Cahto was founded by John P. Simpson and Robert White in 1856. They built a hotel there in 1861, and a store in 1865. A post office operated at Cahto from 1863 to 1901. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows maintained Cahto Lodge No. 206 in the town as well, which met in a two-story hall constructed in 1872 that doubled as a public hall and meeting place.
- The California Mining Bureau's 1917 map has the town name misspelled as Canto. Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 91. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
- Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 91. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
- Palmer, Lyman L. (1880). History of Mendocino County, California : Comprising its geography, geology, topography, climatography, springs and timber. Also, extended sketches of its mills and milling, mines and mining interests : also a historical sketch of the state of California, in which is embodied the raising of the bear flag. Allen Bowen & Co.
- Kroeber, Alfred L. (1916), "California place names of Indian origin" (PDF), University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 12 (2): 31–69, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-20, retrieved 2010-08-22.