Idaho Counties
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Idaho Counties

There are forty-four Counties in Idaho. When Idaho became a territory in March, 1863, there were four Counties in existence: Boise, Idaho, Nez Perce and Shoshone. By the time Idaho became a state, there were 15 counties. The rest of the 44 Counties came into existence during the 30 years after Idaho became a state. Two of the former counties disappeared during this time. Alturas, which was created in 1864, was later divided into the many counties now found in central Idaho. Logan County was only in existence for six years, from 1889 to 1895. It was combined with Alturas to form Blaine County and Lincoln County, which was formed just two weeks after Logan lost its identity.

Owyhee County, Idaho

Owyhee County Education, Geography, and HistoryOwyhee County, Idaho Courthouse

Owyhee County is a county located in the southwestern corner of the state of Idaho. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 11,526. Owyhee County was created on December 31, 1863. The county seat is Murphy. The county is named as a corruption of the word Hawaii. Hawaiian fur trappers explored the area in 1819 and 1820. 

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

Etymology - Origin of Owyhee County Name

Owyhee County is named for the Kingdom of Hawaii. Hawaiian fur trappers had explored (and had been mysteriously killed in) the area around 1820.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

OwyheeCounty History

Established December 31, 1863 with its county seat at Ruby City. This was the first county to be established by the first territorial legislature. In 1867 the county seat was moved to Silver City and in 1934 to Murphy. Named for the river, mountains and mining area explored by Hawaiian fur trappers in 1819-1820. Hawaii and Owyhee are different spellings of the same word. Gold was discovered on Jordan Creek in 1863, and millions of dollars of gold and silver were taken from Silver City region until the industry declined in the early 1900s. The largest city is Homedale. In area it is the second-largest county in Idaho, behind Idaho County.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 7,697 square miles (19,940 km2), of which 7,666 square miles (19,850 km2) is land and 31 square miles (80 km2) (0.4%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Idaho by area.

Owyhee county is located in southwest Idaho. 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 Ferry 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 River starts in the southwestern part of the county and flows westward into Oregon; it eventually enters the Snake at the state border south of Nyssa.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Ada County
  • Northeast: Elmore County
  • East: Twin Falls County
  • Southeast: Elko County, Nev.
  • Southwest: Humboldt County, Nev.
  • Northwest: Malheur County, Ore.; Canyon County


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