The canyon country of the 280-mile Owyhee River extends through parts of Nevada, Idaho, and southeast Oregon, a sparsely populated area of deep gorges that cut through the high Owyhee Plateau. Jordan Valley is named for Jordan Creek, the Owyhee tributary that flows through town. The outpost was settled by cattlemen and miners in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century became a hub for Basque immigrants, who traveled from the Spanish Pyrenees to herd cattle and sheep in the American West. Several buildings in town once served as boardinghouses for Basque herdsmen and their families, and at the center of town stands one of the country's few remaining original pelota courts, built in 1915 to host matches of the traditional Basque game of handball. Today the presence of both cattle ranchers and Basque families remains significant, and Jordan Valley is increasingly becoming the service hub for travelers in the rugged Owyhee canyon lands.
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