Today Emmett Idaho is surrounded by farms of produce and orchards of fruit tree’s. Today’s fruit packing industry got it’s start by supplying goods to miners in Gem County. Historic numbers show that roughly 20,000 ounces of gold came from Gem County mainly from the Westview District.

Gold was discovered in Gem County in the 1860’s shortly after gold was discovered in the Boise basin and during the mining era, the valley was known as the “garden” to the miners. A well established stagecoach route that cut through the valley led to the quick discovery of Idaho gold soon after.

During the gold rush to the Thunder Mountain Mines, Sweet served as an important freighter’s supply station. At the turn of the century, Sweet boasted of three hotels, three saloons, a bank, a newspaper, two lodge halls, and other business. It was named for the first postmaster Ezekiel Sweet. After the gold rush subsided and a series of fires in the business district, the town began to deteriorate, and was not rebuilt.


Going northeast from Pearl is a bunch of old gold mines.  The largest and most productive gold mine in Gem county was the Red Warrior Mine. The Pearl mines closed in 1906.

Check Mate Mine, near Pearl circa 1903

I have been told rumors that there is some flour gold in the Payette River. That does make sense, since it is the dominating river of the county. My father grew up in Emmett, and I have many relatives who still live there.

Edwin Waters,