Archaeological evidence shows that people have inhabited the area around present-day Midvale for thousands of years. In the early 1960s, a complex of sites thousands of years old was discovered on Midvale Hill, roughly a few miles southwest of Midvale.
The name “Midvale” is a shortened version of its former name, “Middle Valley,” located as it is between the Salubria and Weiser Valleys. The first white settlers, John Reed and his family, arrived in 1868 and built a one-room log cabin on the Weiser River, established a sawmill on Pine Creek, and there raised a family of eight children. Others began to arrive in the 1870s, but in 1881 the town jumped in population when forty travelers from an Oregon-bound wagon train decided to remain in this “middle valley.”
A wooden bridge was built across the Weiser River in 1883, which was used for decades (until a steel bridge was finally erected in 1911)—but spring’s run-off often washed out the land on either side. One story from the mid-1890s tells of a young couple from the east side of the Weiser River who had set a spring wedding date; however, because of the usual high water the bridge was impassable, so the minister simply stood on the opposite shore and conducted the ceremony from there. The Pacific & Idaho Northern railroad tracks reached Midvale in 1899, and during the early decades of the 20th century, sheep ranching was Midvale’s chief business.