"Nevada City - Queen of the Northern Mines" Nevada City by WulfstanTraveller

Nevada City Travel Guide: 132 reviews and 319 photos

Queen of the Northern Mines

Nevada City was one of the most significant, if not overall the most significant, gold mining city in all of California starting with the Gold Rush. By the early 1850s, it was one of the three largest cities in California, behind only San Francisco and either above or just below Sacramento in size and commercial importance (it is unclear because the census and other data are not entirely reliable, records, differ, and in the chaotic, haphazard days of the early 1850s accurate information was hard to obtain, especially in places like this with rapid growth, large numbers of people often moving about out in the surrounding countryside rather than staying put in town, many people coming and going, and other towns like Placerville were similarly large at the time). In any case, its population now, of just under 3,000, is only about 1/10th or so of the population at the city's largest.

Although not one of the earliest mining locations, Nevada City grew rapidly starting in about 1850 and was for a time the largest source of gold in the entire state, before being surpassed by its immediate neighbour to the south, Grass Valley. It also remained a prominent mining town for a long time, unlike others such as Mokelumne Hill, with mining remaining a major industry inthe area well into the 1870s with hydraulic mining at areas like Malakoff Diggins.

A Victorian City

As a result of its great importance, very substantial early wealth, size, and long-term mining power, Nevada City grew into a large and relatively urban city in a way few mining towns could even approach. The residents therefore developed a large downtown with many large commercial and government buildings, churches, and large Victorian houses in and around the downtown. This, combined with later stagnation that all the mining towns eventually suffered, means that the city has a rich architectural heritage, a large, vibrant downtown, and an urban feel that few other mining towns have, the only rivals being Grass Valley, Sonora, and Auburn, all of which are larger today.

The town is still fairly compact, with the downtown and extensive old neighbourhoods nestled on and among several hills, with a number of steep streets and a generally striking, varied setting. This is notable particularly in the higher end of Broad Street, the main street, with large houses and churches dominating the higher portion above downtown, and the tall art-deco courthouse dominating the downtown in the other direction.

  • Last visit to Nevada City: Dec 2007
  • Intro Updated Jan 24, 2008
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