JORDAN VALLEY, OREGON
Jordan Valley City Profile in Southern Oregon - Southeast Eastern Oregon - Malheur County Info  

Jordan Valley is located in Southeast Oregon. In contrast to the rough volcanic lands of the High Oregon desert and snowcapped mountains that surround Jordan Valley, the City of Jordan Valley lies in a wide lush valley along Jordan Creek in the heart of Owyhee country. A place settled by miners and cattlemen in the early 1860's is now dotted with cattle ranches. Located in the Southeast corner of Oregon, in Malheur County, the community of Jordan Valley has an average altitude of 4,389 feet and the main product is beef, with grain, hay and sheep taking a lesser importance. It is a small City of approximately 450 people, which includes local ranchers and families. Game is plentiful, with antelope, deer, pheasant, geese, quail, duck, chukars and sage grouse offering a variety of hunting opportunities for the sportsman. Tourist facilities include motels, trailer courts, restaurants, service stations, automotive garage, and hardware store. Accommodations at Rome are available some 30 miles south of Jordan Valley, near the Owyhee River. The local Schools, Post Office, Health Clinic, City Hall, Sheriff's Office, Oregon Dept. of Transportation, Emergency Medical Services, businesses and other organizations comprise part of our Little City.
 
HOME OF THE BASQUES-
"Where smiles are wide and frowns are few, cattle are numerous and friends are too!" - The Spanish Basques or Euskaldunak as they call themselves in their own language, Euskara, claim to be the oldest unmixed race in Europe. Euskara is totally unintelligible to the Spanish and is related in no way to any other language. Their original home was the Pyrenees Mountains, in Spain. Their history is an account of repeated and determined efforts to defend the rights and privileges (fueros) that they, as a distinct people, have enjoyed down through the centuries. From the 1890's through the First World War, Basques emigrated from Spain in great numbers from their native Pyrenees Mountains to Southeastern Oregon and adjacent areas of Idaho and Nevada, bringing with them their traditional games, customs and festive occasions. Pelota (handball) is one of those games. Spanish Basque immigrants began building a handball court or Pelota Frontone in the spring of 1915, in Jordan Valley. It is built of native stone, hand hewn by Basque masons who learned their trade in Spain. It was Restored in 1997 and celebrated with a Basque Fall Festival. It is Oregon's only Basque Handball Court in existence today.
 
  
Nearby Leslie Gulch:
Native Americans fished, hunted, and camped along the Owyhee River in Leslie Gulch 5,000 years before Europeans came to the area. in 1882, a cattle rancher, Hiram E. Leslie, when working in what was then known as Dugout Gulch, was struck by lightning; thus, the area was renamed Leslie Gulch. The original Leslie Gulch canyon road long served as a wagon and mail route between Rockville and Watson. Today, the town of Watson lies at the bottom of the Owyhee Reservoir
 
MEANING OF THE NAME- OWYHEE
The name, Owyhee, comes from early fur trappers. In 1819, three natives from Hawaii, part of Donald McKenzie's fur-trapping expedition, were sent to trap a large stream that emptied into the Snake River. When they did not return, McKenzie investigated and found one man murdered in camp and no sign of the others. The stream was named in their honor. "Owyhee" is an early spelling for the word Hawaii.
The Oregon Trail, the earliest road in the area, was used by emigrants for over 30 years on their long trip to the Oregon country. The part of the Trail in Owyhee County was known as the South Alternate Route or "dry route". The Owyhee road was shorter but much harder than the main trail.
Gold was discovered in rich placer deposits in the Owyhee Mountains in May, 1863. A search for the source of the gold led to quartz ledges on War Eagle Mountain. Before the fall of 1863, several hard rock mines were being developed. Three towns grew to supply the miner's needs.
Booneville, Ruby City and Silver City were the first three settlements in the county. Only Silver City still stands; its well-preserved buildings a silent testimonial to the lively mining days. The beautiful ruby silver ore and the wealth of gold taken from the mountains made the mining district world famous.
While Ruby City was named the first county seat, its population and businesses soon moved to a better location two miles upstream on February 1, 1867. Silver City was closer to most of the mining operations and had a better winter location. In 1934, after the decline of mining, the county government was moved to Murphy, more central to the livestock and agricultural sections of the country.

