"Marysville - Historic Sacramento Valley City" Marysville by WulfstanTraveller

Marysville Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 90 photos

Historic City and Seat of Yuba County

Marysville, county seat of Yuba County, is an historic city that was early one one of the most improtant cities in California. For many years, particularly in the 1850s through 1870s, it was one of the largest cities in the state and the 3rd most important commercial centre in California, for a time being surpassed in importance as a commercial centre only by San Francisco and Sacramento. For a few years, only those cities and Nevada City had more people (although the populations of the mining towns are a little hard to pin down accurately).

Incorporated in 1851and one of the first ten cities to be incorporated in the state, it also was originally one of the most important early cities in California. In particular, it was a key leader in the change to the post-Gold Rush economy. It was a leading voice in the initial transition away from the mining-centred economy to an economy based more on agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing. It lead many of the early fights between the miners and the towns in the Central Valley in disputes over such issues as water, pollution, etc.

In part, this was because of its initial strategic and commercially critical location at the confluence of the Feather and Yuba Rivers (the Feather being a large tributary of the Sacramento River) and at the base of the foothills, giving it a natural position to dominate trade and commerce in the region.

In part, though, it was also because its interests, while initially based partly on servicing the mining regions, soon became diametrically opposed to the mining interests. The Marysville floods which heavily damaged the town being blamed on tailings and general mining pollution of the Yuba and Feather Rivers. Mining, particularly hydraulic mining up the river in the region of Nevada City and other places around it, allegedly lead to huge deposits of material in the river, ultimately leading to a deluge that hit the town. The town subsequently built a levee system that still is in use here as in much of the Sacramento Valley, but became hemmed in between the two rivers.

Shadow of it Former Self

Marysville, like most of California's early prominent citues, unfortunately later stagnated and then declined precipitously. In the 20th century, especially the latter half, history left the town behind and it became an impoverished backwater, the once large, bustling downtown left to rot. The culture of the automobile did its fair share of work, with commerce and society abandoning the downtown for shopping centres and the like, mostly in neighbouring Yuba City, once a tiny town in the shadow of much more important Marysville but now much larger.

Buildings like the huge Hotel Marysville became abandoned, the unique castle-like courthouse from the 1870s was torn down, and much of downtown decayed.

Recent Revival

Thankfully, downtown Marysville has seen a recent little revival that appears to be saving its attractive and historic downtown. This is due in part to the recent rediscovery of the great character and natural social lure of downtowns and the fact that Marysville has a lot of history and by far the largest downtown in the region. D Street in particular, and blocks immediately off it, are fairly lively, attractive with well-maintained buildngs and a number of businesses of all sorts.

  • Last visit to Marysville: Nov 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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