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Destination Nevada County

Premium visitors magazine for Nevada County produced by the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

Welcome to Grass Valley

Welcome to Grass Valley 34 DESTINATION Nevada County

GREATER GRASS VALLEY CHAMBER By Robin Galvan-Davies CEO Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Grass Valley Visitor Center I love Grass Valley; it is a remarkable and resilient town. The history runs deep, and when you turn the pages beyond mining and commercial history, you’ll find stories woven into the tapestry of our community that make you laugh, cry, wonder, and confirm your faith in human kindness. At the Grass Valley Visitors Center, we have the privilege of showcasing every aspect of Western Nevada County and the honor of meeting thousands upon thousands of people who come through our doors seeking information. One of the most frequently asked questions, besides, “May I use the bathroom?” is “How did Grass Valley get its name?” It’s not a glamorous story, more pragmatic, in fact. A friend, who is a dedicated Nevada County historian, recently shared our city’s beginnings, so I’ll share it with you. In the early months of the Gold Rush, Grass Valley was just that—a grassy valley with Wolf Creek running through it, providing water for grazing livestock. A handful of cabins were built along the creek, along with a couple of saloons, but it wasn’t a town in any sense of the word. The largest mining camp was at Boston Ravine (near the present-day Pine Creek Shopping Center), so the name of the camp became the community’s original name. However, a year later, a settlement halfway between the county’s principal towns of Rough and Ready and Nevada City was established. Known as Centerville, it was at the top of West Main Street, close to the Gold Hill Mine, the site of the first gold-bearing quartz discovery in 1850. As Centerville continued to grow, the area east of town also began to develop. It was flatter and more conducive to a townsite; streets were carved out, and a post office established. And since the bottom of the hill was already being called Grass Valley by men working for the Grass Valley Gold Mining Company, that quickly became the town’s name. This excerpt from William Frederick Prisk’s Pictorial History of Nevada County is my absolute favorite. In 1895 here’s how he described Grass Valley: “nestled among the pine-clad hills, whose sunny slopes are dotted with the fragrant gardens and cozy homes of the industrious miner . . . its narrow streets, lined on either side with handsome cottages and elegant residences, gives it a picturesqueness and an air of romance, which can never be attained by the wellplanned, straightavenued modern town.” Affectionately called “The T” the intersection of Mill Street and Main Street is the heart of Grass Valley and reflects much of the historic Gold Rush flavor. It’s those early settlers and the following generations who helped make Grass Valley the commercial center of Western Nevada County. They formed the backbone of our community. Their indomitable spirit, dedication, determination, humor, heritage, and vision flavors the legacy of our community. Have you heard the expression “the streets were paved with gold”? That place was Grass Valley. Yes, really! In 1909 Grass Valley was modernizing, and the Massachusetts Mine brought loads of crushed rock from their mine DESTINATION Nevada County 35