Three Fingers Rock is Nearby
 
 
History of Jordan Valley
In 1863, a party of prospectors with about 60 horses and mules arrived at a stream seen theretofore by few, if any white men. Here was a most favorable camping place, and so it was agreed to go no further. Before unpacking his mule, one man scooped up some loose gravel, panned it, and obtained about 100 colors. In ten minutes, every man was digging and panning, and in one hour, all had good exhibits. Within 12 days, the laws of the district were made and adopted, claims located, and the creek was named Jordan after Michael Jordan, one member of the party. A few years later, Jordan was scalped by the Indians on the banks of this same stream.

1863--- Silas Skinner and two partners began work on a road from Ruby City to points west.
 
1864--- Found John Baxter settled in a stone cabin on Jordan Creek, near where the Loveland barn now stands. Traffic to and
from the mines increased by leaps and bounds. A few more shacks were built, and the settlement was called Stringtown.
 
1865--- During the summer, the first saddle train from Chico, California to Ruby City, Idaho, passed through Jordan Valley.
 
1865--- Inskip was settled in a fortified rock house on the Ruby Ranch, near present Danner. Here he kept a station and sold hay, grain, tobacco, liquor and meals.
 
1865--- Camp Lyons was established to preserve the peace on the line of emigration to and from Idaho. It was located on Cow Creek, on the road to Caldwell.
 
1866--- J.B. Charbonneau, Sacagawea's son (of Lewis & Clark Expedition) died near the Owyhee River and was buried at the Inskip Ranch, now called the Ruby Ranch.
 
1867 to 1878--- Indian Skirmishes by roving bands of Indians killed people, stole horses, supplies, etc. For some time prior to 1878, the Bannocks had been raiding the settlements and in June of 1878, they became actively hostile and urged the Piutes to join them in driving out the whites so as to regain their lost territories, rights and privileges. When the Indians decided to go on the warpath, a friendly Piute Indian, alerted the settlers who immediately organized a group of volunteers under the leadership of O.H. Purdy. The volunteers left the O'Keefe place and went up South Mountain Creek to intercept the Bannocks. They met on a hill southeast of the McKenzie place. The volunteers finding themselves overwhelmed by an estimated 450 Indians, decided to retreat. The Indians pursued the whites to iron Mine Creek where an old scout succeeded in killing the Indian leader, Buffalo Horn and his horse. The Indians surprised and disorganized by the loss of their chief, went back toward the Owyhee. In a few days, three companies of soldiers from Camp Pendleton caught up with them and returned them to their reservation.
 
WHERE TO GO --- WHAT TO SEE
  
Jordan Valley is located on U.S. Hwy. 95, between Idaho and Nevada in Southeastern Oregon. Come and visit with us!
Jordan Valley is the center for many fascinating side trips, from a few miles to 25 or 35 miles distance. Scenery of the area has been compared to places as magnificent as the Grand Canyon.

• Succor Creek Canyon is a scenic canyon, with many interesting rock formations. A rock hound's paradise.
• Silver City, Idaho—An abandoned mining town to explore, with Old Hotel and homes.
• Antelope Reservoir-- Trout fishing and boating.
• Leslie Gulch-- Rock formations of rugged beauty, ending at Owyhee Reservoir where there is good fishing for bass and crappie.
• Owyhee Breaks-- From Mahogany Mountain – a view comparable to Grand Canyon's beauty.
• Jordan Crater-- Active less than 2500 years ago, explore in and around, with dead lava flows.
• Rattlesnake Caves-- A large cave abounding with rattlesnakes.
• Rome Cliffs-- Fascinating rock formations resembling castles, at Rome, Oregon
• Owyhee River-- Excellent white water rafting and kayaking, fishing.
• DeLamar Silver Mine—Located in the Owyhee Mountains, at one time a large producer of silver and gold, and no longer in operation.
• Big Loop Rodeo-- 20' Loop horse roping and events. Every 3rd weekend in May – nationally acclaimed with many vendors.
• Cow Lakes—Two lakes about 14 miles west of Jordan Valley, with boat ramps and restrooms.
• Jordan Valley Pelota Frontoia-- Basque Handball Court built in 1915, restored in 1997.
• Jean Baptiste Charbonneau's Historic Gravesite-- Son of Sacagawea & Toussaint Charbonneau (Lewis & Clark Expedition), buried in
   Danner, some 15 miles from Jordan Valley.
• Everywhere—Petrified wood, Indian relics, agates, crystals, etc can be found in the vicinity of Jordan Valley
  
SOME HISTORIC INFORMATION COMPILED
BY JOHANNA SKINNER
SOME THROUGH PROJECTS MADE POSSIBLE BY
THE MALHEUR CO. SMALL GRANTS PROGRAM,
OREGON COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES, AND
FOUR RIVERS CULTURAL CENTER & MUSEUM.

   
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