Robinette was platted around 1898, along a Northwest Railway Company line that never developed. In 1909, a railroad station and townsite at this locale were named for James E. Robinette, a native of Maryland. Robinette came to what was then Union County in 1884 and settled on the west bank of the Snake River near the mouth of the Powder River in 1887. Robinette post office was also established in 1909.
By 1940, when Robinette had a population of 46, it was the northern terminus of a branch line of the Union Pacific Railroad (Oregon Short Line) that ran along the Snake River from Huntington, and served the Pine Valley and Eagle Valley agricultural areas to the north. The line had previously extended 25 miles further north to Homestead, but that section, which was used to haul ore from the Cornucopia area mines, was later abandoned and the railroad grade was converted into a highway. The Robinette railhead of the Union Pacific branch line "probably generated most of the freight hauled by the railroad."
The townsite is now under the water of the Brownlee Reservoir, which was created by the damming of the Snake River by the Brownlee Dam in 1958. Before the flooding, the Robinette Store was moved to Richland, where it still stands today. Richland, the closest city to Robinette, was formerly accessible by a road along the Powder River that has since been flooded by the reservoir. The post office was closed in 1957. As of 2010, United States Geological Survey still classified Robinette as a populated place.
Robinette was home to the Stil-Van Lumber Company from 1949 until just prior to the town being flooded. Marion Dale Stillwell sold the company, including timber rights, to Ellingson Lumber Company from Baker City. Stillwell also received compensation when the Robinette facility flooded.
- "Robinette". Geographic Names Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Bailey, Barbara Ruth (1982). Main Street: Northeastern Oregon. Oregon Historical Society. p. 52. ISBN 0-87595-073-6.
- McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [First published 1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 816. ISBN 9780875952772. OCLC 53075956.
- Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oregon (1940). Oregon: End of the Trail. American Guide Series. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort. p. 288. OCLC 4874569.
- "Image of Railroad trestle over Powder River at confluence with Snake River". Baker County Library. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Image of Robinette Store and Post Office". Baker County Library. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Image of Robinette Depot and Store". Baker County Library. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Morisette, Martin (2005). Green Gold: Stil-Van Lumber Company. pp. 319–328. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Historic image of Robinette, circa 1950 from Baker County Library (20 more photos available by searching on keyword "Robinette")
- Biography of James E. Robinette from The Centennial History of Oregon
- History of the Robinette fire in 1920
- 1956 article about Smithsonian Institution finding 1000-year-old artifacts at Robinette