Lytton was built on the former site of a Nlaka’pamux (see Interior Salish) village called ƛ’q’əmcín (Camchin), meaning roughly “crossing over.” Including the five First Nations communities nearby, the area’s population totals more than 2,000 people.
The Fraser River Gold Rush in the late 1850s brought early European settlers to the area. In 1858, the settlement was named after Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, British colonial secretary and popular Victorian novelist. It was a stopping point on the Cariboo Road beginning in the 1860s (see also Cariboo Gold Rush). A bridge over the Thompson River was washed away in the great Fraser River flood of 1894.
Logging and sawmilling played an important role in Lytton’s economy until its sawmill closed in 2008. Ginseng was a valuable crop for the area from the 1980s until the collapse of the British Columbia ginseng industry, which brought the total number of ginseng farms in the province from a peak of about 130 to just two by 2012. Agriculture nevertheless remains an economic base of the village, along with tourism. Whitewater rafting on local rivers and hiking in Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park bring many international visitors.