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Owyhee County is a county located in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Idahomarker. In area it is the second largest county in Idaho, behind Idaho Countymarker in the north central region of the state. As of the 2000 Census, Owyhee County had a population of 10,644 (2008 estimate: 10,877). The county seat is Murphymarker, and its largest city is Homedalemarker.

Owyhee County is part of the Boise CitymarkerNampamarker, Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area.


On December 31, 1863, Owyhee County became the first county organized by the Idaho Territorial Legislature. In the north, Nez Percemarker and Idahomarker counties predate Owyhee County as parts of the Washington Territory, but they were not recognized by the Idaho Territory until February 1864.

Owyhee County originally included present-day Twin Fallsmarker, Cassiamarker and Powermarker Counties. It assumed its present boundaries in 1879.

The name Owyhee: "Owyhee" and "Hawaiimarker" are two different spellings for the same word. When Captain James Cook discovered what he named the Sandwich Islands (known more recently as the Hawaiian Islands) in 1778, he found them inhabited by people called Owyhees. The spelling "Owyhee" is simplified a little from its original form: "Owyhee" is the spelling that British and American traders used during the early nineteenth century in referring to natives of the Sandwich Islands, and a number of Owyhees sailed on to the Columbia, where they joined trapping expeditions or worked at some of the fur trade posts.

Three of the Owyhees joined Donald MacKenzie's Snake expedition, which went out annually into the Snake country for the North West Company--a Montreal organization of Canadian fur traders. Unluckily, those three Owyhees left the main party during the winter of 1819-20; they set out to explore the then unknown terrain of what since has been called the Owyhee Rivermarker and mountains, and have not been heard from since. Because of their disappearance, the British fur trappers started to call the region "Owyhee," and the name stuck."

Owyhee County's history is inextricably linked to the mining boom that dominated Idaho in the second half of the 19th Century. Silver Citymarker and Ruby City are among the state's most noteworthy ghost towns from the period. At its height in the 1880s, Owyhee County was among the most populous places in Idaho. Today it is among the least populous, at 1.4 persons per square mile (0.5 per km²).


According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 7,697 square miles (19,934 km²), of which, 7,678 square miles (19,886 km²) of it is land and 19 square miles (48 km²) of it (0.24%) is water.

Nearly all of the county is high intermountain desert, with plentiful sagebrush and basalt canyons. The Owyhee Mountains in the west dominate the landscape, with Hayden Peak reaching 8,403 feet (2561 m) above sea level. The lowest elevation is at the county's northwest corner, where the Snake River is just above 2,000 feet (610 m) at the Oregon border. The Snake forms most of the county's northern border from Oregon to just west of Glenns Ferrymarker in Elmore County. A tributary of the Snake is the Bruneau River, which flows north from Nevada through the eastern section of the county. The Owyhee Rivermarker starts in the southwestern part of the county and flows westward into Oregon; it eventually enters the Snake at the state border south of Nyssamarker.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,644 people, 3,710 households, and 2,756 families residing in the county. The population density was 1.4 person per square mile (0.5/km²). There were 4,452 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.87% White, 0.15% Black or African American, 3.21% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 16.50% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. 23.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.3% were of Americanmarker, 12.5% German, 10.4% English and 8.1% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 3,710 households out of which 37.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.20% were married couples living together, 8.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.70% were non-families. 21.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.35.

In the county the population was spread out with 31.90% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 26.50% from 25 to 44, 20.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 109.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,339, and the median income for a family was $32,856. Males had a median income of $25,146 versus $20,718 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,405. About 14.20% of families and 16.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.80% of those under age 18 and 12.10% of those age 65 or over.



Image:Wildhorsesowyhee.jpg|Wild Horses of Saylor CreekImage:Cowboys-id-us.png|Round-up south of BruneauImage:Birds-of-prey-nca-snake-id.png|Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area


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