Treasure Valley

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Location of Treasure Valley in the United States

The Treasure Valley is the area of the Western United States where the Payette, Boise, Weiser, Malheur, Owyhee, and Burnt rivers drain into the Snake River. Treasure Valley includes all the lowland areas from Vale, Oregon on the west to Boise, Idaho on the east. Historically, the valley had been known as the Lower Snake River Valley or the Boise River Valley. In 1959, Pete Olesen, president of the valley's association of local Chambers of Commerce, coined the name Treasure Valley. Olesen said the name reflected the treasure chest of resources and opportunities that the region offered.


Settling the region[edit]

The Treasure Valley from the east side of Bogus Basin

The tribes that roamed the area, specifically, were the Northern Paiute and Shoshone.[1] In 1834, Thomas McKay built the original Fort Boise, which was run for a time by François Payette in the area near the present-day city of Parma. It later was moved because of flooding troubles. The area was settled for the most part by ranchers and farmers. In 1883, the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the Treasure Valley, creating a thriving community.

Basque immigration[edit]

Many Basques came to the area looking for gold, but meeting discrimination, it seemed to many that a better occupation was shepherding, familiar from their homeland. Over 50,000 Basques came to the Treasure Valley area, making it the largest community of Basques outside of Europe.[2]


Westbound from Vale, Oregon into Ontario, Oregon.

As Boise began to grow, so did the riches of large planters, such as Thomas and Frank Davis. They moved to Idaho in 1862 for mining. They homesteaded right below the Boise Bench on the Boise River. Tom Davis became very successful at growing fruit, as he made over $10,000 on one year's apple crop.[3] He later purchased more land for orchards and horses. In 1907, he donated much of this land as Julia Davis Park in honor of his wife.

The Owyhee Project was one of the most influential developments of the area. It essentially began in 1903, when surveyors began investigating a site on the Owyhee River for the construction of a dam, to impound water for irrigation. The Owyhee project received official Congressional sanction on December 5, 1924. The Owyhee Dam was completed on September 16, 1932.[4] While the dam was under construction, over 98.5 miles (158.5 km) of irrigation canals were being dug to the north and south. The main purpose of the Owyhee Project was irrigation. By 1965, over 111,000 acres (450 km2) were being irrigated for a value of more than $23 million.

In 1941, J. R. Simplot built a dehydrator and began processing large quantities of dehydrated potatoes and onions at a plant near Caldwell, Idaho.[5] His business thrived selling potatoes to the government and fertilizer to local farmers.


In 1973 Hewlett Packard purchased a 150 acre site for a future peripherals plant in Boise.[6] In 1978 Micron Technology was founded, creating an additional, local industry aside from farming and potato packaging.[7]

Geographic features[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Peoples of Idaho: Native Settlers." Idaho Museum of Natural History. Accessed May 8, 2008
  2. ^ "Jaialdi 2005 Kicks Off." Idaho Statesman. July 25, 2005. Accessed May 11, 2008
  3. ^ "Thomas and Francis M. (Frank) Davis." Idaho State Historical Society. 1981. Accessed May 16, 2008
  4. ^ "Owyhee Project." U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation. 1996.
  5. ^ "J. R. Simplot Passes Away at Age 99." Simplot Company. Accessed June 16, 2008
  6. ^ "HP Computer Museum" WordSong Communications P/L. 2004-2010. Accessed Dec 13, 2010
  7. ^ "Company Milestones." Micron. Accessed May 10, 2008.

Coordinates: 44°02′25″N 116°56′00″W / 44.04028°N 116.93333°W / 44.04028; -116.93333