Nevada County, California


Nevada County, California
County of Nevada
Nevada City California 2011.jpg
Donner Lake from McClashan Point.jpg
Bridgeport Covered Bridge2.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Downtown Nevada City, Donner Lake, a scene in Rough and Ready, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge
Official seal of Nevada County, California
Interactive map of Nevada County
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
CountryUnited States
RegionSierra Nevada
Metropolitan areaGreater Sacramento
IncorporatedApril 25, 1851[1]
Named forNevada City, which is named after the Spanish word for "snow-covered"
County seatNevada City
Largest cityTruckee (population and area)
 • BodyBoard of Supervisors
 • Total974 sq mi (2,520 km2)
 • Land958 sq mi (2,480 km2)
 • Water16 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation9,152 ft (2,790 m)
 • Total98,764
 • Estimate 
 • Density100/sq mi (39/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code530
FIPS code06-057
GNIS feature ID1682927

Nevada County (audio speaker iconlisten) is a county in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 98,764.[3] The county seat is Nevada City.[5] Nevada County comprises the Truckee-Grass Valley, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Sacramento-Roseville, CA Combined Statistical Area, part of the Mother Lode Country.


Martis Creek Lake and Dam at the southern end of Nevada County near Truckee. At full pool the lake extends into Placer County in the distance to the south.
Martis Creek Lake and Dam in Nevada County. This picture was actually taken over Placer County, looking north into Nevada County.

Created in 1851, from portions of Yuba County, Nevada County was named after the mining town of Nevada City, a name derived from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The word nevada is Spanish for "snowy" or "snow-covered."[6]

Nevada City was the first to use the word "Nevada" in its name. In 1851 the newly formed Nevada County used the same name as the county seat. The bordering state of Nevada used the same name in 1864. The region came to life in the Gold Rush of 1849. Many historical sites remain to mark the birth of this important region in California's formative years. Among them are the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, the oldest theater built in California in 1865. It operates to this day and once hosted Mark Twain among other historical figures. The Old 5 Mile House stagecoach stop built in 1890, also operates to this day as a provider of hospitality spanning three centuries. This historical site still features "The stagecoach safe" that is on display outside the present day restaurant and is the source of many legends of stagecoach robbers and notorious highwaymen in the California gold rush era. The gold industry in Nevada County thrived into the post-WWII days.

Gold nugget of about 6 troy ounces, from the Yuba River placers of Nevada County. Size: 8.3 x 2.8 x 2.3 cm.

The county had many firsts and historic technological moments. The first long-distance telephone in the world, built in 1877 by the Ridge Telephone Company, connected French Corral with French Lake, 58 miles (93 km) away.[7] It was operated by the Milton Mining Company from a building on this site that had been erected about 1853. The Pelton wheel, designed to power gold mines, still drives hydro-electric generators today. Nevada City and Grass Valley were among the first California towns with electric lights. The Olympics, NASA, and virtually every television station around the country utilizes video/broadcasting equipment designed and manufactured by Grass Valley Group, founded in Grass Valley.

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1876 and was the only railroad in the West that was never robbed, even though its primary freight was gold. (Builder-owner John Flint Kidder's reputation made it clear that he would personally hunt down and kill anyone who tried.) The rail line closed in 1942 and was torn up for scrap.

In Grass Valley the historic Holbrooke Hotel opened in 1851 and housed Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and four U.S. presidents (Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and James A. Garfield).

The Community of Rough and Ready seceded from the Union for a time and became the Great Republic of Rough and Ready.

Nevada County is home to the Empire Mine Historic State Park, which is the site of one of the oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California. The park is in Grass Valley at 10791 East Empire Street. In operation for more than 100 years, the mine extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold before it closed in 1956.

The 2001 Nevada County shootings occurred on January 10, 2001, in which Scott Harlan Thorpe murdered three people in a shooting spree. Two of the victims were murdered in Nevada City and a third victim was killed in Grass Valley. Thorpe was arrested and declared not guilty by reason of insanity. He currently resides in Napa State Hospital.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 974 square miles (2,520 km2), of which 958 square miles (2,480 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.6%) is water.[8] The county is drained by Middle and South Yuba rivers.[9]

The western part of the county is defined by the course of several rivers and the irregular boundaries of adjoining counties. When the county was created, the founders wanted to include access to the transcontinental railroad, so a rectangular section was added that includes the railroad town of Truckee. What is remarkable about this is that the final shape of the county closely resembles the Deringer pocket pistol, a favorite at the time of the more urbane residents of this gold rush county.

