Six Early Settlements
When gold was discovered in Jordan Creek in 1863, people from all over the world came to seek their fortune. Many came from the East along the Mormon Trail, branching off to follow the stage and freight trail from Kelton, Utah, to Idaho, then remaining on the “Dry Trail” south of the Snake River. Nestled in the War Eagle and Florida Mountains, the mining camp of Ruby City grew to become a roaring settlement and the Owyhee County seat. It was named for the red color of the silver ore compounds found there.
Only half a mile away, Silver City became a booming mining town. It was located on the high slopes of War Eagle, at the head of Jordan Creek, and almost atop the fortune the mountain held. Within one year, the county seat was moved to Silver City, as well as many of the buildings and homes. This settlement grew to have six general stores, two hotels, a school, four restaurants, and numerous other businesses. Everything had to be hauled in by wagon teams over the rugged mountainous terrain. Settlers began to make their homes on many of the creeks. Indians roamed freely in the area, and fought fiercely to protect this great land against the white settlers.
Desiring to farm and ranch, settlers came in the spring of 1869 to Bruneau, named for a Canadian fur trapper, Pierre Bruneau, who came to Idaho in 1815. Many places in the area bear his name. Salmon came up the Bruneau River by the thousands, and herds of antelope and deer roamed freely in the vast countryside. To cattleman and sheepman alike, this areas became known as the Valley of the Tall Grass. In 1884, the first public building in Bruneau was erected by the Hughes Brothers, Frank and Jim, and served as a saloon, store, and post office.
Grand View was so named because of its big beautiful green valley with the Snake River winding through the middle. On either side lay lush desert as flat as a table top with sage as tall as a man. At one time there were 100,000 cattle in the valley. Sheepmen soon followed with vast herds, which fed in the belly-deep grasses. Hundreds of tons of hay and many kinds of fruit and nuts were harvested and sold in the area. The Dorsey Ranch was about two miles to the east. Although the ranch changed hands many times, its name remained the same. The ranch became a favorite ferry route and stopping place for early settlers going back and forth to Boise for supplies. Grand View had a large hotel and store (destroyed by fire) as well as many other businesses and homes. Some still stand today. The first post office was opened in 1888.
Farther to the west is Oreana, a settlement named by Harry Olsen when he opened a hotel in 1884. Oreana, meaning an unbranded yearling, was known nationwide for its many tons of hay and large productive orchards. The settlement had a general store, post office, blacksmith shop, school, and church.
In 1899, Murphy, a settlement near the majestic Owyhee Mountains, became the terminal when the railroad finished its plans to run the track to Silver City. Later, with the slowing of the mining operations at Silver City, and Ruby City and for easier accessibility, the Owyhee County seat was moved to Murphy where it remains today.
This is Daughters of Utah Pioneers historic marker #530, located in Centennial Park in Grand View, Idaho.