For 21 years, the Gem County Historical Museum has held the “River Through Time.” Come and celebrate our history with a chronological live re-enactment camp of those who settled the Payette River.
This free admission and parking, annual event celebrates the people who settled the Payette River for the first 150 years of our history. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. Oct. 5 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Gem Island Sports Complex. The 57-acre island has been the perfect place to stroll through the Emmett valley history. Have fun by dressing you and your children in period clothing so they can become part of this living event. Bring a picnic and watch the island come to life!
You begin walking by a Native American teepee which you can enter and explore. The fur traders and trappers date from 1815 and will display an array of furs at their camp. You may get to shoot a musket rifle with a mountain man. Francois Payette was a well-known Hudson Bay trapper and hunter who trapped beaver in this area in the mid-1830s.
As you work your way through the years you can ask questions about their clothing and crafts during that particular time in history. Re-enactors constantly strive to be as authentic, realistic and historic to the time periods along the river.
Observe the pioneer immigrants who traveled to this area over the historic Goodale Trail, which is an off-shoot of the Oregon Trail. Kids will make their own butter as the pioneers tell the stories of the 1800s as they cook over open fires. They can play with pioneer kids toys, visit an authentic wagon train, or walk inside of an actual Idaho sheepherder’s wagon. You can hear stories about pioneer Andy Little who became “Idaho’s Sheep King.”
You may run into a cowboy or miner who will talk you into panning for gold from the hills and you get to keep any gold you find! Many early pioneers came to this valley in search of gold. Panning for gold is one of the top entertainment activities at the River Through Time. Keep walking and you will see a pioneer lady spinning wool from a spinning wheel. Kids love to dig for artifacts in the archeological pit and will find all kinds of treasures.
You will notice the Civil War re-enactment and definitely hear it! The Napoleon cannon will go off exactly every hour. Hear the noise and watch the smoke explode from the cannon. It is something you do not want to miss. Stroll through the Civil War encampment and talk to Union and Northern soldiers about their war experiences. In the early mornings, military figures will begin to move about and huddle over campfires while the coffee brews. During their skirmishes, watch them fall to order and shoot their musket rifles. Soldiers with the Idaho Civil War Volunteers will skirmish every hour. They come from all over the Treasure Valley, Emmett and Idaho Falls.
Kids can grab candy shot out of a real cannon. Look around and you will find the 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln. Kuna’s Skip Critell has been re-enacting Lincoln at the River Through Time for 13 years. You can bring a camera to take a photo of you shaking hands with President Lincoln.
There will also be a general store, ran by the Gem County Historical Museum filled with history books for sale, postcards, pioneer toys, a quilt with raffle tickets, candy sticks for the kids and much more. All purchases and donations benefit the museum. The River Through Time is a great way to supplement the education of children through the experience while learning the history of their valley.
To find the Gem Island Sports Complex, take West Main Street to Canal Street. Turn west on Canal Street and follow the signs or just follow the noise from the Civil War cannon.
Call the museum if you would like to become a volunteer history re-enactor. The Gem County Historical Museum is at 501 E. First St., Emmett. 208-365-9530.