PENN VALLEY, CA
Home of Lake Wildwood Community
Time Magazine has called Grass Valley “one of the top ten best small towns to live in.” Downtown Grass Valley is considered by many to be the one of the best preserved historic towns in the United States.
Grass Valley offers a wide variety of choices in real estate, from very rural to historic downtown. In the outlying areas, small farms thrive and closer in visitors find many neighborhoods with single family homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings. Grass Valley Real Estate starts under $100,000 and increases from there. Grass Valley has something for everyone.
GRASS VALLEY BUSINESS COMMUNITY
The Nevada County / Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce membership is over 1,000. In addition, the Grass Valley Downtown Association has created one of the most successful business districts in the Sierra Foothills.
Away from downtown are all the services and supplies the local populace needs for daily life. Lumber companies, hardware stores, feed supplies, supermarkets, printing companies – many of the businesses owned and operated by local residents.
The high tech community in this area supplies the world with cutting edge equipment and parts.
GRASS VALLEY SCHOOLS
Grass Valley Schools are among the top in California, reflecting the low student: teacher ratio and the high teaching standards. There are public high schools, intermediate schools, elementary schools and charter schools as well as two K-8 parochial schools.
GRASS VALLEY RECREATION
Neighborhood parks open to the public for swimming, tennis, baseball, soccer, and family picnicking dot the Grass Valley community. Eight miles northwest of Nevada City on Highway 49, the South Yuba River State Park includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world and offers swimming and hiking, wildflowers and historic sites. Docent-led history, nature and gold-panning tours are offered at selected times throughout the year.
Empire Mine State Park is the site of the oldest, richest gold mine in California. An estimated 5.8 million ounces of gold were extracted from the mine from the time of its discovery it is now the site of an extraordinary mining museum. The miles of trails are home to hikers, mountain bikers, and horse back riders.
Festivals and events are scheduled throughout the year and the downtown Center for the Arts presents local and international performers.
The Nevada County Fairgrounds is home to the annual County Fair as well as other special events and concerts such as the Draft Horse Classic, the Celtic Festival, and the World Music Festival.
GRASS VALLEY HISTORY
Grass Valley’s history is part of the colorful lore of the California Gold Rush. The first notations about the area are from the late 1840’s when a party of men searching for cattle came upon a “grassy valley”.
Grass Valley’s claim to historic fame is embedded in the vast amounts of gold discovered and extracted from its rich underground mines. In more than 100 years of mining, the mines of Grass Valley made it the richest of all California gold mining towns.
In December, 1848, President James K. Polk declared in a State of the Union address that large quantities of gold had been discovered in California. As word spread about the gold rush, prospectors flooded the foothills. The small settlement began looking like a village. Then in 1850, a settler by the name of George McKnight discovered gold in the quartz rock along Gold Hill and the real boom began.
By 1851, thousands of people were living in the bustling town now known as Grass Valley and in the nearby town of Nevada, (later renamed Nevada City when Nevada became a state). Grass Valley suffered a disastrous fire in 1855, and Nevada City burned in 1863, but the towns quickly rebuilt and continued to grow.
The Empire, Northstar, Pennsylvania, Idaho-Maryland and Brunswick mines became known around the world, attracting hardworking miners and would be millionaires. As the underground mines grew, skilled hard-rock miners from Cornwall and Ireland arrived. They settled into their new hometown of Grass Valley while mine owners and managers lived in nearby Nevada City. Over the next 100 years the mines extracted more than $400 million in gold, making Grass Valley California’s most prosperous mining town. Unfortunately, gold mining declined in the 1950’s and eventually all of the hard-rock mines were closed.
Both Grass Valley and Nevada City are on the national register of historic places and have multiple buildings on the national register. The National Hotel in Nevada City and the Holbrook in Grass Valley are reminders of the grandeur of California gold rush hotels. The Golden Gate Saloon in the Holbrook is known as the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi!