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It is a typical thriving rural centre with a good sized TAFE college, a rural training college (in very pleasant surroundings), a large number of farm machinery sales outlets, a cotton gin, a huge irrigation dam and an airport.
Established in 1879, it has slowly grown to be the major regional centre of the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Central Western district.
The Capricorn hinterland contains the largest sapphire gemfields in the world.
Like most of the towns of the Central Highlands, Emerald claims that Ludwig Leichhardt was the first European in the area.
It has a better claim than most (with the obvious exception of Taroom) in the sense that Leichhardt named the nearby Comet River after seeing a comet and he inscribed the word 'Dig' on a tree by the banks of the river.
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The tree is now in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.
After Leichhardt's glowing reports on the fertility of the region (who could not be impressed by the rich black clay soils) land was taken up and in 1860 one of the local properties was named 'Emerald Downs' by the area's first settler P. Mac Donald who was impressed with the lush greenness of the district after rain.
In the 1860s both gold and copper were found in the area and there was a brief flurry of interest.
The town was established in 1879 as a base for the railway line which was reaching out from Rockhampton into the Central West.
Unfortunately, little is left of Emerald's early history as it was ravaged by major fires in 1936, 1940, 19.