Nevada County is one of four counties in the United States to border a state with which it shares the same name (the other three counties are Texas County, Oklahoma; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; and Ohio County, West Virginia).


The county has substantial areas of forest, grassland, savanna, riparian area and other ecosystems. Forests include both coniferous- and oak-dominated woodland types. There are also numerous understory forbs and wildflowers including the yellow mariposa lily (Calochortus luteus).[10]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)99,755[4]1.0%
US Decennial Census[19]
1790–1960[20] 1900–1990[21]
1990–2000[22] 2010–2015[3]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Nevada County had a population of 98,764. The racial makeup of Nevada County was 90,233 (91.4%) White, 389 (0.4%) African American, 1,044 (1.1%) Native American, 1,187 (1.2%) Asian, 110 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 2,678 (2.7%) from other races, and 3,123 (3.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8,439 persons (8.5%).[23]


As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 92,033 people, 36,894 households, and 25,936 families residing in the county. The population density was 96 people per square mile (37/km2). There were 44,282 housing units at an average density of 46 per square mile (18/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.4% White, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 5.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.4% were of German, 16.3% English, 11.1% Irish, 6.8% Italian and 6.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.0% spoke English and 4.2% Spanish as their first language.

There were 36,894 households, out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.6% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.1% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,864, and the median income for a family was $52,697. Males had a median income of $40,742 versus $27,173 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,007. About 5.5% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.5% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.


Voter registration

Cities by population and voter registration


According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Nevada County has 78,736 registered voters. Of those, 24,677 (36%) are registered Democrats, 22,252 (32.3%) are registered Republicans, 9,426 (13.76%) are registered to another party and 7,845 (11.5%) have declined to state a political party.[26] In both 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush won a majority of the votes in the county. In 2008, Barack Obama carried the county with a 51.5%–46.2% margin. 2008 marked the first time Nevada County went for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In 2012, Obama lost by a narrow margin to Mitt Romney, turning the county red once again, only for Hillary Clinton to win it back in 2016 over Donald Trump. Joe Biden won the county in 2020, continuing its Democratic shift.

Presidential election results
Nevada County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2020 41.4% 26,779 56.2% 36,359 2.5% 1,612
2016 42.5% 23,365 47.4% 26,053 10.1% 5,517
2012 48.4% 24,986 47.7% 24,663 3.9% 2,027
2008 46.1% 25,663 51.4% 28,617 2.5% 1,367
2004 53.4% 28,790 44.9% 24,220 1.7% 910
2000 54.8% 25,998 37.2% 17,670 8.0% 3,811
1996 50.4% 21,784 35.6% 15,369 14.0% 6,066
1992 39.2% 17,343 34.9% 15,433 25.9% 11,425
1988 57.8% 21,383 40.5% 14,980 1.8% 660
1984 62.4% 19,809 35.3% 11,198 2.4% 761
1980 57.9% 15,207 29.0% 7,605 13.1% 3,449
1976 48.4% 8,170 47.0% 7,926 4.7% 785
1972 54.7% 8,004 38.9% 5,693 6.4% 941
1968 51.4% 6,061 39.1% 4,607 9.6% 1,126
1964 43.3% 4,899 56.5% 6,397 0.2% 22
1960 53.4% 5,419 45.7% 4,633 0.9% 89
1956 59.7% 5,475 40.0% 3,667 0.3% 31
1952 64.0% 6,819 35.1% 3,735 0.9% 94
1948 47.1% 3,917 47.0% 3,914 6.0% 495
1944 44.4% 2,648 54.8% 3,266 0.8% 47
1940 32.7% 2,863 66.0% 5,782 1.3% 114
1936 26.8% 1,913 71.9% 5,128 1.3% 90
1932 32.9% 1,842 63.3% 3,544 3.8% 210
1928 52.0% 2,173 46.9% 1,959 1.1% 47
1924 42.2% 1,513 8.6% 307 49.2% 1,763
1920 65.0% 2,055 23.6% 747 11.4% 361
1916 35.2% 1,586 56.6% 2,548 8.2% 369
1912 0.6% 23 46.1% 1,851 53.3% 2,140
1908 50.9% 1,825 38.1% 1,368 11.0% 395
1904 58.7% 2,249 30.5% 1,167 10.8% 414
1900 55.9% 2,449 40.1% 1,758 4.0% 173
1896 44.8% 1,985 53.2% 2,360 2.0% 90
1892 42.8% 1,757 39.8% 1,634 17.3% 710
1888 51.7% 2,167 45.9% 1,923 2.4% 102
1884 56.1% 2,368 42.5% 1,791 1.4% 60
1880 52.2% 2,241 47.3% 2,029 0.5% 22

