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Sharon McConnel,
Gem County Coordinator

Welcome to Gem County!

Prospectors and miners moved through this county in 1862 enroute to the gold rush in the Boise Basin to the east. By the next year irrigation begain along the Payette River as farmers raised crops to sell in the mining camps.

In late summer of 1862 Tim Goodale brought his wagon train through the valley, crossed the Payette River, followed Haw Creek into the foothills to the north, crossed Willow Creek (Payette County) traveled up Four-Mile Grade and followed Indian and pack trails to Brownlee Ferry in Hells Canyon.

When Idaho Territory was established in 1863, the area now known as Gem County was part of Boise County. When Ada County was formed in 1864 it included a portion of what is now southern Gem County; then when Canyon County was formed in 1891 it included a portion that later became southern Gem County. The northern part of Gem County remained part of Boise County until Gem County was established March, 1915 with its county seat at Emmett. It was named for the state nickname, "Gem State."

It contains one incorporated town Emmett
and the communities of Sweet
Ola Letha
Pearl (former mining camp)

Part of the northern portion of the county is in the Boise National Forest and parts of the southern portion are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. BLM maintains a fire lookout on Squaw Butte. The Bureau of Reclamation's Black Canyon Dam on the Payette River is also in this county.

I would like to thank Sherri Paustian and Jeanette Harper, past county coordinators, for all the work they did on this site.

If I can answer your questions or point you in the right direction, I will do so. If you have anything you would like to share, please do not hesitate. My e-mail address is Sharon McConnel This site is a collaborative effort of all us who have roots in Gem County.

Copyright © 2009 - Sharon McConnel. All Rights Reserved.