About the City of Burns

Burns, Oregon commonly referred to, as the gateway to the Steens Mountains, became a town in 1891.   Burns was named after the Scottish poet Robert Burns when storeowner George McGowan turned down the opportunity of immortality by having the town named after him and declared the town be named after the “Poet of the People, Mr. Burns”.

In 1889, legislation was passed splitting Grant County and created Harney County.  Burns claimed the right to be the county seat by a narrow margin and it became official on July 7, 1890.   Harney County is the ninth largest county in the United States and ranks larger than many states. 

A visit to downtown Burns provides opportunity for visitors to meet the friendly people of this western town, and view collections of arrowheads, art galleries and stores.  A visit to the Harney County Historical Museum is necessary and provides a history of the old west in Burns and Harney County, with historical photos, ranching memorabilia and full room restorations of the old western kitchen. 

Visitors to Burns will find nature as they visit the Malheur Nations Wildlife Refuge just 30 miles south of the City on US 205.  The 185,000 acres provides a Mecca for bird watchers as it is the habitat for over 250 species of migratory birds.   

Another highlight for visitors to Burns is Steens Mountain.  The mountain, a thirty-mile fault block consists of five separate vegetation zones of glaciated gorges, lakes and meadows.  There are many viewpoints for visitors to look into canyons with more than a mile of vertical drop to the valley floor. 

Burns offers the visitor breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities of hiking, fishing, hunting camping and backpacking.  The City welcomes you to the area and appreciates your visit to our friendly town and wide-open spaces.


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