Nevada County is split between California's 1st and 4th congressional districts, which are represented by Doug LaMalfa (RRichvale) and Tom McClintock (RElk Grove), respectively.[29]

In the state legislature, Nevada County is in the 1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Megan Dahle and in the State Senate, the county is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Brian Dahle.

On November 4, 2008, Nevada County voted for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages by 3 votes, the narrowest margin of any county in the state.[30]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates


Major highways

Public transportation

  • Gold Country Stage, operated by Nevada County, runs fixed route bus service in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Alta Sierra and Lake of the Pines. A connection is available between Grass Valley and Auburn (Placer County).
  • Tahoe Area Rapid Transit, operated by Placer County, has a route connecting Truckee with Lake Tahoe and the state of Nevada. Truckee also has its own local bus service.
  • Greyhound buses and Amtrak's California Zephyr stop in Truckee and Colfax.
  • YubaBus offers Charter and Shuttle Bus service in and around Western Nevada County.

Gold Country Lift is the paratransit bus company providing door to door service for seniors and persons with disabilities in Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Penn Valley.


Nevada County Air Park is a general aviation airport located just east of Grass Valley.

Truckee Tahoe Airport is a general aviation airport in Truckee, partially in Nevada County and partially in Placer County.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost town

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Nevada County.[34]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Truckee Town 16,180
2 Grass Valley City 12,860
3 Alta Sierra CDP 6,911
4 Lake Wildwood CDP 4,991
5 Lake of the Pines CDP 3,917
6 Nevada City City 3,068
7 Penn Valley CDP 1,621
8 Rough and Ready CDP 963
9 North San Juan CDP 269
10 Washington CDP 185
11 Kingvale (partially in Placer County) CDP 143
12 Soda Springs CDP 81
13 Floriston CDP 73
14 Graniteville CDP 11

Notable residents

  • Jennie Carter, 19th Century writer and journalist
  • Lyman Gilmore, a contemporary of the Wright Brothers who developed early powered aircraft and operated the world's first commercial air field in Grass Valley. There is also evidence he may have flown before the Wright brothers, though this claim is doubted.[35]
  • Alice Maud Hartley, killed Nevada Nevada State Senator Murray D. Foley by gunshot in 1894[36]
  • Founding member of the British rock band Supertramp, Roger Hodgson lives in Nevada County.
  • Herbert Hoover, President of the United States. Hoover lived in Nevada City as a young mining engineer after graduating from Stanford University.
  • Former Troubled Assets Relief Program head Neel Kashkari lives in the county as part of his "Washington detox."[37]
  • Charles Litton Sr., a resident and entrepreneur of Nevada County who assisted Raytheon in the development of the magnetron tube.
  • Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and founder of Citizens for Self-Governance
  • Gertrude Penhall (1846–1929), civic leader, clubwoman, early settler
  • Folk singer Utah Phillips lived in Nevada County until his death in 2008.
  • Former actor and television announcer Edwin W. Reimers resided in Nevada City at the time of his death in 1986.
  • Beat Poet Gary Snyder currently resides in San Juan Ridge in Nevada County.
  • Clint Walker, actor.
  • National Football League star Ricky Williams lives in the county.
  • Chuck Yeager, pilot and first man to break the sound barrier
  • John Christopher Stevens, American career diplomat and lawyer who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya from May 22, 2012, to September 11, 2012. Stevens was killed when the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked in 2012 by radical Islamic terrorists. He was born in Grass Valley and is buried in the local cemetery. A memorial to him was created in Grass Valley's downtown area.
  • Joanna Newsom, an American multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and actress. Born and raised in Northern California, Newsom was classically trained on the harp in her youth, and began her musical career as a keyboardist in the San Francisco-based indie band The Pleased.

