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:
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 (pictured). 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.Three Fingers
is Nearby (pictured).The name,
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
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
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
Skinner and two partners began work on a road from Ruby City to
--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
--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
--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
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.
Jordan Valley is located on U.S.
Hwy. 95, between Idaho and Nevada in south eastern Oregon. 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
a scenic canyon, with many interesting rock formations. A rock
Trout fishing and boating.
formations of rugged beauty, ending at Owyhee Reservoir where
there is good fishing for bass and crappie.
From Mahogany Mountain � a view comparable to Grand Canyon's
Active less than 2500 years ago,
explore in and around, with dead lava flows.
A large cave abounding with rattlesnakes.
Fascinating rock formations resembling castles, at
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-
horse roping and events. Every 3rd weekend in May nationally
acclaimed with many vendors.
wo lakes about 14
miles west of Jordan Valley, with boat ramps and restrooms.
Silver City, Idaho
An abandoned mining
town to explore, with Old Hotel and homes.
Jordan Valley Pelota Frontoia
-Basque Handball Court built in
1915, restored in 1997.
Historic Gravesite-Son of Sacagawea & Toussaint Charbonneau
(Lewis & Clark Expedition), buried in Danner, some 15 miles
from Jordan Valley.
relics, agates, crystals, etc can be found in the vicinity of
Jordan Valley.For More Info Contact Chamber at:
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