Heading out on a road trip to Wyoming this summer and Daniel says, “Hey…why don’t we stop in Burns, Oregon, say hi to Tim and see his new shop?” I’m game. “Sure, why not?” I reply. And off we go.
Tim is Daniel’s friend and leather working teacher who recently moved from the Rogue River Valley to Burns, Oregon. Daniel had taken his first leather working class from Tim at his school, Alden’s School of Leather Trades, near the end of 2018. They got along great and Daniel had a lot of fun, so why not stop and see what little Burns, Oregon was all about?
There’s a lot of road between Chico, California and Burns, Oregon. It’s about a 400 mile, 7 hour journey from start to finish. We’d never traveled through eastern Oregon before so we were looking forward to seeing some new territory.
Established in 1891, Burns has a population of around 2,700 and was named after the Scottish poet, Robert Burns who is most famous for writing the song we all sing on New Year’s Eve, ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Burns is the county seat of Harney County, the ninth largest county in the United States and is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of wide open spaces including nearby Steens Mountain and the Malheur Nations Wildlife Refuge. You might remember a news story from back in 2016 where some Oregon ranchers occupied the refuge in a 41 day standoff with authorities. Yep! That’s near Burns, Oregon.
Tim recommended a little hotel in the downtown area called the Historic Central Hotel which we were really excited about experiencing. When we arrived, we certainly weren’t disappointed. What an amazing find! The Central Hotel is a newly restored prohibition era hotel that sat neglected and idle for nearly 20 years until the current owners, the Keadys, purchased the space for remodel. Their creativity, innovations, and attention to detail have not only restored a beautiful landmark in Burns, but have created an oasis for out of town visitors.
The upstairs hallway is lined with photographs of Historic Burns and the surrounding area. Little nooks and crannies beckoned us to explore and we couldn’t wait to discover what was around the next corner. The hotel offers a variety of rooms: suites, queens and doubles with private bathrooms and rooms with shared bath. The space resonates warmth and kindness and visitors can certainly feel the love the owners have for its restoration.
But wait! Not only is the inside quaint and charming, but there is an outdoor patio to explore too! We descended out onto the back yard area where we were greeted with fire pits, cheery lighting, and lots of seating for relaxing and socializing with other guests. What a treasure we’ve found! We couldn’t wait to enjoy this space after dark.
Tim’s leather working school is just a block down the road, so off we went to explore little Downtown Burns and see Tim’s new space. Tim has been in the leather trades since he was born. His great, great uncle started a saddle making business in 1935 in a cow camp in Tule Lake, California and the family legacy began. Tim offers small group leather working classes on a variety of subjects from chap making to floral carving and everything in between. People fly in from all over the world to participate in his offerings; he is truly an exceptional individual with some incredible skills. Tim met us at his new shop to show us around.
Daniel was ready to sign up for another class right then and there! In fact, he is excited to be heading back up to Burns in a few weeks to participate in Tim’s floral carving and design class. (Watch for Daniel’s upcoming blog post about that adventure.) After an amazing dinner with Tim and his wife at the Big Bear Lodge in nearby Hines, we returned to the Central Hotel to relax a bit before bed. Hanging out on the patio, we met some people from Hood River, Oregon and chatted a bit. Burns has been a friendly and sweet place to visit.
Our quick visit to Burns, Oregon was much more than we expected! If you are passing through the area, be sure to stop awhile….check out the Central Hotel, Alden’s School of Leather Trades, and have dinner at the Big Bear Lodge in Hines. There is a lot to discover in this pretty, little Eastern Oregon town.