Nevada County, California

Coordinates: 39°18′N 120°46′W / 39.30°N 120.77°W / 39.30; -120.77
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nevada County
County of Nevada
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
"We're Better Together"[1]
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[2]
Named forNevada City, which is named after the Spanish word for "snow-covered"
County seatNevada City
Largest townTruckee
 • TypeCouncil–CEO
 • Chair[3]Susan Hoek
 • Vice Chair[4]Ed Scofield
 • Board of Supervisors[5]
  • Heidi Hall
  • Ed Scofield
  • Lisa Swarthout
  • Susan Hoek
  • Hardy Bullock
 • County executive officerAlison Lehman
 • Total974 sq mi (2,520 km2)
 • Land958 sq mi (2,480 km2)
 • Water16 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation9,152 ft (2,790 m)
 • Total102,241
 • Density100/sq mi (41/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code530
FIPS code06-057
GNIS feature ID1682927

Nevada County (/nɪˈvædə/ niv-AD) is a county located in the U.S. state of California, in the Sierra Nevada. As of the 2020 census, its population was 102,241.[7] The county seat is Nevada City.[8] Nevada County comprises the Truckee-Grass Valley micropolitan statistical area, which is also included in the Sacramento-Roseville combined statistical area, part of the Mother Lode Country.


Martis Creek Lake and Dam at the southern edge of eastern 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 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."[9] Charles Marsh was one of the first settlers in what became Nevada City, and is perhaps the one who named the town. He went on to build extensive water flumes/ditches/canals in the area, and was influential in the building of the first transcontinental railroad and the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad.[10]

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.[11] 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 hydroelectric 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 uses video/broadcasting equipment designed and manufactured by Grass Valley Group, founded in Grass Valley.

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad, built in 1876, was the only railroad in the West that was never robbed, 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 State Historic 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.

In 1988, the 49er Fire was accidentally started near Highway 49 by a homeless local man who was suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia. The fire went on to burn well over 100 homes and more than 33,000 acres in Nevada County.[12]

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.

Boundary dispute with Sierra County[edit]

Since the enactment of the statute in which the California State Legislature defined the common boundary between Nevada and Sierra Counties in 1874, no survey was conducted to determine where the straight line segment of the common boundary between the two counties ran. In particular, the statute, at the time codified as Section 3921 of the California Political Code, at the time stated:

...thence south on said state line (state of Nevada) to the northeast corner of Nevada County, a point east of the source of the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River; thence west to the source of, and down the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River to a point ten miles above the mouth of the latter.

Since the line had never been surveyed and the legislature never defined where the "point east of the source of the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River" was, the location of the straight air line between the state line and this point was unknown. As such, both counties claimed that the point east of the source, which itself was also unknown, was located in different places. This created a situation where a strip of land averaging 1.22 miles in width and around 31.29 square miles were under dispute, with Sierra County claiming that Nevada County was encroaching on their jurisdiction when attempting to levy property taxes. The trial court, that of Plumas County, sided with Sierra County, declaring that the disputed area had always belonged to Sierra County since the legislature defined the boundary in dispute by referencing Public Land Survey System lines. It also determined that the source of South Fork of the Middle Yuba River was that of several springs in the Sierra Nevada, contrary to the artificial English Lake, which ceased to exist after the failure of its dam in 1883, which is where the source of said waterway was in the eyes of Nevada County. The California Supreme Court affirmed the trial courts decision on December 28, 1908.[13]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 974 square miles (2,520 km2), of 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.6%) are covered by water.[14] The county is drained by Middle and South Yuba Rivers.[15]

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.

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. Also, numerous understory forbs and wildflowers occur, including the yellow mariposa lily (Calochortus luteus).[16]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]


Historical population
2023 (est.)102,037[17]−0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
1790–1960[19] 1900–1990[20]
1990–2000[21] 2010[22] 2020[23]

2020 census[edit]

Nevada County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[22] Pop 2020[23] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 85,477 82,810 86.55% 80.99%
Black or African American alone (NH) 341 416 0.35% 0.41%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 793 695 0.80% 0.68%
Asian alone (NH) 1,124 1,371 1.14% 1.34%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 96 119 0.10% 0.12%
Some other race alone (NH) 122 617 0.12% 0.60%
Mixed/multiracial (NH) 2,372 5,797 2.40% 5.67%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 8,439 10,416 8.54% 10.19%
Total 98,764 102,241 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Places by population, race, and income[edit]

2010 Census[edit]

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. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 8,439 persons (8.5%).[32]


As of the census[33] of 2000, 92,033 people, 36,894 households, and 25,936 families resided in the county. The population density was 96/sq mi (37/km2). The 44,282 housing units had an average density of 46 per square mile (18/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.4% White, 0.3% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 2.0% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. About 5.7% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. Regarding ancestry,16.4% were German, 16.3% English, 11.1% Irish, 6.8% Italian, and 6.6% American, according to Census 2000; 94.0% spoke English and 4.2% Spanish as their first language.

Of the 36,894 households, 28.7% had children under 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 not families. About 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.47, and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the age distribution was 23.1% under 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 or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,864, and 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[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


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.[35] 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 with the largest share of votes for a presidential candidate in recent elections, continuing its Democratic shift.

