Pop. 5,490

The year 1862 saw the arrival of the first emigrants to this area. They traveled over Freezeout Hill and across the Payette River where Emmett now lies. Some members of the group were headed to Oregon; others wanted to find their way to the Florence Basin mines. In 1864, two men, Nathaniel Martin and Jonathan Smith, settled at the Emmett townsite and built a roadhouse and ferry. They charged $1.00 for a team and $.25 for an individual to cross over. The two men named their growing settlement Martinsville.

In 1870 a post office was established seven miles from Martindale. Thomas Cahalan was named the first postmaster and thereby received authority to dub the town Emmettsville after his son, Emmett. In 1900, the name was shortened to Emmett. Six years later, the post office was moved to Martinsville, and the name Emmett followed.

James Wardell is recognized for organizing and platting the townsite in 1883. He laid out the streets, and in 1884, a bridge was built across the Payette River. When the Rossi irrigation ditch was established, orchards were planted with apples, cherries, peaches, and apricots. The orchards’ profit potential increased greatly when the Oregon Short Line Railroad linked the town to large markets in 1902. By 1928, Emmett had established itself as the largest export stop along the Union Pacific line, shipping out not only fruit, but also lumber, livestock, and ice. Wool was also distributed through Emmett, sheared from the 100,000 sheep that were raised in the area. Before the construction of the Black Canyon Dam which interferred with spawning, salmon fishing used to be a significant industry in the area. Today, most of the industries that helped establish Emmett remain as economic mainstays.

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