Nevada County, California

Nevada County is a county in the Sierra Nevada of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 98,764. The county seat is Nevada City.

Nevada County comprises the Truckee-Grass Valley, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Sacramento-Roseville, CA Combined Statistical Area. It is in the Mother Lode Country.


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."

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 1861. 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.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 mi away. 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 sqmi}}, of which {{convert is land and (1.6%) is water. The county is drained by Middle and South Yuba rivers.

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).

Adjacent counties

  • Sierra County - north
  • Washoe County, Nevada - east
  • Placer County - south
  • Yuba County - west

    National protected areas

  • Tahoe National Forest (part)
  • Toiyabe National Forest (part)



    Places by population, race, and income


    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%).


    As of the census 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. 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.Nevada County is split between California's 1st and 4th congressional districts, which are represented by and , respectively.

    In the state legislature, Nevada County is in and in the State Senate, the county is in .

    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.


    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

  • 20px Interstate 80
  • 20px State Route 20
  • 20px State Route 49
  • 20px State Route 89
  • 25px State Route 174

    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 and Amtrak 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.



  • Grass Valley
  • Nevada City (county seat)


  • Truckee Rough and Ready

    Census-designated places

  • Alta Sierra
  • Floriston
  • Graniteville
  • Kingvale
  • Lake of the Pines
  • Lake Wildwood
  • North San Juan
  • Penn Valley
  • Rough and Ready
  • Soda Springs
  • Washington

    Other unincorporated communities

  • Anthony House – Nisenan Indian territory
  • Birchville
  • Blue Tent
  • Boca
  • Boreal
  • Cedar Ridge
  • Cherokee Township
  • Chicago Park
  • French Corral
  • Lake City
  • Malakoff Diggings
  • Moores Flat
  • Nevada City Rancheria – Nisenan Indian government settlement area
  • Norden
  • North Bloomfield
  • North Columbia
  • Ophir Hill
  • Peardale
  • Ready Springs
  • Sunset District
  • Sweetland
  • You Bet

    Ghost town

  • Meadow Lake (previously: Excelsior; Summit City)

    Population ranking

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

    county seat

    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.
  • Alice Maud Hartley, killed Nevada Nevada State Senator Murray D. Foley by gunshot in 1894
  • 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."
  • 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
  • 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, was an 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 by radical Islamic terrorists on September 11–12, 2012. 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.