Nevada City is in the Foothills of the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of 2500 feet. The common saying here goes, “Above the fog and below the snow.” meaning we do not get the Sacramento winter valley fog or the snow from Lake Tahoe.
Nevada City was founded in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. It became one of the richest mining areas in California and thus was given the name “Queen of the Northern Mines”. The population reached well over 10,000 at its height.
Today, with a population of just over 3000, Nevada City retains its cultural heritage with the beauty of its site and the character of the old restored buildings. The entire downtown is an award winning historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the downtown the streets branch out to wonderful neighborhoods filled with restored Victorian homes and large Maple trees that turn the town into a New England look-alike in the fall.
Modern day Nevada City is full of unique shops, art galleries, fine restaurants and award winning musical and theater productions. It is a town that has attracted many artists, musicians and writers, giving it a new, rich culture. And the area has also attracted many high tech business companies who have been able to relocate from Silicon Valley for what they see as a much better quality of life for their families. With housing 20% to 40% less than the Bay Area and some of the top schools in the state, Nevada City has become a one of the most desirable small towns in the nation.
Nevada City is in one of the most popular areas for outdoor sports and has been named one of the top 10 outdoor recreation destinations by Outside Magazine. There is the popular Yuba River, many lakes, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, skiing, snowshoeing and much more. All of this is within 15 minutes to an hour from your home, if not right outside your door.
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Time Magazine has called Grass Valley “one of the top ten best small towns to live in.” The downtown Grass Valley area is considered by many to be the one of the best preserved historic towns in the United States.
Grass Valley is located in the California Sierra Foothills, just an hour from Sacramento, an hour and fifteen minutes from Lake Tahoe and three hours from San Francisco. There are tall pines and a definite rural feel. The downtown has great shops and fine restaurants and the historic Del Oro Theater. It is a well known destination for tourists, especially from the San Francisco Bay Area.
The early pioneers, settlers and prospectors who crossed the plains of the central United States, pushed over the Rocky Mountains, endured the harsh deserts of Nevada, and then made it over the Sierra Nevada Mountains via the Donner Pass before the snows fell. They often rested from their labors for a few days at Greenhorn Creek, near the present location of Nevada City.
Their cattle would frequently stray and would later be found about 3.5 miles west of their encampment. The cattle would be grazing on lush, sweet, green grass. This area was dubbed “the grassy valley”, as it was a green oasis and a very pleasant resting stop. It can still be seen driving along East Bennett Road.
During the late summer of 1849, two small bands of emigrants decided that they had traveled far enough and elected to stay the winter. This was the start of the town of Grass Valley, originally called Boston’s Ravine.
Small shops and restaurants opened, and bit by bit families began to move into what was once a wild mining town. Nevada City was initially the location that was chosen to live in by the more established families, so it developed a bit faster than Grass Valley.
Today, both cities continue to hold their beauty and history. They both offer opportunities of all kinds to their present day residents. The area is now called “Little Silicon Valley,” as high tech industry finds living and working in the area to be a wonderful way to go.