Homedale is the largest of the many towns that dot the landscape of Owyhee County. Jacob Mussell was the first known permanent settler in the area when, in 1898, he built a ferry boat to help people cross the Snake River.
It was just 11 years later when the townsite was platted, a mayor and council were put into place, and a town name was selected by drawing names from a hat. Homedale was officially established in 1920.
The region is significant in Idaho History for many reasons. Not only is Owyhee County the second largest in the state, it was also the first county formed by the Idaho Territorial Legislature in 1863.
One branch of the Oregon Trail crossed through Owyhee County. And rich mineral deposits brought miners high into the Owyhee Mountains to places like Silver City. Much of Silver City is still standing and is a popular recreational destination.
With a new town established, a two-story brick school house soon followed in 1913. That same year the Union Pacific Railroad built a line connecting Homedale to Nyssa, Oregon. The railroad, coupled with irrigation, helped turn Homedale and Owyhee County into a productive farming region.
The ground surrounding Homedale produces alfalfa seed, sugar beets, potatoes, corn and grain. The area on the other side of the Snake River also produces hops and a bounty of wine grapes.
Two cultures play a major part in the community of Homedale: Basque and Austrian. A large number of people with Austrian heritage live in an area south of the city called Austrian Town. They were lured to Homedale in 1914 by unscrupulous land speculators who "sold" them the ground. After making the trek to Idaho, the settlers found that not only was the ground undeveloped, but they still had to purchase the land from the government.
Homedale continued to grow over the years with the first bridge spanning the Snake River in 1921. At one time there were 15 churches serving Homedale. And even though many people over the years have migrated to larger cities, Homedale has continued to prosper.
The town now attracts people looking for the quiet, comfortable and close-knit life that can be had here in rural Idaho.