Owyhee County, an original county

"Owyhee County was named for the river, mountains and mining area explored in 1919-1920 by Hawaiian fur trappers from the then Sandwich Islands. Hawaii and Owyhee are different spellings of the same word. It was the first county to be established by the first territorial legislature in 1863. Gold was discovered on Jordan Creek in 1863, and a rush began to the area. The rich Poorman Mine was discovered in 1865 and and millions of dollars of gold and silver were taken from Silver City region until the industry declined in the early 1900s. Irrigation systems were built along the Owyhee and Snake Rivers and other streams in the county. Forage was excellent, and cattle and sheep raising which begain in the late 1860's was, after mining declined, the most important industry in the county. Mining in Delamar was revived in the mid-1970's, but agriculture remained the chief industry." - "The Idaho Almanac," 1977 Edition, State of Idaho."

map  ::  ISU topo map  ::   location

The first county seat was at Ruby City. In 1867 it was moved to Silver City and in 1934 to Murphy.

"Owyhee County was born December 31, 1863. Its limits were set forth in these words: 'That all that part of of said territory lying south of the Snake River and west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains shall be and the same is hereby organized into a county to be called Owyhee.' By 1879 it was reduced to its present limits, making it the second largest county in Idaho." - Mildretta Adams, "Historic Silver City/The Story of the Owyhees," 1969, Schwartz Printing Company, Nampa, Idaho.

The county seat is Murphy.
other communities include Bruneau, Givens Hot Springs, Grand View, Grasmere, Homedale, Marsing, Murphy, Oreana, Reynolds, Riddle, Silver City, and the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.


Owyhee County, Langley's 1876 Gazetter & Business Directory of Idaho Territory
Silver City, Owyhee County, Langley's 1876 Gazetter & Business Directory of Idaho Territory
Owyhee County, by James Hawley, 1920
Historic Owyhee County Post offices
The Fabulous Col. Dewey
J. Marion More (1830-1868)
Mail Robberies
Walter's Ferry



Pack Mules, Silver City

Eight Horse Team and Freight Wagons, Silver City

(click for larger image)



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