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Nevada County

  • Nevada County Granite, Limestone, and Marble (historical times through circa 1906) (Excerpts from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, California, State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1906.)

    "Granite production in Nevada County forms only a local industry and is confined chiefly to quarrying and working the massive boulders at Nevada City, Grass Valley, Rough and Ready, and the heavier deposits at Graniteville. The character is somewhat marred by intrusions of syenite, known to stone cutters as 'black knot,' especially in regard to the value of the stone for monument purposes. The granite at Rough and Ready contains fewer of these intrusions than that of Nevada City and Grass Valley. The principal employment of the granite of these sections is in the cutting of posts, copings, stoops, and bases for monuments. The chief color is blue. The weight varies from 165 to 198 pounds to the cubic foot."

    "Formerly considerable lime was produced in Nevada County, but at present (circa 1904) the supply is chiefly from outside sources."

    "Marble, though at present not productive (circa 1904-1906), is a prospective industry in Nevada County. There are two distinct occurrences of marble in the county, which have been prospected in a small way."

  • Nevada, County, California, Mineral Resources & Introduction to the Nevada County Area of California (circa 1915) - Excerpt from Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties of California: An Illustrated Description of all the Counties Embraced in this Richly productive Geographical Subdivision of the Golden State, compiled and edited by Emmett Phillips and John H. Miller, Published under the direction of The Sacramento Valley Exposition, J. A. Filcher, Director-in Chief, January, 1915.

    Nevada County, by J. E. Taylor.

    "From a county formerly given over almost entirely to mining, lumbering and their allied industries, Nevada County has leaped within the last five years into prominence as a horticultural and agricultural county. Being of the foothills, its claims were at first considered rather presumptuous, but repeated successes at the California State Fair, apple carnivals and land shows have proved conclusively that it has the product to back up every claim made.

    "The county is the natural home of the Bartlett pear, that delicious food product which takes rank with the oranges, the peach and the cantaloupe as an universal shipper. Like the orange, the Bartlett has its favorite belts, comparatively small and restricted, outside of which it does not attain its fullest perfection. The proven Bartlett belt of Northern California includes a large portion of the area of Nevada County. It is grown there both with and without irrigation with practically equal success as to financial returns. Large areas adapted to its culture are still unreclaimed from their timbered state and may be had at a low first-cost price.

    "The county has a remarkable variety of climate and elevation, its length of 80 miles stretching from Sacramento valley, with an elevation of 500 feet to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with an elevation of 6000 feet, and on to the Nevada State line. Since the earliest settlements it has been a producer of the things which go to increase the sum of the world's wealth. Since 1848 its stream of virgin gold has never ceased to flow until it now aggregates over three hundred million dollars. Quartz mines discovered in the early fifties are still producing (circa 1915), an almost unheard of circumstance in gold mining. During the year 1913 the quartz mines of the Grass Valley and Nevada City districts yielded, according to records kept by the government, $2,918,733, thus placing the county in the lead of all California counties as a gold producer.

    "Since these mines are all large corporate concerns, involving vast capital, the small investor may conclude that they are of no concern to him. It should be remembered, however, that in order to produce the nearly three million dollars in gold the services of over 1500 men were constantly required, their wages aggregating in excess of $125,000 monthly. This army of men connected directly and indirectly with the mines, forms an insistent consuming population.

    "Aside from the big mines of the Grass Valley and Nevada City districts, there are scores of smaller mines now producing, or which have produced, and within the county there is still a fertile field for the prospector and the small mining investor. The Rough and Ready, Washington, Graniteville and the great San Juan Ridge section, famous for yields of gold in the old hydraulicing (sic) days, are open ranges for men skilled in the search for precious metals.

    "Passing into the 'upper country,' varied industries present themselves, the most notable being the power, water and lumbering enterprises. Three large power companies operate there and at one point, Lake Spaulding, one of the largest dams in America, has been constructed for the development of electric energy, which finds its market at points hundreds of miles distant. At Hobart Mills, in the extreme east end, large lumber mills are maintained, while at Floriston are found immense factories for the manufacture of paper from wood pulp. At Truckee, a town of 1700 population (circa 1915), the southern Pacific Railway carries on divisional activities. It is also the center of a large tourist section and abounds in excellent hunting and fishing.

