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Destination Nevada County

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

Downtown

Downtown Nevada City Victorian Christmas It’s been said that if you haven’t seen Nevada County you haven’t seen California. And after visiting us, we believe you will agree with that assessment. On the western side of the county, beginning in 1848, Dis rich gold deposits led to communities designed to last, not boomtowns that exploded with anticipation only to become abandoned ghost towns. In the 1860s, on the eastern side of the rugged Sierra Nevada range, the transcontinental railroad was being constructed along the county’s southern boundary, and that led to the development of Truckee. Later, the high-altitude eastern part of the county became a hub for skiing—downhill and cross-country —including Donner Ski Ranch and Boreal Ski Resort, as well as nearby Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. In 1925, because of Truckee’s setting and grandeur, Charlie Chaplain brought a crew there to film Gold Rush. And it was, indeed, the Gold Rush of 1849-1855 that led to the settlement and growth of what today is Nevada County. When news of James Marshall’s January 24, 1848, gold discovery at John Sutter’s sawmill reached the East, many adventurous men headed to California by land or sea, confident they would fill a gunnysack or two with gold nuggets and return home. But the truth is, if you took all the gold extracted during the Gold Rush and divided that amount by the number of adventurers who came here looking for it, the average total income would be about $600 a person. That means that although some became millionaires, few realized their dreams. 4 DESTINATION Nevada County Truckee River Photo credit: Bruce C. Cooper (DigitalImageServices.com) GRASS VALLEY H H C A L I A I F O R N Photo credit: Lizbeth Guerra on flickr

The first prospectors to reach what today are Grass Valley and Nevada City began arriving in the summer of 1848. A few hundred at first, then tens of thousands. Others settled in Rough & Ready, which is why Grass Valley began as Centerville—a small mining camp at the crest of cover West Main Street, halfway between Nevada City and Rough & Ready. Most of the original mining camps of canvas tents and cabins were ravaged by major fires in the 1850s, but Grass Valley and Nevada City rose like the proverbial phoenix with solid brick buildings and stately homes that still stand. One look around and you will see that this area was built for the future—not just for the Gold Rush—and that future remains limitless. The same can be said of Truckee, where a 21st-century community renaissance has created a municipal master plan for other towns to follow. Beginning in the 1970s, high-tech companies in the Bay Area began to relocate to Grass Valley and Nevada City. As they grew, new technology companies emerged— first as incubator endeavors and later as world leaders in medical and television technology. Today, more than two-dozen Nevada County companies can be found at national electronic and technology shows, including the annual National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. But that shouldn’t be a surprise because we have always been the home of leaders and commercial creativity. The men and women who first arrived here to mine included eight future United States senators, a half-dozen future justices of the California State Supreme Court, several future governors, nationally known novelists and poets, entertainers, and a visionary woman entrepreneur —30-year-old Luzena Wilson, from Missouri—who, in 1850, assembled a small table out of a slab of wood using tree branches as legs, fired up a small stove she and her husband had brought west in their covered wagon, and began serving hot meals to miners. Soon, she had enough money to build her own boarding house. In October of 1850, shortly before California’s first election as a state, Stephen Field from Marysville came to Grass Valley and Nevada City (we were then part of Yuba County) campaigning to be our first state assemblyman. He promised voters that if elected he would create a new county, called Nevada County because traveling 35 miles on horseback from here to the Yuba County courthouse in Marysville required a seven-day roundtrip: a three-day ride, one day to take care of legal business, and three days to return here. Field was elected, and in early 1851 the new county of Nevada was carved out of a portion of Yuba County. Once Nevada County was established, Grass Valley and Nevada City grew into two of the most stable, prosperous towns in the state. And what made local growth possible (other than plentiful gold, of course), was an emphasis on making the trip here from any direction as pleasant as possible. The roads from Marysville and Auburn were improved to meet the demand for stagecoach routes, as was the road from Reno to Truckee. Then, in 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed, the Grass Valley/Nevada City area was a short buggy ride to the Central Pacific depot in Colfax, and Truckee became an important rail town. NEVADA CITY H H C A L I A I F O R N TRUCKEE H H Photo credit: Native American Photographer, Dugan Aguilar C A L I F O R N I A DESTINATION Nevada County 5

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