Sierra City, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sierra City
census-designated place
Sierra City, California, October 11, 2009 Main St.jpg
Sierra City is located in California
Sierra City
Sierra City
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 39°34′24″N 120°38′13″W / 39.57333°N 120.63694°W / 39.57333; -120.63694Coordinates: 39°34′24″N 120°38′13″W / 39.57333°N 120.63694°W / 39.57333; -120.63694
Country  United States
State  California
County Sierra
 • Total 2.151 sq mi (5.571 km2)
 • Land 2.151 sq mi (5.570 km2)
 • Water 0.000 sq mi (0.001 km2)  0.01%
Elevation[2] 5,407 ft (1,648 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 221
 • Density 100/sq mi (40/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
GNIS feature ID 2583139
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Sierra City, California

Sierra City is a census-designated place in Sierra County, California, United States.[2] The elevation of Sierra City is 5,407 feet (1,648 m),[2] and the town is situated in the canyon of the North Yuba River on California State Route 49, twelve miles northeast of the county seat of Sierra County, Downieville. The population was 221 at the 2010 census.


Before the California Gold Rush, only Native Americans had ventured into the area, which lies northwest of Lake Tahoe on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, and which lay between areas inhabited by Maidu, Nisenan, and Washo peoples (Pre-Contact Tribal Map). The area is now part of the Tahoe National Forest.

A settlement was established in 1850 by Philo A. Haven and Joseph Zumwalt, who were also involved with the settling of Downieville (Sinnott). In the Winter of 1852-53, however, an avalanche of snow destroyed the settlement, which was not rebuilt for several years. Ferdinand, Gustav, and Christian Reis purchased several mining claims near the Sierra Buttes and began to resettle Sierra City, which had a peak population of 3,000 during the decade after gold was discovered in California (1849).

Numerous hard-rock gold mines were developed on both sides of the North Yuba River Canyon near Sierra City. These include the Colombo Mine, the Kentucky Mine, the Keystone Mine, the Monumental Mine, the Sierra Buttes Mine, and the William Tell Mine. A nugget weighing over 1,500 troy ounces was found in the Monumental Mine in 1960, and in 1869, a nugget weighing over 1,800 troy ounces was found there (see external link 2). Placer mining was also practiced and continues today on the banks of the North Yuba. On February 10, 1963, Alec M. Ostrom of Sierra City discovered a nugget weighing 8 troy ounces while placer mining (Sinnott.)

Historic buildings[edit]

Historic buildings that remain in Sierra City include the two-story brick Busch Building, which the Wells Fargo Company occupied in the 19th century, and the Masonic Lodge, both of which sit on the town's main street, which is Highway 49. The town hall, a log structure, was built after World War II, and a new post office, dedicated in 1969, features stone work in which antique mining implements, including an ore-car, are embedded. The Bigelow House, a Victorian structure, is situated near the town's southwestern limits. The cemetery contains gravestones dating back to the 1860s.

Recent times[edit]

Today the town-limits signs list Sierra City's population as 225. The main industry is tourism. None of the nearby hard-rock mines are in operation, but the Kentucky mine just outside the town limits, now houses a mining museum. In the summer months, fishing in the North Yuba and its tributaries and in nearby alpine lakes is popular, as is mountain-biking, placer-mining, and hiking. A cluster of sheer rock peaks known as the Sierra Buttes (Latitude: 39.59351, Longitude: -120.64105), 7,818 feet high, is just 1.6 miles from Sierra City and towers over the town. Many trails cross the area, and the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the flanks of the Sierra Buttes some 2,000 feet above the town. Wild Plum Campground is a little more than a mile away on Haypress Creek.

The nearest public school is 12 miles away in Downieville.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 2.2 square miles (5.6 km²), 99.99% of it land and 0.01% of it water.

Climate data for Sierra City, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 46.8
Average low °F (°C) 28.0
Precipitation inches (mm) 11.81
Snowfall inches (cm) 29.2
Source: WRCC (temperature normals 1910–2000),[3]


The 2010 United States Census[4] reported that Sierra City had a population of 221. The population density was 102.8 people per square mile (39.7/km²). The racial makeup of Sierra City was 200 (90.5%) White, 0 (0.0%) African American, 2 (0.9%) Native American, 3 (1.4%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 12 (5.4%) from other races, and 4 (1.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21 persons (9.5%).

The Census reported that 221 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 113 households, out of which 14 (12.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 54 (47.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 8 (7.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 7 (6.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 12 (10.6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 0 (0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 34 households (30.1%) were made up of individuals and 15 (13.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.96. There were 69 families (61.1% of all households); the average family size was 2.35.

The population was spread out with 16 people (7.2%) under the age of 18, 14 people (6.3%) aged 18 to 24, 30 people (13.6%) aged 25 to 44, 104 people (47.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 57 people (25.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 56.6 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.0 males.

There were 280 housing units at an average density of 130.2 per square mile (50.3/km²), of which 87 (77.0%) were owner-occupied, and 26 (23.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 21.2%. 170 people (76.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 51 people (23.1%) lived in rental housing units.


In the state legislature, Sierra City is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Ted Gaines,[5] and the 1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Brian Dahle.[6]

Federally, Sierra City is in California's 1st congressional district, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa.[7]


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Sierra City, California
  3. ^ "Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary". Western Regional Climate Center. November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  4. ^ All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.
  5. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ "California's 1st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 


  • California-Indian Pre-Contact Tribal Areas Map, [1]
  • Kelly, Leslie A. Traveling California's Gold Rush Country. Falcon, 1997.
  • Sinnott, James J. History of Sierra City and History of Goodyear's Bar [one volume], 1978.
  • Sinnott, James J. History of Sierra County, 1977.

External links[edit]