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Plumas County, California facts for kids

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Plumas County, California
County of Plumas
Western pacific railroad museum 2006.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Lake Almanor, Beckwourth Pass, Trains at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum
Official seal of Plumas County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country  United States
State  California
Region Sierra Nevada
Incorporated 1854
Named for Spanish words for the Feather River (Río de las Plumas)
County seat Quincy
Largest community East Quincy
 • Total 2,613 sq mi (6,770 km2)
 • Land 2,553 sq mi (6,610 km2)
 • Water 60 sq mi (200 km2)
 • Total 19,790
 • Density 7.574/sq mi (2.9242/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Standard Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)

Plumas County is a county in the Sierra Nevada of California, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 19,790. The county seat is Quincy, and the only incorporated city is Portola. The largest community in the county is East Quincy. The county was named for the Spanish Río de las Plumas (the Feather River), which flows through it.


Prior to the California Gold Rush of 1849, the Mountain Maidu were the primary inhabitants of the area now known as Plumas County. The Maidu lived in small settlements along the edges of valleys, subsisting on roots, acorns, grasses, seeds, and occasionally fish and big game. There was no official tribal leadership, and most groups remained in and around their own valleys. Areas with high snowfall, including Mohawk and Sierra Valleys, provided hunting grounds in the warmer months.

Life quickly changed for the Mountain Maidu, however, when gold was discovered in the Sierra foothills in 1848. Miners were attracted to Plumas County in particular largely due to the wild tales of a man named Thomas Stoddard, whose claims of stumbling onto a lake lined with gold nuggets while lost in the wilderness attracted gold hungry prospectors to the area. Though hopeful miners scoured the glacial lakes of what is now Lakes Basin Recreation Area for months, they could not find the alleged lake of gold. However, some of them did have success in the rivers and creeks in the area, which led to the development of many of Plumas County’s first non-Indian settlements.

Towns quickly sprung up around successful mining areas, including Rich Bar, Indian Bar, and Rabbit Creek (now La Porte). The Feather River, named by Spanish explorer Captain Luis Arguello as "Río de las Plumas" in 1820, was the site of many of these settlements.

Contributing to the wave of Euro-Americans entering the Plumas County area was African American frontiersman James Beckwourth’s discovery of the lowest pass through the Sierras, Beckwourth Pass, in 1850. Using the pass, he blazed a trail that began in Western Nevada and went through much of Plumas County, eventually terminating in the Sacramento Valley. He also set up a trading post in western Sierra Valley that still stands today. Though the Beckwourth Trail was longer than the original emigrant trail that ran south of Plumas County, its lower elevations kept it in heavy use until about 1865, when the railroads became the favored transportation method for westward-bound travelers.

Plumas County was formed in 1854 during a meeting of three commissioners held at the American Ranch in Quincy and was carved from the eastern portion of Butte County. Quincy, originally a mining town, was chosen as the county seat after a heated election against nearby Elizabethtown. A large portion Plumas County was taken to create Lassen County in 1864, and shortly afterward Plumas County annexed part of Sierra County, including the prosperous mining town of La Porte.

Over the next decades, different industries influenced the growth of the various settlements that sprung up around the county. Greenville began as a mining and farming community in Indian Valley in the late 1850s. Near the area that is now Lake Almanor, Chester was formed as a result of cattle ranching and the timber industry. When the Western Pacific Railroad was constructed in 1910, Portola sprung up as an important railroad stop. Thanks to the railroad, Plumas County could export its lumber beyond the local area, which allowed the timber industry to become the dominating force in the county’s economy. The railroad’s route up the Feather River Canyon also brought the area’s first tourists and sightseers. When the Feather River Highway was completed in 1937, Plumas County became linked to the Sacramento Valley year-round thanks to the route’s low elevation.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,613 square miles (6,770 km2), of which 2,553 square miles (6,610 km2) is land and 60 square miles (160 km2) (2.3%) is water.

Plumas County is located in the far northern end of the Sierra Nevada range. The area's rugged terrain marks the transition point between the northern Sierra Nevadas and the southern end of the Cascade Range. Lassen Peak, which is the southernmost volcanic peak in the Cascade Range, is found just north of Plumas County's border, and part of Lassen Volcanic National Park extends into the northwest corner of the county.

Plumas National Forest's 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km2) offer a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, hunting and fishing. The area features more than 100 natural and artificial lakes. Many of the natural lakes are glacial in origin and can be found in and around Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The artificial lakes include Lake Almanor, Lake Davis, Frenchman Lake, Little Grass Valley Reservoir, Antelope Lake, and Buck's Lake. Plumas County also features more than 1,000 miles of rivers and streams. All three forks of the Feather River run through the area.

