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July 26, 2021

Road Trip 2021 - Nevada City and Grass Valley

West of Truckee California is Nevada City and Grass Valley.  San Diego’s Armchair Hiker lived in this area for 30 years.  I used his blog on Donner Pass as a list of suggestions for our time in the area.  Jeff loaded us up with lots of reasons this was a great place to grow up.  He's hiked much of the Donner and Emigrant Trails, search his blog for hikes and ideas when visiting this area.  One thing he did not mention is how difficult it would be to find RV parking on the steep streets of Nevada City.  With the help of the local sheriff we were directed to a back lot, just big enough for our little rig.

But I need to start with our travel here and what we missed, due to road construction on Donner Pass Road. From Jeff's Donner Pass blog we missed:
No petroglyphs
No China Wall
No Tunnels (altho we could see them from I-80)
No [Bixbie] bridge (altho we could see it as well).

However CA-20 is a beautiful 2-lane drive through the forests.  The Omega Diggings Overlook offers a rest stop with a short nature trail to the viewpoint.


The Chamber of Commerce was closed during our visit.  A walking tour guide would have been helpful, but we did fine wandering the Historic District on our own, with the help of the kiosk and a crappy pdf map I had downloaded.

Mark Twain said of the 10 Stamp Mill:


In addition to the mill, the city park also displays the water fittings and cannons used to erode the gold ore from the hills.


This Pelton Water Wheel was also spun with water pressure and generated electricity for Nevada City until 1987.

Yes Pacific Gas and Electric got their start in Nevada City, their first office was in the National Hotel.  Back then California had water ... 

The Nevada Theater, California's Oldest Existing Theatre, opened in September 1865.

Mark Twain, Jack London, Emma Nevada and many others performed here.  The theater is still in use today, but not open on our visit.

There was a large Chinese labor population in Nevada City.


Which inspired us to have a very good and inexpensive Chinese lunch.  I noticed my camera battery was flashing it's about to die warning at lunch.

With my camera battery low, I switched to the cell phone to take pictures after lunch.  I did not realize the lens was scratched until reviewing the pictures.  So no more photos of Nevada City.

But before heading south to Grass Valley we learned that Nevada City was the inspiration for the movie Paint Your Wagon!  Altho not filmed there.
Bull and Bear Fight - yup
Tunnels under the town -yup
Woman with two husbands - yup
Bars, brothels, no churches - yup
All part of the history of Nevada City.  At the end of the movie Lee Marvin leaves for Red Dog – yup it’s just up the hill.
And Herbert Hoover worked in the gold mines there long before becoming president.

Nevada City is the county seat for Nevada County, but the county fairgrounds are south in Grass Valley.  We spent the night at the Nevada County Fairgrounds RV Park with full hookups and long free hot showers.

We spent some time touring the Empire Mine Historic Park.  Founded by Bourne many of the structures and gardens remain in very good condition.


There are a pair of fountains above the reflecting pool.

Large manicured lawns surround the cottage.

Yes that is the cottage!

Miners worked at depths of nearly a mile below ground to extract 5.8 million ounces of gold before the mine was closed in 1956.  Geologists estimate that up to 80% of the gold remains underground.

Nope not a job I would want!

And if rusty stuff is your thing, there is more than enough to satisfy!

Glad I keep my tetanus shot up to date!

We are now heading further east on the ‘Loneliest Road in America’.  Once we complete that journey I'll post the details.