    "Special mention has been made of the Bartlett pear, but from this it should not be inferred that the soil of Nevada County is not equally well adapted to the production of other fruits. The list includes about everything which grows on trees outside of tropical regions - apples, peaches, plums, cherries, prunes, quinces, walnuts, almonds, and of the vine, grapes in great variety. Of the small fruits, there is an equally long list.

    "But here is the wonder of Nevada County - the lower portion is well within the famous citrus fruit belt of Northern California. To harvest oranges and olives coincident with ice, is indeed, strange, but it takes place within this small civil division every year. The culture of oranges and olives, too, is not merely a garden fad. In the lower end of the county there are several fine groves of citrus fruits and the number are rapidly increasing. Oranges grown there are pronounced perfect by experts from Los Angeles. Orange and olive lands, unreclaimed, can still be purchased at prices extremely low.

    "The citrus fruit area of Nevada County has been estimated at 100,000 acres, a small region as compared with the deciduous area, which extends through the foothills well into the mountains. It is here that, perhaps, the greatest opportunities lie for the homeseeker. These lands are cheap, irrigation is optional and it is possible for an industrious family to live comfortably while an orchard tract is being reclaims from its timbered state and brought into bearing. Bearing orchards also are for sale at prices well within the reach of the ordinary investor.

    "In order to help the homeseeker and develop the resources of the county as rapidly as possibly, a cannery has been established at Grass Valley. During the season of 1914, this institution paid out about $12,000 for fruits and vegetables and $6,000 in wages. The cannery is owned by the farmers and businessmen of the county.

    "Two years ago a party of farm experts from the State University Farm selected land in this county for the establishment of a model farm, it being determined after wide search that conditions of soil, climate and altitude here were most nearly suited to the enterprise which they hoped to develop.

    "In social features, Nevada County compares favorably with other counties of the State - schools, churches, libraries, railway facilities, good roads, mail delivery and telephones.

    "Of the cities, Nevada City and Grass Valley, connected by electric railway, are the largest. Nevada City is the seat of government. Chambers of Commerce in each, together with the Nevada County development Committee, are engaged in the work of developing latent resources."

  • Nevada County, Mines and Mineral Resources (circa 1917-1918) - Excerpts from Mines and Mineral Resources of Nevada County, Chapters of State Mineralogist's Report Biennial Period 1917-1918, December, 1918, California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1919, pp. 1-6.)

    Introduction (to Nevada County)

    "Nevada County, the banner gold producing county of the state, is from 12 to 20 miles in width and eighty miles in length, stretching from the Sacramento Valley to the state line in Nevada on the east. It is bounded on the north by Yuba and Sierra counties, on the east by the State of Nevada, on the south by Placer County, on the west by Yuba County, and contains 974 square miles of approximately 623,360 acres. From the so-called 'thermal belt' of the rolling foothills at an elevation of 400 feet, there is a rapid but gradual rise in altitude until in the eastern end of the county, the snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada reach an elevation of 8000 to 9000 feet. This range in elevation gives wide variations of climate and diversified agricultural products. In the western portion of the county, in the 'thermal belt,' where semi-tropical orange and lemon groves thrive, snow and frost are a rarity. In the central section of the county, where the rainfall averages 45 inches and snow seldom occurs, walnuts, berries, apples and Bartlett pears thrive. In the eastern portion, where the rainfall averages 70 inches and the snowfall averages 10 to 20 feet, lumbering, stock raising and ice cutting are the principal industries (circa 1917-1918).

    Water Resources and Drainage (in Nevada County)

    "Nevada County is specially favored with a wonderful drainage and water storage system that has already been developed by a number of water, power and mining companies, giving ample and cheap hydroelectric power and also furnishing abundant water for irrigation purposes. Over 1000 miles of ditches carry water to all parts of the county and the main reservoirs of the county have a storage capacity of forty billion gallons. The water system of this county is capable of much greater development. Nevada County is capable of supplying the Sacramento Valley with immense quantities of water for irrigation, after this water has first been used for the development of electric power.

