Like many places, the history of Paisley is recorded in the local names. Prehistoric people lived here as long as 10,000 years ago. Evidence of their existence has been found in caves and rock paintings in the area. Eventually the Northern Paiute, Modoc, and Klamath Indians settled here and in fact, camped where Paisley is today during some of their hunting and gathering trips. They left their name on the Chewaucan (which means little potato) River, which flows through Paisley.
In 1843, when the first wagons were just starting on the long trek over the Oregon Trail, John C. Fremont was on a mapping and reconnaissance expedition for the Army when he and many of his party passed through here. None of his party stayed, but names given to many geographic features remain, such as Winter Rim 16 December 1843 and Summer Lake.
Not all the settlers crossing the continent on the Oregon Trail were bound for the fertile valleys of the Willamette River. Many came west looking for the open country found around Paisley. By 1870, the town was growing and by 1873, a Post Office was established. An early Scot settler has been credited with naming the town of Paisley after the city in Scotland.
Early day settlers lent their names to many other features such as Harvey Creek, Withers Lake, and Brattain Butte. Decedents of all these families are still in Paisley.
The local economy is mainly based on cattle ranching, the U.S. Forest Service, and recreation. The ZX Ranch, headquarters here, is the largest in the state. There are also three "Century Ranches" in the area, which have been in the same families for over 100 years.
Located on the edge of the Great Basin with the high desert to the east and the Fremont National Forest to the west, Paisley is the hub of an excellent outdoor vacationland. Hunting, fishing, photography, bird watching, rock hounding, hiking and camping opportunities surround us.
Within a short distance from Paisley are clear mountain lakes and streams that have native rainbow trout and brook trout, or are stocked annually by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Upstream from Paisley, the Chewaucan River is a noted fly fishing stream. The Sycan, Sprague and Ana Rivers, as well as numerous creeks in the area offer excellent fishing. Campbell and Dead Horse Lakes, Thompson, Duncan, and Ana Reservoirs offer good lake fishing.
The area is noted for mule deer and antelope, and many can be seen from the roadside almost any time of the year. The Summer Lake Bird Refuge, several miles north on Highway 31, is famous for duck and goose hunting and excellent bird watching. The refuge provides a resting place and nesting area for many species.