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Horseshoe Bend is the largest city in rural Boise County, in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Idaho. Its population of 707 at the 2010 census was the largest in the county, though down from 770 in 2000.
It is part of the Boise City–Nampa, Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is named for its location at the horseshoe-shaped U-turn of the Payette River, whose flow direction changes from south to north before heading west to the Black Canyon Reservoir.
The area was originally settled as a gold miners' staging area, as prospectors waited along the river for snows to thaw at the higher elevations. Gold had been discovered in 1862 in the Boise Basin mountains to the east, near Idaho City.
The settlement became known as Warrinersville, after a local sawmill operator. The name was changed to Horseshoe Bend in 1867, and after the gold rush quieted, the city became a prosperous ranching and logging community. The railroad, from Emmett up to Long Valley following the Payette River (its North Fork above Banks), was completed in 1913.
In 1998 the city's primary employer, Boise Cascade, closed its sawmill on September 30. Horseshoe Bend has attempted to become the county seat of Boise County, replacing historic Idaho City.
Horseshoe Bend sits along State Highway 55, the primary north-south route out of Boise, 23 miles (37 km) to the south and accessed over the 4,242-foot (1,293 m) Spring Valley summit, a.k.a. "Horseshoe Bend Hill." Highway 55 was designated the "Payette River Scenic Byway" in 1977.
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