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History of Community

In the earliest days of Idaho settlement, a trail up the Weiser River through what is now Adams County became the principal avenue of travel for pack trains carrying supplies from Boise to the gold camps at Warren and Florence.  This route was easier to travel than the more direct but torturous terrain along the Payette River. The Weiser River trail was also clear of snow earlier in the spring.  

Before non-native settlement began here, the area was inhabited by small bands of Shoshoni Indians. Pioneers who frequented the Council Valley in those early days told of huge groups of Native Americans who gathered here from all over the Northwest.  These Pioneers coined the name “Council Valley” due to the large gatherings of Native Americans and interpreted these gatherings as being “Council” meetings.

The arrival of the railroad in 1882 at the town of Weiser, near the mouth of the Weiser River, spurred rapid growth of the Upper Country.  In 1891 the core of the present town of Council began to form around a town square.  The first business was a hotel / saloon built east of the square.  Another hotel, several stores and many homes soon followed.  In 1896 the name "Council Valley" for the town was shortened to "Council". 

Construction of the railroad up the Weiser River brought a boom to the town beginning in 1898.  For a couple of years Council was a "wide open" town, with about six saloons.  The arrival of the tracks in March of 1901 shortened the trip to Weiser from a bone-jarring two- day trip each way in a wagon to a matter of two or three hours in the comfort of a passenger car.  Copper ore from the Seven Devils mines that had previously been hauled over 100 miles to Weiser was now
loaded onto rail cars at Council. 

When the Thunder Mountain mining boom came in 1902, Council was the nearest rail town to the gold strike and became the "jumping off point" for that gold rush.  Council soon became more civilized, and the town officially incorporated January 20, 1903.  By about 1905 the town had a population of about 1,000.

The area continued to boom throughout the first decade of the twentieth century.  Cattle, sheep, farming and mining formed the core of the economy.  About 1907 the fruit industry began in the Council area on a large scale.  The most famous of the orchards in the area were those of the Mesa Orchards Company, eight miles south of Council.  At its peak the company had 1,200 acres growing various fruit trees (mostly apples) and was one of the biggest orchards in the

In 1911 the railroad reached the Meadows Valley, and a new town called "New Meadows" was established where the tracks ended.  Until 1911 what is now Adams County was part of Washington County.  That year the upper part of Washington County became Adams
County with Council as the temporary county seat.  In the November election of 1912, Council was voted the permanent county seat.

In 1915 the town suffered its worst fire, and lost many of the buildings of its downtown core.  An ordinance was passed requiring new buildings to be made of brick.  Most of the present brick
structures in downtown Council were built right after the 1915 fire.  The new buildings were wired for electricity which reached the town that year.

The 1920s brought hard times to the Council area.  The mining boom had gone bust, and the area was hit hard by the national agricultural depression that followed World War I. By 1929 Council had a population of about 500.  The economy of the area started to improve in 1939 when the
Boise-Payette lumber company built a Sawmill in Council and started logging operations in the surrounding mountains.  The town experienced a boom and a housing shortage.   

A new high school was finished in 1941, just about the time the U.S. jumped into World War
II. For several decades after the War, life and the economy in the Council area were stable, with logging and ranching as its core industries.  In the 1980s timber-related jobs began to decline, and the Council Sawmill closed March 31, 1995. 


Last updated 11/7/2019 3:38:55 PM