Can it be Canyon County is 120 today? Time flies when you’re developing into one of the biggest agricultural, population and business centers in the region.

The big 1-2-0 deserves a big party. And Canyon County public officials will give one today.

The festivities include a 10 a.m. press conference with a re-enactment of Gov. Norman Willey’s 1892 proclamation creating Canyon County.


  • People began visiting the area around 12,000 years ago. The Snake River may have provided a splendid salmon, steelhead and sturgeon fishery for small groups.
  • In 1811 fur trading began in the area. Wilson Price Hunt arrived in the county to find an encampment of Native Americans near the site of Middleton.
  • The peak of the following era likely saw the erection of Old Fort Boise located at the junction of the Boise and Snake Rivers, near what is now the town of Parma.  
  • Gold was discovered in the Boise Basin in 1862 and in the Owyhees in 1863. The area now known as Canyon County was traversed by numerous stage lines, saddle trains and wagons as it bustled with mining activity.
  • The Oregon Trail dates from this era and traversed the northern portion of Canyon County along the Boise River.
  • Caldwell was planned in 1883 by the Idaho and Oregon Land Improvement Company.  
  • Nampa started as the homestead of Alexander Duffes in 1885.
  • The town of Guffey was founded during the 1890s as a way station on the lesser known Boise, Nampa and Owyhee Railroad. The railroad extended to Murphy, crossing the Snake River on the Guffey Bridge.  
  • With the arrival of irrigation water in 1909, Wilder became a substantial farm community and within a year boasted a school with 21 students.
  • The founder of Melba was a miner who came to the area on the Boise, Nampa and Owyhee Railroad.  He purchased 80 acres, laid out a town and named it after his daughter. Melba was incorporated in 1912.
  • The town of Notus originated from an arid homestead, grew steadily and with the arrival of irrigation merited its own railroad depot in 1914.
  • Throughout this century Canyon County has prospered as an agricultural county. With more irrigation ditches than roads and over 80 percent of the County’s total acreage devoted to farm land, it is clear that the development of irrigation systems were vital to the County’s growth.  


  • All three floors of the courthouse will feature historical displays depicting Canyon County’s history through the eyes of the cities that shaped it. They remain on display through the end of the month.
  • A 10 a.m. press conference today at the courthouse includes a brief history of the County, the honoring of historic Canyon County families and the announcement of the essay-art contest winners.
  • After the press conference an open house at the courthouse offers music, historical displays, refreshments and other activities. The courthouse will remain open until 7 p.m. to allow extra visitors time to take part in the celebration.  
  • The courthouse will also remain open until 7 p.m. Tuesday.


Pat Quinn is compiling a book, “This Land of Ours...This Land of Yours,” to commemorate Canyon County’s 120th anniversary. The coffee-table style book will give readers a glimpse into the people, places and events that made Canyon County what it is today. Cost will be $39.95 for the public. Cities, historical organizations and other nonprofits can buy the book for a reduced rate of $19.95. A publication date has not been announced.


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