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Time lines

Bob Wyckoff

In Nevada County we find many place names descriptive of places, events and persons. Let’s take a look at five.

1. Independence Lake was named on July 4, 1853, by (a) Lola Montez, (b) John R. Ridge or (c) Ina Coolbrith.

2. By which of the following names was Graniteville previously known: (a) Eureka South, (b) Eureka Central or (c) Eureka North.

3. The Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is named to honor (a) a 19th century Russian composer, (b) a hero of the Crimean war or (c) a famous Russian tragedian.

4. McKnight Way in Grass Valley is named to honor (a) Sam McKnight, inventor of the Wilys-Knight automobile, (b) George McKnight or Knight, who discovered gold in place (gold in quartz) on Gold Hill or (c) Cyrus G. McKnight, who postulated what is now known as the McKnight Theory of Gold Refining.

5. True or False: Red Dog was named for a pack of nondescript canines which were observed running unattended near the rich hydraulic diggins near Chalk Bluff.


1. (a) She was on a camping trip with a group of her cronies when the naming occurred. Although according to a manuscript in the Bancroft Library Augustus Moore claims to have given the name on July 4, 1862, it is generally accepted that the naming honor rightfully belongs to Lola.

2. Eureka South, to distinguish it from Eureka in Humboldt County and Eureka North in Sierra County. Graniteville was the name given when the post office was established in August 1867.

3. (b) The name honored a hero of the Crimean War (1853-56), Jean Jacques Pelissier, who had been designated Duc de Malakoff by the French government for his heroism at the Battle of Sebastopol. There, he led troops that captured the Russian fort. To the French miners, the cliffs of the hydraulic diggins at North Bloomfield resembled the heights at Fort Malakoff.

4. (b) McKnight accidentally discovered gold in quartz or gold in place in October 1850. The location is called Gold Hill and is designated State Registered Landmark No. 297.

5. False. According to Erwin Gudde, who cites H. P. Davis, late Nevada County historian, Red Dog was named in the early 1850s by Charlie Wilson after his former home, Red Dog Hill, Ill.

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