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Native Americans in the United StatesNative Americans were the first inhabitants of the land in and around McCall. Three tribes, the Shoshone, a sub-band of the Shoshone known as the "Sheepeaters," and the Nez Perce, inhabited the land primarily in the summer and migrated during the harsh winter months.
In the early 1800s the nomadic French Canadian fur trapper, PayetteFrançois Payette, roamed the area alongside other mountain men like Jim Bridger, Peter Skene Ogden and Jedediah Smith.
During the 1860s miningminers temporarily named the settlement "Lake City", but only alluviumalluvial gold was discovered and they moved 50 miles north to the town of Warren.
The settlement of McCall was established by Thomas and Louisa McCall circa 1889-1891. For a cabin and assumed rights to the 160 acres of land, they traded a team of horses with Sam Dever, who held the squatter rights. Tom, his wife, four sons and a daughter lived in the cabin located on the shore of the lake near present day Hotel McCall. He established a school, hotel, saloon and post office, naming himself as postmaster. He purchased a sawmill from the Warren Dredging company and later sold it to the Hoff & Brown Lumber Company, which would become the driving economic force until its closure in 1977.
During this time Anneas "Jews Harp Jack" Wyatte provided the first recreational sailboat rides around the lake for tourists and advertised in the Idaho Statesman a "30 foot sailing yacht for the use of parties who might visit the lake". The Statesman referred to McCall as a "pleasure resort".
Tourism continued in the early 1900s. In June 1902, the Boydstun Hotel in nearby Lardo opened as a "place to stay and camp on Payette Lake". In 1906, Charlie Nelson opened a tented camping area known as Sylvan Beach Resort along the west side of Payette Lake. In 1907, Lardo Inn opened for business. The arrival of the Oregon Short Line railroad (later named the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad) in 1914 secured McCall as a viable community and tourist destination. Three years later McCall was incorporated as a village. In the 1920s the State Land Board started leasing homesites along the lake.
The now famous Winter Carnival started in 1923-1924. Reports vary between hundreds to thousands of tourists visiting the festivities.