    "The northern part of the county is drained by the Middle Fork of Yuba River, which divides Nevada County from Yuba and Sierra counties on the north. The South Fork of the Yuba and Deer Creek, both flowing in a westerly direction, drain the central portion, while the southern part of the county, which is bounded by Bear River, is drained by that stream and its main tributaries, Wolf and Greenhorn creeks."

    The following stone-resource information is taken from the table on pages 2 and 3, entitled, “Nevada County - Table of Mineral Production, 1880-1918”:


    1897: 1,100 cubic feet, value $2,200
    1898: 2,000 cubic feet, value $1,500
    1899: 2,000 cubic feet, value $1,500
    1900: (no information given)
    1901: (no information given)
    1902: 1,000 cubic feet, value $3,000
    1903: 2,170 cubic feet, value $4,160
    1904: 2,335 cubic feet, value $5,395
    1905: 2,155 cubic feet, value $2,570
    1906: 9,525 cubic feet, value $9,300
    1907: 12,840 cubic feet, value $9,300
    1908: 700 cubic feet, value $2,100
    1909: 1,250 cubic feet, value $2,800
    1910: 2,225 cubic feet, value $3,215
    1911: 1,250 cubic feet, value $3,500
    1912 - 1915: (no information given)
    1916: 100 cubic feet, value $100
    1917: *Other Minerals: value $47,101
    1918: *Other Minerals: value $29,884
    Totals: 40,650 cubic feet, value $50,640

    * For the years 1917 and 1918, granite was not listed separately but was included in the "Other minerals" count.

    Relief (Nevada County)

    "The western portion of the county is characterized by rolling hills of irregular outline and elevation. The central part, especially in the vicinity of Grass Valley, at an elevation of 2500', is composed of irregular plateaux. The streams before mentioned divide the county into a number of ridges separated by deep V-shaped cañons 1000' to 2500' in depth with a general trend of from east and west to northeast and southwest. Except where the streams are crowded together, these ridges are broad and have a general slope to the southwest as has the rest of the range.

    "Nevada City (elevation 2500') is the county seat, and had a population of 2689 in 1910. Grass Valley (elevation 2400'), pre-eminently a mining town, had 4520 inhabitants according to the census of the same year.

    History and Production (in Nevada County)

    "The placer mines of Nevada County have been worked from 1849, while one of the earliest worked deposits of gold-bearing quartz in California was the Gold Hill mine, Grass Valley, which was discovered in the summer of 1850. From 1849, up to and including 1915, gold to an amount variously estimated at from $238,000,000 to $275,000,000 had been taken from the gravel, drift, hydraulic and quartz mines of this county. Since 1880 the gold production has totaled over $100,000,000, coming principally from the quartz mines of the county. The table* (on pages 2 and 3) gives the yield of all minerals in Nevada County, by years since 1880. (*Please note that this table is not included here. If you wish information from the table, feel free to contact me directly. Peggy B. Perazzo.)

    "Previous to 1883, in which year the hydraulic mines were restrained from dumping their tailings into the rivers and streams, the largest hydraulic mines in the world were operated in this county. As the result of a single cleanup, the Malakoff mine near North Bloomfield shipped one gold brick valued at $114,000.

    History (of Nevada County)

    "Following the discovery of gold, the main body of prospectors were soon on the Bear River, Wolf and Deer creeks and in the South and Middle forks of the Yuba River. By 1850 Nevada City and Grass Valley were populous mining camps. From 1849 onward the development of the alluvial placer and the subsequently discovered 'dead rivers' or Tertiary river channels was rapid.

    "The auriferous quartz veins, the original source of all the gold of the Sierra Nevada, were discovered and developed and mills were erected in 1850 and 1851 on the various lodes which have since become famous producing mines. The extreme richness of these discoveries stimulated a keen interest in quartz mining and in rapid succession the following mines were discovered and worked: Grass Valley, Gold Hill (1850), Massachusetts Hill (1850), Empire (1850), North Star (1851), New York Hill (1851), Granite Hill (1851), Eureka (1851), Osborne Hill (1851), Union Hill (1850).

