Owyhee County, Idaho

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Owyhee County is a county located in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Idaho. In area it is the second largest county in Idaho, behind Idaho County 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).[1] The county seat is Murphy,[2] and its largest city is Homedale.[3]

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



On December 31, 1863, Owyhee County became the first county organized by the Idaho Territorial Legislature. In the north, Nez Perce and Idaho 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 "that terri-tory lying south of the Snake River and west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains."[4] including present-day Twin Falls, Cassia and Power Counties. It assumed its present boundaries in 1879.

The name Owyhee: "Owyhee" and "Hawaii" 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 Native Hawaiians who Anglo-Americans referred to as "Owyhees." Noted for their hardy physique and maritime skills, numerous Native Hawaiians were hired as crew members aboard European and American vessels. Many "Owhyhees" sailed on to the American Northwest coast and found employment along the Columbia, where they joined trapping expeditions or worked at some of the fur trade posts.

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