HISTORY

Native Americans were the first occupants of the high desert region along the Idaho-Nevada border. Most experts estimate the first native settlements began around ten thousand years ago. According to local historian Kelly Murphy there is a trail commonly used to ambush game near Murphy’s Hot Springs. He also says the name Jarbidge which refers to the town, a canyon, and a mountain range is derived from a native word.

"Jarbidge is a corruption of the name Tsawhawbitts pronounced various ways but that’s the gist. Reportedly in the ethnography this was a giant who roamed the countryside sometimes picking up and procuring local people for his diet. You take the story one step further, some claim that the Matterhorn peaks are the teeth and various other parts of the body are also fossilized across the country side."

--Kelly Murphy, Local Historian--

The town of Jarbidge sprung to existence after Dave Boren discovered gold in the area in 1909. Rey Nystrom who owns the only store in Jarbidge has researched the towns’ history.

Rey Nystrom"In 1909 a guy named Dave Boren made a discovery of mine able gold. Now there had been some indications of gold found previous to that but that was the first mine able stuff that was found. That was right up here in Boren Gulch which is the next canyon south of us. That started the gold rush that in some reports they claimed as high as 5,000 people came in here during that time period.

About 1,500 lived here pretty steadily for several years and then once things more or less settled down and the expansion and exploration part was past, the population was around 350 people for several years... As far as I know it was probably THE last gold rush in the 48 states.”

"In the late teens, 1918 and ’19 this was the biggest gold producer in the state and probably the country... There was Eleven Million Dollars worth taken out from the time it historic Jarbidgestarted until the early ‘30’s and gold at that time was twenty dollars an ounce or less and silver was like twenty-five cents an ounce."

--Rey Nystrom, Local Historian--

Jarbidge was also the site of the nation’s last horse drawn stage robbery. Nystrom has recounted that story many times.

"That happened December 5, 1916. It was a stage coming into town carrying payroll money and that was fairly common knowledge that that was the case. As usual in that time period people were anticipating the arrival of anything that came from the outside, particularly in the middle of the winter. The stage was robbed somewhere on the north end of town, nobody knows exactly where. The individual jumped on the stage and apparently killed the driver. The driver’s name was Fred Searsy by the way. He felt that he was so close to where there were people were living that somebody may have heard the gunshot so he didn’t dare stagecoachstop the stage and attract further attention so he kind of hid the driver under a blanket or canvas or something, brought the stage on up to where the bridge was at that time, pulled it into the brush, hid the stage and he came on into the center of town and mingled with the rest of the people who were waiting for the arrival of the stage.

After some time people that the stage had already come past on the north end of town ended up here and said, “Well the stage should be here. It went by our place a half an hour ago” so then they got to looking around, tracking it through the snow or mud and found the abandoned stage and the dead driver. One of the people who had seen the stage come past his house said, “Ben Kuhl’s dog was trotting along aside it. Wonder if he knows anything about it”? And that’s how they came to get Ben Kuhl and his accomplice for robbing the stage. ... As far as we can tell, it’s the last robbery of a horse drawn stage in the 48 states."

--Rey Nystrom, Local Historian--

Just down the road from Jarbidge is the even smaller community of Murphy’s Hot Springs. It’s named after its one time owner Pat Murphy who has since passed away. His nephew Kelly Murphy lives on a ranch near Castleford, Idaho. Kelly has studied the history of Murphy’s Hot Springs and recalls how it began as a camp for Kitty Wilkins, the horse queen of Idaho.

Kelly Murphy"Kitty’s family moved into the Bruneau Valley, the Glenns Ferry country in the 1880’s and then the Murphy Hot Springs-upper Bruneau Desert country was part of the range they used. They had about a thousand head of cattle but they had hundreds of horses. Murphy's Hot Springs was one of their satellite camps, one of their line camps so to speak in which they corralled horses and had a rudimentary shack or something and stayed there. And Kitty was an amazing character, person, rode sidesaddle everywhere she went, routinely fired and hired cowboys, could ride with anyone, herded large numbers of animals with just several people, and at one point in time traded horses world wide.”

"In the Murphy's Hot Springs area according to some historic accountsKitty Wilkins they had the capability through rock and will blockades and stuff to keep at one time as many as 1500 horses on that flat. The rock wall as you come down Murphy’s was built for her cowboys as one of the controlling mechanisms for some of those holdings. Dave’s Island above and Dave’s Creek above is named for one of her wild stallions which reportedly killed a black bear up there and thus gave the name Dave to those holdings... Post-Kitty, it became known as Kitty’s Hot Hold. There was a hot water seep there big enough for several people to get into and that’s where that name came from."

--Kelly Murphy, Local Historian--

According to Kelly his uncle Pat acquired the hot springs from the estate of a Mr. McCray in around 1935.

"He then was approached by the CCC boys who were working in the area who said they would, to have a place to clean up and stuff, they would help him develop the pool and that’s how the swimming pool was involved. And then for probably 50 years Pat ran a resort of sorts and guided hunters and trapped for the government out of Murphy's Hot Springs.”

--Kelly Murphy, Local Historian--

Today the hot springs are closed. Though there are no plans to re-open the pool, the current owner has talked about bottling the pure spring water and marketing it.