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Nevada County, California facts for kids

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Nevada County, California
County of Nevada
Nevada City California 2011.jpg
Donner Lake from McClashan Point.jpg
Bridgeport Covered Bridge2.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Downtown Nevada City, Donner Lake, a scene in Rough and Ready, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge
Official seal of Nevada County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Region Sierra Nevada
Metropolitan area Greater Sacramento
Incorporated April 25, 1851
Named for Nevada City, which is named after the Spanish word for "snow-covered"
County seat Nevada City
Largest city Truckee (population and area)
 • Body Board of Supervisors
 • Total 974 sq mi (2,520 km2)
 • Land 958 sq mi (2,480 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation
9,152 ft (2,790 m)
 • Total 102,241
 • Density 104.97/sq mi (40.529/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-057
GNIS feature ID 1682927

Nevada County is a county in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 102,241. 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, part of the Mother Lode Country.


Martis Creek Lake and Dam summer
Martis Creek Lake and Dam at the southern end of Nevada County near Truckee. At full pool the lake extends into Placer County in the distance to the south.
Martis Creek Lake and Dam winter
Martis Creek Lake and Dam in Nevada County. This picture was actually taken over Placer County, looking north into Nevada County.

Created in 1851, from portions of Yuba County, Nevada County was named after the mining town of Nevada City, a name derived from the term "Sierra Nevada." 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.

Gold nugget of about 6 troy ounces, from the Yuba River placers of Nevada County. Size: 8.3 x 2.8 x 2.3 cm.

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 miles (93 km) 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.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 974 square miles (2,520 km2), of which 958 square miles (2,480 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (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).

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 16,446
1870 19,134 16.3%
1880 20,823 8.8%
1890 17,369 −16.6%
1900 17,789 2.4%
1910 14,955 −15.9%
1920 10,850 −27.4%
1930 10,596 −2.3%
1940 19,283 82.0%
1950 19,888 3.1%
1960 20,911 5.1%
1970 26,346 26.0%
1980 51,645 96.0%
1990 78,510 52.0%
2000 92,033 17.2%
2010 98,764 7.3%
2020 102,241 3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010 2020

2020 census

Nevada County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 85,477 82,810 86.55% 80.99%
Black or African American alone (NH) 341 416 0.35% 0.41%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 793 695 0.80% 0.68%
Asian alone (NH) 1,124 1,371 1.14% 1.34%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 96 119 0.10% 0.12%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 122 617 0.12% 0.60%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 2,372 5,797 2.40% 5.67%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 8,439 10,416 8.54% 10.19%
Total 98,764 102,241 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Places by population, race, and income

2010 Census

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.


Major highways

  • I-80 (CA).svg Interstate 80
  • California 20.svg State Route 20
  • California 49.svg State Route 49
  • California 89.svg State Route 89
  • California 174.svg 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 buses and Amtrak's California Zephyr stop in Truckee and Colfax.

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.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost town

Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Truckee Town 16,180
2 Grass Valley City 12,860
3 Alta Sierra CDP 6,911
4 Lake Wildwood CDP 4,991
5 Lake of the Pines CDP 3,917
6 Nevada City City 3,068
7 Penn Valley CDP 1,621
8 Rough and Ready CDP 963
9 North San Juan CDP 269
10 Washington CDP 185
11 Kingvale (partially in Placer County) CDP 143
12 Soda Springs CDP 81
13 Floriston CDP 73
14 Graniteville CDP 11

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 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
  • Gertrude Penhall (1846–1929), civic leader, clubwoman, early settler
  • 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, 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 in 2012 by radical Islamic terrorists. 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.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Nevada (California) para niños

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