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Until the early 1960s, when Highway 99 was built, Pemberton was accessible only by train and the population was under 200 people.
Pemberton is known as the "Seed Potato Capital of the World" due to its production of virus-free seed potatoes.
The local economy is also dependent on logging and tourism. Currie rises to the south, at 8,500 ft (2,591 m), and can be seen throughout the Pemberton Valley.
Forest service roads brought forest service campsites, trail heads, view points and access to many of the lakes, mountains, and hot springs in the area.
The climate of Pemberton is very warm and dry in the summer and mild and wet in the winter.
Pemberton is an ecologically complex and diverse zone which is referred to as the Coast-Interior Transition zone.Moving from west to east in the direction of the prevailing winds and taking into consideration the elevation changes; it follows that there is a windward, wetter zone and a leeward drier zone and an even drier zone on the leeward side of the Lillooet Ranges and the Pacific Ranges north of the rail line.High summer temperatures and the pronounced water deficits during the growing season are the norm.In 1827, the Hudson's Bay Company's men first penetrated the valleys of the Birkenhead and Lillooet Rivers.Frances Ermantinger arrived then by way of Seton lake and Anderson Lake, and James Murray Yale came three years later, having made the trip north from Fort Langley.In all likelihood both men were searching for a safe route for fur brigades from Kamloops and Fort Langley, for a route to bypass the lower Fraser River canyons.