Working Hard, Playing Hard - Jordan Valley Basque
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 42° 58.464 W 117° 03.178
11T E 495680 N 4757973
This history sign is located near the corner of Bassett and Main Streets in Jordan Valley.
Waymark Code: WMATXE
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 02/24/2011
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member silverquill
Views: 5

Marker Name: Working Hard, Playing Hard - Jordan Valley
Marker Text: The first Basques emigrated to the United States in the late 1840s to seek gold in California. Like many prospectors, they quickly discovered that success depended as much on luck as on hard work. When gold-fever subsided, many turned to raising livestock, particularly sheep. Basque-owned flocks soon ranged from California’s coasts to the Sierra Nevadas and beyond into the High Desert. This arid country became a magnet for emigrants as successful Basques sent home for friends or relatives to herd their sheep. From the 1880s until the Great Depression, as sheep multiplied, so too did the population of Basque sheepherders.
Many Basques, unlike other emigrants, held firmly to Old World traditions. Here, in the isolated sheep camps, on remote ranches and within the Basque populations of small desert towns like Jordan Valley, emigrants held on to their language, religion and sports. In the world of sports, pelota (handball), in particular, maintained its popularity.
Every Basque village contains a frontone (handball court) and Jordan Valley is no exception. Construction of Jordan Valley’s frontone began in 1915. Young Basque masons carted hand-hewn stones from a quarry east of town to build the court’s 35-foot-tall walls. Games were played almost every summer afternoon and evening, and practically all day every Sunday. Spectators stood along the right side of the courts to cheer their favorite champions. Pelota remained popular well into the 1930s, but as first generation Basques aged, and their descendants discovered American pastimes, the court fell idle. Today Jordan Valley’s restored frontone is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and as local residents rediscover their rich heritage, the Basque word “sake” once more echoes from these stone walls as balls are served.

Historic Topic: Pioneer

Group Responsible for placement: State of Oregon

Marker Type: City

Region: Eastern Oregon

County: Malheur

Web link to additional information: [Web Link]

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

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Phydux visited Working Hard, Playing Hard - Jordan Valley Basque 05/10/2014 Phydux visited it
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