Rough and Ready, California

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Rough and Ready
A scene in Rough and Ready near the Historic Toll House
A scene in Rough and Ready near the Historic Toll House
Rough and Ready is located in California
Rough and Ready
Rough and Ready
Location within the state of California
Rough and Ready is located in the United States
Rough and Ready
Rough and Ready
Rough and Ready (the United States)
Coordinates: 39°13′49″N 121°8′6″W / 39.23028°N 121.13500°W / 39.23028; -121.13500Coordinates: 39°13′49″N 121°8′6″W / 39.23028°N 121.13500°W / 39.23028; -121.13500
CountryUnited States
 • Total3.170 sq mi (8.210 km2)
 • Land3.170 sq mi (8.210 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
 • Total963
 • Density300/sq mi (120/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)530
GNIS feature ID2628785
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rough and Ready, California
Official nameLittle Town of Rough and Ready
Reference no.294
Great Republic of Rough and Ready

Rough and Ready Republic
Flag of Rough and Ready
StatusUnrecognized state
CapitalRough and Ready
Common languagesEnglish
• 1850-1851
Captain A. A. Townsend
• Secession
April 7 1850
• Rejoined the Union
July 4 1850
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United States
United States

Rough and Ready is a census-designated place in Nevada County, California, United States.[2] It is located west of Grass Valley, California, approximately 62 miles (100 km) from Sacramento. The population was 963 at the 2010 census. It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.[3]


The first established settlement in Rough and Ready was made in the fall of 1849 by a mining company from Wisconsin, known as the Rough and Ready Company, during the California Gold Rush.[4] Their leader, Captain A. A. Townsend, named the company after General Zachary Taylor (nicknamed "Old Rough and Ready") who had recently been elected the 12th President of the United States. Captain Townsend had served under Taylor when he commanded the American Forces during the Black Hawk War (1832). California had three towns so named of which this one survives.[5]

The town declared its secession from the Union as "the Great Republic of Rough and Ready" on 7 April 1850, largely to avoid mining taxes, but voted to rejoin the Union less than three months later on 4 July.[6] The old republic is celebrated annually as a way to attract tourism.

The post office at Rough and Ready was established by February 1851; the first postmaster was Marcus Nutting.[7] The ZIP Code is 95975. The community is inside area code 530.

The post office was closed for a time in 1855, again for a time in 1913, and again from 1942 to 1948.[8]

Present day[edit]

What little is left of the town is located on the Rough and Ready Highway. It was bypassed by State Route 20 in the mid-1980s. Among the oldest buildings are the blacksmith shop (1850s), the Odd Fellows Hall (1854), and the Old Toll House.

The town of Rough and Ready is honored as a California Historical Landmark (#294).[9]

Popular culture[edit]

The New York City-based music duo The Great Republic of Rough and Ready takes its name from the town.[10]

The syndicated western television series, Death Valley Days, told the story of Rough and Ready in two different episodes. In the 1957 episode "Rough and Ready," the town secedes from the Union solely to expel a miner the townsmen accuse of sharp dealing. Rough and Ready returns to the United States the following 4 July. In this version, A.A. Townsend is played by Fred Coby and E. F. Brundage is played by Harry Fleer.[11] In the 1965 episode "Birthright," President Zachary Taylor levied a tax on California mines in California. Opponents declared "taxation without representation" and led by a prominent businessman named Brundage (R. G. Armstrong), decide to secede from the United States. Jason Evers was cast as Dan Hardy, who guides the community back into the federal Union.[12]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 3.2 square miles (8.2 km²), all of it land.


The 2010 United States Census[13] reported that Rough and Ready had a population of 963. The population density was 303.8 people per square mile (117.3/km²). The racial makeup of Rough and Ready was 886 (92.0%) White, 3 (0.3%) African American, 6 (0.6%) Native American, 16 (1.7%) Asian, 6 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 11 (1.1%) from other races, and 35 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 56 persons (5.8%).

The Census reported that 963 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 428 households, out of which 95 (22.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 203 (47.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 31 (7.2%) had a female householder with no husband present, 28 (6.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 33 (7.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 2 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 132 households (30.8%) were made up of individuals and 50 (11.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25. There were 262 families (61.2% of all households); the average family size was 2.77.

There were 160 people (16.6%) under the age of 18, 60 people (6.2%) aged 18 to 24, 184 people (19.1%) aged 25 to 44, 385 people (40.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 174 people (18.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 108.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.8 males.

There were 477 housing units at an average density of 150.5 per square mile (58.1/km²), of which 332 (77.6%) were owner-occupied, and 96 (22.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 10.2%. 755 people (78.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 208 people (21.6%) lived in rental housing units.


In the state legislature, Rough and Ready is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Brian Dahle,[14] and the 1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Megan Dahle.[15]

Federally, Rough and Ready is in California's 1st congressional district, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Census". Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rough and Ready, California
  3. ^ "13 Town Names We Can't Stop Laughing Over". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  4. ^ Gallant, Frank K. (May 17, 2012). A Place Called Peculiar: Stories About Unusual American Place-Names. Courier Dover Publications. p. 30. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  5. ^ Gudde, Erwin G. (1998). California place names : the origin and etymology of current geographical names (4th ed., rev. and enl. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 322. ISBN 0520213165.
  6. ^ "The Great Republic of Rough and Ready, by Arthur Winfield Knight [secession, California, CA]". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  7. ^ Salley, Harold E. (1991) History of California Post Offices, 1849–1990, p. 183. The Depot, ISBN 0-943645-27-1
  8. ^ Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 548. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  9. ^ "Rough and Ready". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  10. ^ "The Great Republic of Rough and Ready performs tonight". The Union.
  11. ^ "Rough and Ready on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 7, 1957. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "Birthright on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. May 6, 1965. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Rough and Ready CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  14. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  15. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  16. ^ "California's 1st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 2, 2013.

External links[edit]