Designated areas

Water areas

Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,363
1870 4,489 2.9%
1880 6,180 37.7%
1890 4,933 −20.2%
1900 4,657 −5.6%
1910 5,259 12.9%
1920 5,681 8.0%
1930 7,913 39.3%
1940 11,548 45.9%
1950 13,519 17.1%
1960 11,620 −14.0%
1970 11,707 0.7%
1980 17,340 48.1%
1990 19,739 13.8%
2000 20,824 5.5%
2010 20,007 −3.9%
2020 19,790 −1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

The 2010 United States Census reported that Plumas County had a population of 20,007. The racial makeup of Plumas County was 17,797 (89.0%) White, 192 (1.0%) African American, 539 (2.7%) Native American, 134 (0.7%) Asian, 18 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 603 (3.0%) from other races, and 724 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,605 persons (8.0%).


As of the census of 2000, there were 20,824 people, 9,000 households, and 6,047 families residing in the county. The population density was 8 people per square mile (3/km2). There were 13,386 housing units at an average density of 5 per square mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.8% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 2.6% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.8% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 5.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.1% were of German, 15.0% English, 10.1% Irish and 8.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.4% spoke English and 3.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 9,000 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.7% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 22.6% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 99.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.9 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,351, and the median income for a family was $46,119. Males had a median income of $38,742 versus $25,734 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,391. About 9.0% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.


  • The town of Portola is home to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, one of the largest railroad museums in North America. The WPRM is one of the major tourist draws in the county.
  • The town of Chester is home to the Collins Pine Museum, a museum completed in 2007 and dedicated to educating the public about the history of the Collins Pine Company's (a division of The Collins Companies) logging operations in the Chester region.


Major highways

  • California 36.svg State Route 36
  • California 49.svg State Route 49
  • California 70.svg State Route 70
  • California 89.svg State Route 89
  • California 284.svg State Route 284

Scenic byways

The Feather River National Scenic Byway follows the Middle and North Forks of the Feather River, traversing steep canyon walls and high mountain valleys. The route features grasslands, oak woodlands, mixed conifer, and high desert chaparral. It begins in the Sacramento Valley, following the Feather River Canyon and entering Plumas County just west of Storrie. As it gains elevation, it climbs over the crest of the Sierra and passes through Quincy and Portola, eventually reaching the Middle Fork of the Feather River and following it to its headwaters in Sierra Valley. After going through Beckwourth Pass, the route terminates at Hallelujah Junction on Highway 395.

The southernmost point of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Lake Almanor, is in Plumas County. The route spans 500 miles between California and Oregon and has views of dramatic volcanic landscapes, including nearby Lassen Peak.

The Scenic Byway Link is the section of Highway 89 that connects the Volcanic Legacy and Feather River Scenic Byways. Featuring the alpine meadows of Indian Valley, the rushing waters of Indian Creek, and the stunning views of Mt. Hough and the surrounding mountains, the route is about 18 miles long.

Public transit

Plumas Transit Systems, operated by the county, provides local service in Quincy and routes to Chester and Portola.


Gansner Field is a general aviation airport near Quincy. Rogers Field is near Chester; in addition to its civil-aviation role it also serves as the Chester Air Attack Base, a logistical and coordination facility for the California Department of Forestry's aerial firefighting (both fixed-wing and helicopter). Resources include fueling, retardant loading, communications, and some quartering for aircrew and ground firefighting teams. Nervino Airport is in Beckwourth, east of Portola.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 East Quincy CDP 2,489
2 Chester CDP 2,144
3 Portola City 2,104
4 Quincy CDP 1,728
5 Greenville CDP 1,129
6 Graeagle CDP 737
7 Delleker CDP 705
8 Hamilton Branch CDP 537
9 Meadow Valley CDP 464
10 Chilcoot-Vinton CDP 454
11 Beckwourth CDP 432
12 Lake Almanor Country Club CDP 419
13 Lake Almanor Peninsula CDP 356
14 Plumas Eureka CDP 339
15 Iron Horse CDP 297
16 Lake Almanor West CDP 270
17 Cromberg CDP 261
18 Greenhorn CDP 236
19 Crescent Mills CDP 196
20 Mabie CDP 161
21 Mohawk Vista CDP 159
22 East Shore CDP 156
23 C-Road CDP 150
24 Taylorsville CDP 140
25 Whitehawk CDP 113
26 Valley Ranch CDP 109
27 Twain CDP 82
28 Gold Mountain CDP 80
t-29 Clio CDP 66
t-29 Keddie CDP 66
30 Indian Falls CDP 54
31 Lake Davis CDP 45
32 Blairsden CDP 39
t-33 Greenville Rancheria (Maidu Indians) AIAN 33
t-33 Prattville CDP 33
34 Canyondam CDP 31
35 La Porte CDP 26
36 Belden CDP 22
37 Johnsville CDP 20
38 Spring Garden CDP 16
39 Paxton CDP 14
40 Tobin CDP 12
41 Bucks Lake CDP 10
42 Storrie CDP 4
t-43 Little Grass Valley CDP 2
t-43 Warner Valley CDP 2
t-44 Almanor former CDP 0
t-44 Caribou CDP 0


  • Feather River College

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Plumas para niños

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