Nevada city Travel Guide

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From Hwy 20 looking South into Nevada City

From Hwy 20 looking South into Nevada City

E. Christina Dabis

Nevada City once was a seasonal getaway for the wealthy. Attractions include the Nevada Theatre (the state's oldest continuously operating theater), Miners Foundry, and the Firehouse Museum, as well as Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, site of the largest hydraulic gold mine. (This above-ground mine washed so much material into the Delta to the west, that the state government had to ban the violent technique of washing ore from the hillsides which used a powerful nozzle called a 'monitor').  Today, the area features flourishing wineries.

To complement the wines made in the area, many high quality restaurants are to be found on steep Broad Street in the heart of the small town. Residents and visitors alike note that the food in a few of the establishments rivals what you might find in San Francisco, which is about 150 miles west, but at a lower price. One restaurant is housed in what used to be the jailhouse; if you ask, you might learn the history behind many of the other current establishments - the town has existed since around 1850. Mark Twain performed at the above mentioned Nevada Theatre.

Located about fifty miles east-northeast of California's capital, Sacramento, Nevada City is considered a foothill community, at an elevation of just over 2,000 feet above sea level. The population in 2005 was a little over 11,000 inhabitants, although the larger Nevada County, of which Nevada City is the county seat, extends eastward to the continental divide and the nearly 8,000' high Donner Summit on the way to Lake Tahoe. The city's name is said to have originally been simply 'Nevada', but when the Comstock silver strike in the new territory to the east took hold, there was a competition for the name, with the new state taking 'Nevada',  so the city on the west side of the Sierras became 'Nevada City'.

The adjoining city of Grass Valley blends almost seamlessly with Nevada City, and is the location of the Empire Mine,  once called the "Queen of the Northern Mines."  Great quantities of high grade gold quartz were unearthed here. Now an Historic State Park, you can see on display among other things an amazing scale model that was top-secret in its day; showing all of the tunnels and works cut through hard rock beneath the ground below Grass Valley. The hard rock techniques employed at this and other underground mines attracted experienced miners from Cornwall in Great Britain. One can still find evidence of the Cornish way of life even now, as several small shops serve the hearty turnover sandwiches called 'cornish pasties'.

Nevada City was considered the "mine owner's" town, and Grass Valley the "mine worker's" home. The growing area now boasts a feeling of community between the towns, and one can't help but include each one in a visit. Many historic bed-and-breakfast inns are to be found, and the changing colors of the deciduous trees planted by the early settlers make for spectacular fall foliage around the months of September and October.


June 06, 2005 change by giorgio

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