United States presidential election results for Nevada County, California[36][37]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 26,779 41.07% 36,359 55.76% 2,064 3.17%
2016 23,365 42.53% 26,053 47.43% 5,517 10.04%
2012 24,986 48.35% 24,663 47.73% 2,027 3.92%
2008 25,663 46.12% 28,617 51.43% 1,367 2.46%
2004 28,790 53.39% 24,220 44.92% 910 1.69%
2000 25,998 54.76% 17,670 37.22% 3,811 8.03%
1996 21,784 50.40% 15,369 35.56% 6,066 14.04%
1992 17,343 39.24% 15,433 34.92% 11,425 25.85%
1988 21,383 57.76% 14,980 40.46% 660 1.78%
1984 19,809 62.36% 11,198 35.25% 761 2.40%
1980 15,207 57.91% 7,605 28.96% 3,449 13.13%
1976 8,170 48.40% 7,926 46.95% 785 4.65%
1972 8,004 54.68% 5,693 38.89% 941 6.43%
1968 6,061 51.39% 4,607 39.06% 1,126 9.55%
1964 4,899 43.29% 6,397 56.52% 22 0.19%
1960 5,419 53.44% 4,633 45.69% 89 0.88%
1956 5,475 59.69% 3,667 39.98% 31 0.34%
1952 6,819 64.04% 3,735 35.08% 94 0.88%
1948 3,917 47.05% 3,914 47.01% 495 5.95%
1944 2,648 44.42% 3,266 54.79% 47 0.79%
1940 2,863 32.69% 5,782 66.01% 114 1.30%
1936 1,913 26.83% 5,128 71.91% 90 1.26%
1932 1,842 32.92% 3,544 63.33% 210 3.75%
1928 2,173 52.00% 1,959 46.88% 47 1.12%
1924 1,513 42.23% 307 8.57% 1,763 49.20%
1920 2,055 64.97% 747 23.62% 361 11.41%
1916 1,586 35.22% 2,548 56.58% 369 8.19%
1912 23 0.57% 1,851 46.11% 2,140 53.31%
1908 1,825 50.86% 1,368 38.13% 395 11.01%
1904 2,249 58.72% 1,167 30.47% 414 10.81%
1900 2,449 55.91% 1,758 40.14% 173 3.95%
1896 1,985 44.76% 2,360 53.21% 90 2.03%
1892 1,757 42.84% 1,634 39.84% 710 17.31%
1888 2,167 51.69% 1,923 45.87% 102 2.43%
1884 2,368 56.13% 1,791 42.45% 60 1.42%
1880 2,241 52.21% 2,029 47.27% 22 0.51%

Nevada County is located in California's 3rd congressional district represented by Kevin Kiley (RRocklin)

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 three votes, the narrowest margin of any county in the state.[38]


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[edit]


Major highways[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

  • 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.

Alta Sierra Airport is a private-aviation airport located south of Grass Valley.




Census-designated places[edit]

Other unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost town[edit]

Population ranking[edit]

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Nevada County.[42]

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[edit]

  • 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.[43]
  • Alice Maud Hartley, killed Nevada State Senator Murray D. Foley by gunshot in 1894[44]
  • 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."[45]
  • 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[edit]


  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. ^ "District IV News; Nevada County, CA".
  2. ^ "Nevada County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "Supervisor District 4 | Nevada County, CA".
  4. ^ "Supervisor District 2 | Nevada County, CA".
  5. ^ "Board of Supervisors | Nevada County, CA".
  6. ^ "Mount Lola". Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "Nevada County, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  9. ^ "Nevada County History". US Gen Web Project in California. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  10. ^ Comstock, David Allan. "Charles Marsh: Our Neglected Pioneer-Genius," Nevada County Historical Society Bulletin, pp. 9, 10, 14-16, Volume 50, No. 2, April 1996.
  11. ^ California, California State Parks, State of. "Nevada". CA State Parks.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Kellar, Liz (September 11, 2018). "Nevada County's 49er Fire proved a harbinger of fire seasons to come". The Union. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  13. ^ County of Sierra v. County of Nevada, 155 Cal. 1, 12 (California Supreme Court December 28, 1908).
  14. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  15. ^ Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Nevada. II. A N. E. county of California" . The American Cyclopædia.
  16. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Yellow Mariposa Lily: Calochortus luteus,, ed. N. Stromberg Archived October 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing from 1790-2000". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  19. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  20. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  21. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Nevada County, California". United States Census Bureau.
  23. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Nevada County, California". United States Census Bureau.
  24. ^ 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 October 26, 2013.
  25. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  26. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  27. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  28. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  29. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  30. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g Data unavailable
  32. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
  33. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  34. ^ 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 October 31, 2013.
  35. ^ CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019
  36. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".
  37. ^ "Our Campaigns - U.S. President". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  38. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  39. ^ 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 December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  40. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  41. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  42. ^ CNMP, US Census Bureau. "This site has been redesigned and relocated. - U.S. Census Bureau".
  43. ^ Renda, Matthew (April 25, 2014). "Lyman Gilmore: an aviation pioneer that history almost forgot". The Union. Grass Valley, CA. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  44. ^ ""Alice Maud Hartley," Online Nevada, undated".
  45. ^ Blumenfeld, Laura (December 6, 2009). "The $700 billion man" – via

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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