Harvest Hosts is a unique membership program that allows self-contained RVs to stay overnight in a variety of unique locations across North America. Of the 1139+ number of Harvest Hosts available, nearly 200 are attractions, such as museums, theme parks, restaurants, and more. Of these attraction locations that permit free overnight RV camping, most are museums. These museums feature a diverse variety of themes, such as historical topics, scientific topics, and cultural topics. One such location is Owyhee County Museum in downtown Murphy, Idaho, which is known for the 1863 gold strike. Murphy is a small town located at the base of the Owyhee Mountains, surrounded by the old west. The museum showcases a variety of historical artifacts from Owyhee County, the second largest county in Idaho. Continue on to learn all about the museum, its origin, and what Harvest Hosts members who stay there can expect.
The Owyhee County Museum began in 1960 when Morris and Bea Larson, Mac and Marvene Parkins, Walt and Mildretta Adams, and Alice Edwards sat down around a coffee table to hold the first meeting of the Owyhee County Historical Society. What began as a single item on display at the county courthouse eventually led to the acquisition of the original Murphy School House in 1964.
The museum has since grown to become a 10,000 square foot complex and research library that rests on one acre of land. The museum highlights the history of Owyhee County’s ranching and mining history, with many historic buildings being located around the museum. These include the Marsing train depot, a 1959 UP caboose, a stamp mill and the AG Annex Building.
The Museum Today
In addition to being much larger than the original, Owyhee County Museum now hosts many events throughout the year. These include Outpost Days and Christmas tree sales during the holidays. They also offer Model T rides and tractor demonstrations to all who are willing to jump in and learn about the great history of Owyhee County. Their goal is simple: they strive to be the finest and most complete repository and research center for the history and prehistory of the Owyhee County region.
The museum is also much different today than it was nearly fifty years ago. The director, Eriks Garsvo, says, “I love being able to bring the history of the county to the next generation. The museum is visited by people from all over and most are surprised to see how big we are and how much [information and history] we have considering where we are located.”
Joining Harvest Hosts
Owyhee County Museum became a Harvest Host in 2019. So far they have hosted a variety of RVers, from single ladies traveling the country to entire families on vacation. All visitors tend to love the museum and usually spend the good part of a morning or afternoon exploring it. An additional perk is that the museum allows Harvest Hosts members to plug in for free to the power panel out back. They also have water hookups, making the museum an ideal stay after a stint of dry camping to recharge batteries and refill on fresh water. Host reviews rave about the museum directors’ friendliness and welcoming attitude. They also mention the beautiful local scenery, and, of course, the impressiveness of the museum.
Museum moderators would like RVers to know that visitors should plan to arrive there early to see the museum by 4pm. Those coming from out of state will most likely be coming from another time zone. It’s important to remember to calculate the traveling time, as the museum is in Mountain Time, but is surrounded by states on Pacific time.
In addition, moderators say that when staying at the museum, you will experience dark night skies. This is perfect for stargazing and night photography, so don’t forget to pack your telescope or camera! In addition, it’s best to arrive at the museum early in the day. This will allow you to experience a ride in a 1915 Model-T and learn how to start a 1940 tractor.
Harvest Hosts members visiting Owyhee County Museum may also find interest in things to do in the town of Murphy and surrounding areas. Nearby, visitors to the area can plan a stop at the Swan Falls Dam, built in 1901. The structure dams the Snake River, creating a reservoir. Both features are located within the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Be sure to bring your binoculars to increase your chances of seeing a hawk or even a bald eagle, which often nest among the canyon walls.
Owyhee County history is rich and dates back to the time of Abraham Lincoln. The museum has something for everyone, so be sure to stop here on your next trip through Southern Idaho.
Have you visited southern Idaho or Owyhee County? How was your experience? Do you have a favorite host you’d like us to feature? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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