The Bear River Massacre occurred in 1863 at a point a few miles northwest of Preston.
In 1866, Mormon pioneers arrived in the northern end of the Cache Valley, stretching across southeastern Idaho and northeastern Utah. They founded a town in that location and named it Worm Creek, but later changed it to Preston.
Preston is located at 42°5'43" North, 111°52'31" West (42.095160, -111.875330).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.3 km² (6.7 mi²). 17.3 km² (6.7 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.
There are many mountains around the city that reach an elevation of more than 10,000 feet above sea level. In the south, in both Utah and Idaho, are irrigated fields. Nearby is the Cub River Canyon, which is a popular recreation area.
Within Preston itself, US Highway 91 is the main north-south street, State Street. By taking Highway 91, it is possible to travel to Preston from Logan, Utah. Oneida Street, also Idaho Highway 36 is the primary west-east road. Preston is a brief drive from Interstate 15.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,682 people, 1,529 households, and 1,200 families residing in the city. The population density was 270.6/km² (701.0/mi²). There were 1,640 housing units at an average density of 94.8/km² (245.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.22% White, 0.09% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.12% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 5.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,529 households out of which 44.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.2% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.5% were non-families. 20.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.50.
In the city the population was spread out with 35.3% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 95.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,204, and the median income for a family was $39,537. Males had a median income of $29,247 versus $20,652 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,751. 6.7% of the population and 5.9% of families were below the poverty line. 5.9% of those under the age of 18 and 6.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Preston is the home of filmmaker Jared Hess, who filmed Napoleon Dynamite (2004) there. Several area landmarks can be seen throughout the film. Much of Napoleon Dynamite was shot in Preston High School, located several blocks from US Highway 91.