The Old West Restored

In Owyhee County

Story and Photos by Merri Melde

As my cowboy boots scuffed along the pioneer town’s boardwalk and I peered into replicas of an old hotel, assay office, blacksmith shop, post office, school room, and jail, the present day faded away, and it wasn’t difficult at all to visualize myself strolling in Owyhee County’s Old West.

For a decade I’d driven past a sign on Highway 78—about seven miles northwest of Grand View—for the Emu-Z-um with its “pioneer town” and its own version of Idaho’s historic Silver City, and for years my neighbor had hounded me to go see it.

“It’s unbelievable,” she’d say. “It’s not just any old museum. It’s like Silver City was in the old days.”

Her urging was one reason I wanted to visit. Or you could blame it on the Bonanza re-runs I’ve been watching lately. Or on my roots, which have grown deep into Owyhee County’s ranching country. You could definitely ascribe it to my obsession with horses. When I’m out riding in this sparsely populated high desert country below the Owyhee Mountains and the old ghost mining town of Silver City, it’s all too easy to imagine myself back in the 1860s during the boom years.

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