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Gem County


Facts & Information

The Cities and communities of Gem County, Idaho *

Emmett (County Seat)






*This list of cities may not be complete. The list may contain towns, cities, villages, boroughs, neighborhoods, townships, ghost towns and other populated places.

If you have information about any of these unlinked communities, please send it to us and we will add a page for that community. Some of these places above may only be neighborhoods or local area names and are not listed with the census at all or just included in a larger surrounding designated census area..

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Information & Facts about Gem County, Idaho



Gem County official website

Emmett is the County Seat

Gem County Courthouse
415 E. Main
Emmett, ID 83617
Fax: 208.368.6172

City of Emmett website



2002: 15,482
2000: 15,281

2000 - 27 persons per square mile



Located thirty miles northwest of Boise on Highway 16 in southwestern Idaho. Neighboring counties include Payette County to the west and Canyon County to the southwest. To the south is Ada County and to the east is Boise County. Valley County is to the northeast and Adams County to the north. Finally, Washington County is to the northwest.


Average annual rainfall: 13.1 inches
Average annual snowfall: 17.2 inches

Here is a current weather page for the area

Other Facts & Figures:

Average Home Sale Price
New: $106,000
Existing: $ 99,900


Here is a history page for Gem County
This page has good historical information, particularly about the ghost town of Pearl.

Gem County was formed on 15 March 1915 and named after the state nickname of the Gem State. The area was also known as the Gem of the Payette. Also, because of the fertility of the soil here, it was called the Gem of Plenty by the fruit packers. Early visitors to the area were fur trappers in the early 1800's. Squaw Creek was explored by Alexander Ross in 1824. It wasn't until the early 1860's that the area began to be populated. This began with the miners pasing through to the Boise Basin gold rush in 1862. Shortly thereafter, the area around the Payette River was irrigated paving the way for more development.

Fur trappers were in the area as early as 1818 and Alexander Ross explored Squaw Creek in 1824. Prospectors and miners moved through the county in 1862 in route to the gold rush in the Boise Basin, and by the next year irrigation began along the Payette River. At the north end of the valley is Squaw Butte that stands 5,906 feet above sea level. The area was used by local Indians during the winter. In 1863, a ferry to cross the Payette River was built by Nathaniel Martin and Jonathan Smith. Martinsville began to be built up around the ferry site. Soon other businesses opened here with trade from the local people as well as from the Basin Trail. A store and grist mill were opened the next year by Doc Burdge.


Total land area: 563 square miles

Elevation: 2,375 feet above sea level. Some areas are lower or higher than this elevation in the Emmett area.


Kindred Trails for Gem County
Roots Web for Gem County
US GenWeb for Gem County

Stories and Memories page for Gem County
Gem County cemeteries and other contact information

Family History Center
980 W Central
Emmett, ID 83617
(208) 365-6142


Emmett Public Library
275 S. Hayes
Emmett, ID 83617
Phone: (208) 365-6057
Fax: (208) 365-6060


Independent School District of Emmett 221
601 East Third Street
Emmett, Idaho 83617
Phone: 208-365-6301


Economic Development Grows Economies (EDGE)
109 S. McKinley
Emmett, ID 83617
Phone: 208-365-4743
the economic development partnership of Gem/Boise Counties and the cities of Emmett, Horseshoe Bend and Idaho City

Organizations & Groups:

Gem County Chamber of Commerce
Phone: 208-365-3485

Gem County Historical Society and Museum
501 East 1st Street
Emmett, ID 83617
Phone: 208-365-9530 or 208-365-4340

Attractions & Other Information:

This page has pictures of the Gem County area.

Black Canyon Dam
First built in 1905 to tame the Payette River, a larger and more modern 183 foot dam was finished in 1924. The dam has helped farms and towns all over the basin as well as provided recreation in the reservoir behind the dam.

Emmett Sawmill Site
The timber industry here began in the late 1800's. The Boise Payette Lumber Company bought the site in 1917. The company later became the Boise Cascade Company and finally the Boise Corporation. During the mid 1900's, the mill was the fifth largest in the world, but a declining industry prompted the company to close the mill around 2000. It operates with a minimal crew at this time (2005)

Historical Museum
501 E Hawthorne
Emmett, ID 83617
Phone: 208-365-9530

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This page was last updated on 26 August 2006 at 10:17 pm

This page was created on 28 January 2005

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