Historical Markers in
Gem County, Idaho

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Idaho was part of the Oregon Territory before it became a separate territory in 1863, and then a state in 1890. At the time, Idaho's borders were much larger than they are now, including parts of Wyoming and Montana.
Gem County, located in southwestern Idaho, holds a rich history that can be traced back to the early 1800s. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Shoshone and Bannock. However, European settlers began arriving in the region during the 1860s, drawn by the allure of the recently discovered gold in the nearby Boise Basin.

The establishment of Gem County officially took place on March 15, 1915, when it was created from parts of Boise County. The county was aptly named after the scenic gemstones found in the area, including opals, garnets, and jasper. Early settlers primarily engaged in ranching, mining, and agriculture, utilizing the fertile soil to grow crops like corn, wheat, and fruit.

The county's development was solidified with the arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in the early 20th century. This railway connected the region with major cities such as Boise and Nampa, boosting the local economy and enabling easier transportation of goods and people across Gem County.

Over time, Gem County expanded economically, diversifying beyond its agricultural and mining roots. Today, the county thrives as a popular tourist destination, offering numerous recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, and camping. With its picturesque landscapes, historical sites, and close-knit communities, Gem County remains a treasured gem in the heart of Idaho.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Gem County, Idaho.

  • 1862: Gold was discovered in the Boise Basin, leading to the settlement of Gem County.
  • 1863: The first post office in the county was established in the town of Placerville.
  • 1864: Gem County was officially organized and established on March 15.
  • 1888: Emmett became the county seat of Gem County.
  • 1933: Black Canyon Dam was completed, providing irrigation and flood control for the area.
  • 1964: The present-day Gem County Courthouse was constructed in Emmett.
  • 1996: A wildfire known as the "Blackwell Fire" burned over 27,000 acres in Gem County.
  • 2018: Gem County celebrated its 154th anniversary.