History of Idaho, Volume 1, by Hiram T. French, M.S.
The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1914, Page 276-278


Payette is located at the confluence of the Snake and Payette rivers and is the gateway of the famous Payette valley. It was founded in the early '80s by the Oregon Short Line Company when its trunk road was being constructed through Idaho.

This city reflects the growth and productiveness of the valley, the early settlement of which was facilitated by the splendid water supply of the river and the ease with which the water could be gotten on these fertile lands. The fruits and produce grown in the valley of the Payette and displayed at various fairs and expositions did more, possibly, than the exhibits from any other one section to fix Idaho as a farming and fruit state in the mind of the public. The leading commercial crops of the district are apples, prunes, melons, berries and alfalfa, but all grains, fruits and vegetables suitable to the temperate zone do well here.

Many of the business enterprises of Payette are, naturally, directly connected with the products of the soil. There are three fruit packing houses, one of which is a cooperative concern which is owned and operated by a number of prominent fruit growers. During the season for picking and packing the prunes and apples there is a heavy demand for labor and men, women and children lend their aid.

Several businesses, of great advantage in the profitable handling of the output of the valley, have been established recently. Probably the most important of these is the Payette Cold Storage plant, which has 220,000 cubic feet of cold storage room and 120,000 cubic feet of dry storage space. This enables the fruit and melon growers to cool their produce before shipping, or, if necessary, to hold it for more favorable market conditions.

Another new concern is the Payette Canning Company, which ships annually about fifty carloads of canned peas and half that number of canned fruits. There is also an evaporator for the drying of fruits, and a plant where vinegar, cider and pickles are made. These institutions, which make possible advantageous marketing and the working up of the surplus into canned goods and by-products, have increased the already large profits realized by the growers of this section.

An idea of the wealth of the surrounding country may be gained from the following figures, which are selected from the latest statement of annual carload shipments from Payette: Apples, 310 cars; dried prunes, 150; melons, 23; potatoes, 4; hay, 10; wool, 15; hogs, 5; cattle, 28; sheep, 63.

Other Payette manufacturing concerns are the two flouring mills and the brick yards, which have a yearly output of one and a half million bricks. There are in the city three banking institutions with deposits aggregating $700,000.

From Payette a branch of the Oregon Short Line extends up the valley, which is known as the Payette Valley Railroad, sometimes dubbed the "Pumpkin Vine." For years the terminus of this spur was at New Plymouth, but it now reaches Emmett, where it connects with the Idaho Northern.

Another important development in the way of transportation is the wagon bridge across the Snake river, by which there has been made tributary to Payette a rich section on the Oregon side, formerly known as the Dead Ox Flat country, but to which lately there has been applied the more pleasing appellation of "Payette-Oregon Slope." Several thousand acres of this land, which is of more than ordinary fertility, have been brought under water, and it is believed that eventually all of these extensive benches will be irrigated.

The Commercial Club has given especial attention to the question of roads, and the various highways leading into Payette have been put in first-class condition. In many western cities the women, through the civic departments of their organizations, take an active part in public affairs, and supplement the work of and cooperate with the commercial clubs and city councils. Their efforts are usually directed toward forwarding city beautifying, library work and educational interests, and the Portia Club, of Payette, has labored valiantly along these lines.

Payette is a modern city of three thousand. It has recently enlarged its water system so as to include all sections of the town. Its streets and buildings are electrically lighted. Its sewer system is new and ample. The new city hall, just completed, was erected at a cost of $15,000. In addition to the usual offices in such buildings, commodious quarters have been provided in it for the Commercial and Portia clubs.

In the matter of churches and schools, Payette ranks high. There are eleven houses of worship. For the public schools there are two ward and one high school buildings. An unusual educational feature is the Washoe Community school, one and a half miles from Payette, which is described in the chapter on educational institutions.

Payette is justly proud of its Y. M. C. A. building which is one of the best equipped and most modern in the Northwest. The character of the natural resources surrounding makes Payette essentially a city of homes, and not only in it but throughout the far famed valley are beautiful, tasteful residences which house a contented, prosperous people.

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