Date of visit: May 18, 2012
Population: 181 (2010 Census)
The Jordan Valley area was mostly settled by Basques. The Basques come from Spain and France and claim to be the oldest unmixed race in Europe. They first started arriving in the United States in large numbers during the California Gold Rush, which began in 1849, and many Basques settled in eastern Oregon after the gold mines played out. Most of the Basques in the area came from the Bizkaia province of Spain. Usually men immigrated first and once they had established a home the wife and children would follow. In the 1920s there were about 600 Basque families around Jordan Valley. They were known as an energetic but peaceful people, often wearing bright colors in the Basque tradition. They mostly tended to be herders of sheep and other livestock. A popular recreational pastime was Pelota, which is the Spanish word for “ball.” The game is similar to squash and racquetball and a pelota court known as a fronton was built in Jordan Valley in 1915. It still stands today.