One of the oldest thoroughfares to the West was recognized in downtown Nevada City Wednesday morning as a nonprofit history organization marked the site of the Nevada City Road.
The Nevada City Road was a trail that branched off the Truckee Trail, which was located along the Bear River a short distance east of Nevada City.
After gold was discovered in Nevada City, immigrants and gold miners headed for Nevada City wanted a more direct route than the existing trail.
In 1850, a more direct trail later known as the Nevada City Road was opened from Bear Valley to Nevada City generally followed the same route as the later Highway 20 nearly to Nevada City.
On Wednesday, volunteers from Trails West, Inc. installed a trail marker where the route ended near Caldwell’s upper store on the north side of Deer Creek, located near the now Episcopal Church at Nevada and High streets.
Trails West, Inc. was founded in 1970 to research, identify, mark and aid in the preservation of trails used by thousands of pioneers and gold-seeker to reach California and southern Oregon during the mid-19th century.
The markers used are T-shaped and fabricated from 90-pound railroad rail, bearing an aluminum plate inscribed with the location, trail name and a descriptive quote from an emigrant diary of the 1840s to 1860s.
A Sept. 23, 1850 quotation from the diary of John Steele is engraved on the Nevada City Road marker and reads, “I passed through Nevada City, which was little else than a row of canvas covered houses on either side of the Emigrant road in the valley of Deer Creek. … Every nation, island and tribe seem to have its emigrant representative.”
Trails West has more than 500 markers along 2,000 miles of various routes of the California Trail, stretching from southern Idaho, across Nevada, into California and southern Oregon. Trails West’s other major project is publishing a series of two types of trail guides to aid enthusiasts in easily finding significant historical sites.
The Nevada City Road separated into an east branch and a west branch on Washington Ridge near the Pioneer Grave along with Highway 20.
This location is about seven miles northeast of Nevada City.
The east branch of the new trail continued southwest along the top of Harmony Ridge for about four miles, passing the later Six Mile House and Five Mile House, and then descended from Harmony Ridge toward the north end of Nevada Street.
It then followed this street downhill to the north side of Deer Creek where it turned west and headed toward Caldwell’s upper store. The west branch followed Washington Ridge, and several other ridges southwest toward the Blue Tent mining locality, and area named for a prominent trading post located near Rock Creek, and the later North Bloomfield Road.
The trail then followed this road route southwest into Nevada City.
On the way, the trail passed through the saddles on both the east and west sides of Sugarloaf Mountain, down East Broad Street, past the Indian Medicine Rock, and into the commercial center of Nevada City near Caldwell’s upper store on the north side of Deer Creek.