    "In the Nevada City district, the Providence and Merrifield veins were discovered and opened in 1851.

    "As has been stated before, owing to the crude methods of mining and metallurgical treatment, many of these ventures proved failures, causing a resultant period of depression in the industry.

    "In the Grass Valley district, the exodus of miners and capitalists to the Comstock and the flooding of the mines in the winter of 1861-1862 further caused the lode mining industry to suffer. From 1862, however, a gradual improvement occurred, and in 1870 Nevada County was one of the most flourishing mining counties in the state, and from that time forward this county has maintained its place among the leading gold producing counties of the state, regardless of the many depressing causes with which the industry has had to contend.

    "During the numerous periods of depression suffered by the quartz mining business, the attention and energy of the goldseekers were directed to the development of drift and hydraulic mining. As has been previously stated, hydraulic mining had its inception at American Hill, Nevada County. Many of the great improvements in the equipment of the hydraulic mines originated in the mines of Nevada County. From 1863, when the hydraulic Giant was perfected, this method of mining became increasingly important, reaching its maximum output with the completion of the costly works of the mines of the San Juan-Bloomfield ridge in the late '70's and early '80's.

    "The North Bloomfield mine was washing a gravel deposit 400' in height, 600' in width, and had worked 5000' of this great channel when closed by injunction. From 1863 to 1880 a number of the companies operating in this county had invested from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 each in tunnels, reservoirs, ditches, flumes and other improvements. With the suppression of hydraulic mining, Nevada County, in which were the largest properties and producers in the state, was dealt the severest blow ever inflicted upon her mining industries, and a period of general depression ensued.

    "Some of the largest properties tried to continue operations under the permits and restrictions of the Debris Commission as provided by the Caminetti Act (1893), but this solution of the problem failed to secure the relief for the hydraulic mines that was anticipated. The mines that had reopened finally closed one by one until at the present time very few hydraulic mines are being operated in Nevada County (circa 1917-1918), and their output is negligible compared with the total gold production. If, as previously outlined, hydraulic mining can again be resumed, Nevada County will produce millions of dollars from this source, which, added to the steady annual production of the quartz mines, will keep this county for many years the banner gold-producing county of the state."

  • Nevada County Mineral Industry (circa 1919) - Excerpt from California Mineral Production for 1919, Bulletin No. 88, by Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, 1920, pp. 156.

    Area: 974 square miles.
    Population: 10,860 (1920 census)
    Location: North of Lake Tahoe, on the eastern border of the state.

    "Nevada, one of the mountain counties of California, has in recent years, alternated with Amador in the gold lead, but both were passed by Yuba in 1918-1919. Nevada County stands ninth on the list in regard to the value of its total mineral output, with a figure of $3,068,010, as compared with the 1918 production worth $3,301,651. The decrease is due mainly to gold and silver, its resources cover a wide scope, including antimony, asbestos, barytes, bismuth, chromite, clay, copper, gems, iron, lead, mineral paint, pyrite, soaptstone, and tungsten.

    "Commercial production for 1919 was as follows:

    (Headings for the information below are: Substance, Amount, and Value.)

    Gold, ---, $3,000,000*
    Silver, ---, $54,000
    Stone, miscellaneous, $1,976
    Other minerals, ---, $12,034 (estimated)
    (Total value) $3,068,010

    (* Includes asbestos, barytes, chromite, copper, granite, lead, and platinum.)

    Nevada County, 1916 Map, from California Mineral Production for 1919 (with County Maps), Bulletin No. 88, by Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco: California State Printing Office, 1920, pp. 186. Nevada County, 1916 Map
  • Nevada County Limestone Industry and Deposits (through 1947) - Excerpts from "Limestone in California," by Clarence A. Logan, California Journal of Mines and Geology, Vol. 43, No. 3, July 1947, California Division of Mines, San Francisco, California, pp. 175-357. Used with permission, California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey.)

    "Small quantities of lime were made in Nevada County in early days, but there has been no recorded production. The few limestone occurrences are probably Carboniferous."

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