Nevada City set to celebrate 163 years | TheUnion.com

Nevada City set to celebrate 163 years

Jesse Locks
Special to The Union

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Nevada City Celebrates 163rd Birthday

WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Nevada City Hall, Council Chambers, 317 Broad Street, Nevada City

TICKETS: Free to the public

Open House Schedule:

April 17-18 (meeting place Nevada City, City Hall)

10-11 a.m. Fire House

11 a.m. - noon DPW Corp Yard

1-2 p.m. Water Treatment

2-3 p.m. Wastewater

On Friday, Nevada City will celebrate its 163rd birthday and to commemorate the occasion, city council members will host a party at City Hall.

The evening will include John Christensen of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Rail Road Museum, who will present a multi-media talk about the current restoration project on Engine No. 5 and other facts about Nevada County’s “Never Come, Never Go” railroad, the kick off of the Miners Foundry 160th Anniversary, an opportunity to participate in sharing your story with the Nevada City Oral History Project and, of course, birthday cake.

On April 17 and 18, the city will host an open house of various public works projects, facilities and buildings, such as the historic Firehouse No. 2, Department of Public Works yard, water treatment and wastewater plants. This tour gives residents a unique look at where and how their tax dollars are being used, while also learning the history of how each were created and built.

The area now known as Nevada City was originally named Oustomah, and for thousands of years was the site of a flourishing Nisenan village. In 1848 after placer gold was discovered in nearby Wolf Creek and later in Deer Creek, the area grew to over 10,000 people, becoming the third largest city in California, behind Sacramento and San Francisco.

The area went through several name changes including Deer Creek Dry Diggins and Caldwell’s Upper Store, before Nevada (Spanish for “snow-covered,” a reference to the snow-topped mountains in the area) was settled upon. The town of Nevada was incorporated on April 19, 1856. In 1864, the word “City” was added to the name to relieve confusion with the nearby state of Nevada, and the town has legally been known as “Nevada City” ever since. 

The town has had its share of firsts and famous people in California History. Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover lived and worked here as a gold miner in his younger days. Three former U.S. senators, George Hearst, A. A. Sargent and William Morris Stewart, lived in Nevada City.

Sargent’s wife, Ellen Clark Sargent, was a leading voting rights advocate, and a friend of such suffrage leaders as Susan B. Anthony, who the couple hosted in Nevada City. Sarah Clark Kidder was president of Northern California’s Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad from 1901 to 1913. She was the first female railroad president in the world, taking on the position upon the death of her husband, John Flint Kidder, who is credited with building the railroad.

The consolidation of water companies that formed the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. occurred here and PG&E’s first general office was located in the National Hotel. The area boasts several inventions in the fields of mining, water and electricity, including the Pelton Wheel.

It was in May 1853, that Professor Henry Durant, formerly of Yale University, met with a committee in Nevada City to formulate plans for an academy that was incorporated two years later as the College of California. It would later become the University of California, Berkeley.

In recent years, the Nevada City lifestyle has attracted a number of well-known writers, artists and musicians. The area also draws high-tech business entrepreneurs who are able to locate their enterprises away from the stresses of big city life.

In 2017, Nevada City, in conjunction with Grass Valley, was selected to serve as one of California’s 14 inaugural state-designated cultural districts celebrating the area’s heritage along with the people, places, traditions and events that contribute to the quality of life here.

While many California gold rush towns have disappeared into the pages of California history, Nevada City has rebounded time and again to emerge as a unique blend of yesterday and today.


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