Gold was discovered in the Boise Basin mountains near Idaho City in 1862. The settlement at Warrinersville on the Payette River was an early gold miner’s staging area. Many of the early prospectors waited in Warrinersville for the snows to thaw at higher elevations before heading into the mountains and trying their luck. After most of the gold rush was over, the area turned to ranching and logging, and Warrinersville had its name changed to Horsehoe Bend (because the settlement was in a horseshoe-shaped bend in the Payette River). In 1913, the railroad arrived, building its way up from Emmett alongside the Payette.
Today, Horseshoe Bend sits on Highway 55, the Payette River Scenic Byway that travels between Boise and the Cascade-Tamarack-McCall area. Horseshoe Bend is also the largest town in Boise County and the townsfolk are trying to get the county seat moved there from Idaho City. A large percentage of the population works in Boise, 19 miles to the south. The Thunder Mountain Line, a scenic railroad, has its main terminal in Horsehoe Bend.