See also


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. ^ "Nevada County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "Mount Lola". Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Nevada County History". US Gen Web Project in California. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  7. ^ California, California State Parks, State of. "Nevada". CA State Parks.
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  9. ^ Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Nevada. II. A N. E. county of California" . The American Cyclopædia.
  10. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Yellow Mariposa Lily: Calochortus luteus,, ed. N. Stromberg Archived 2011-10-04 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  12. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  14. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Data unavailable
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  21. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  23. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
  24. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 – Report of Registration Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  26. ^ CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019
  27. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".
  28. ^ "Our Campaigns - U.S. President". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  29. ^ "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009 Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  32. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  33. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  34. ^ CNMP, US Census Bureau. "This site has been redesigned and relocated. - U.S. Census Bureau".
  35. ^ Renda, Matthew (April 25, 2014). "Lyman Gilmore: an aviation pioneer that history almost forgot". The Union. Grass Valley, CA. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  36. ^ "Alice Maud Hartley," Online Nevada, undated
  37. ^ Blumenfeld, Laura (December 6, 2009). "The $700 billion man" – via
  • Harte, Bret (September 1902). "Nevada County's Development: The Great Niagara Mine As A Criterion Of The Future". Overland Monthly, and Out West Magazine. XL (3). Retrieved August 15, 2009.

Further reading

  • Bean, E. F. (1867). Bean's History and directory of Nevada county, California ... With sketches of the various towns and mining camps ... Also full statistics of mining and all other industrial resources. Nevada, Cal.: Printed at the Daily Gazette Book and Job Office.
  • Comstock, D. A. (1998). Catalog of historical landmarks and dedicated sites in Nevada County, California. NCHS books. Nevada City, Calif: Nevada County Historical Society.
  • Comstock, D. A. (2004). News and advertising in the early gold camps of Nevada County, California: Volume one – 1850 through 1852. Grass Valley, Calif: Comstock Bonanza Press.
  • Comstock, D. A., & Comstock, A. H. (1999). Nevada County vital statistics, 1850–1869 (and up to 1876 for divorces): births, marriages, separations, divorces, naturalizations, and deaths in Nevada County, California, as compiled from county records, cemeteries, newspapers, letters, diaries, and family records, plus a list of clergymen who served in Nevada County during those same years. Nevada County pioneers series, v. 1. Grass Valley, Calif: Comstock Bonanza Press.
  • Foley, D., Kelly, L., & Book, S. (1975). The Maidu Indians of Nevada County, California.
  • Nevada County (Calif.). (1915). Nevada County, state of California: the home of deep producing gold mines and prolific fruit orchards. Grass Valley, Calif: Union Pub. Co.
  • Nevada County Promotion Committee. (1904). Nevada County, California: the most prosperous mining county of the United States, where good mines are found in a country with a pereect [sic] climate and all the comforts of civilization. [Nevada City, Calif.]: Nevada County Promotion Committee.
  • Pastron, A. G., Walsh, M. R., & Clewlow, C. W. (1990). Archaeological and ethnohistoric investigations at CA-NEV-194, near Rough and Ready, Nevada County, California. Archives of California prehistory, no. 31. Salinas, CA: Coyote Press.
  • True, G. H. (1973). The ferns and seed plants of Nevada County, California. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences.
  • Wells, H. L. (1880). History of Nevada County, California with illustrations descriptive of its scenery, residences, public buildings, fine blocks, and manufactories. Oakland, CA: Thompson & West.
  • Wyckoff, R. M. (1962). Hydraulicking: a brief history of hydraulic mining in Nevada County, California. Nevada City, Calif: Osborn/Woods.

External links

  • Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  • visitor guide

Coordinates: 39°18′N 120°46′W / 39.30°N 120.77°W / 39.30; -120.77