One of the Sierra Foothill’s most popular gold rush towns, Grass Valley, California is an 1800’s Gold Rush town that offers a window into the past while providing the best the present has to offer. Surrounded by a picturesque mix of oak, cedar, and ponderosa pines, Grass Valley features a close-knit community, vibrant economy, beautiful surroundings, and rich history that make it a popular California mountain destination.
Located approximately 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, Grass Valley was once honored by Time Magazine as one of the best small towns to live in, with its downtown considered by many to be one of the best-preserved historic towns in the United States. With a current population nearing 14,000, Grass Valley enjoys vibrant tourism mixed with local commerce and agriculture. The soil in Nevada County is considered to be quite fertile, and while local produce and organic agricultural is popular, the area is quickly becoming known for its growing wine industry.
Grass Valley History
Grass Valley dates from the California Gold rush, and is the location of the Empire Mine and North Star Mine, two of the richest gold mines in California. Many of those who came to settle in Grass Valley were tin miners from Cornwall, England. They were attracted to the California gold fields because the same skills needed for tin mining were needed for gold mining.
Grass Valley also has a strong connection to Cornish culture and ancestry, since many people from Cornwall in South-West England emigrated here in the 18th and 19th centuries. Grass Valley still holds on to its Cornish heritage, with events such as its annual Cornish Christmas celebration.
The early pioneers, settlers and prospectors who crossed the plains of the central United States would travel over the Rocky Mountains, through the Nevada deserts, and then over the Sierra Nevada Mountains via the Donner Pass. They often rested for a few days at Greenhorn Creek, near the present location of nearby Nevada City. Their cattle would frequently stray and would later be found several miles from their encampment, grazing on lush, sweet, green grass. This area was dubbed “the grassy valley,” prompting some to guess this as the origin of Grass Valley’s name.
Grass Valley Attractions
Residents and visitors to Grass Valley will find plenty of attractions and activities to keep them entertained, including:
- Farmer’s markets / Street Fairs on Fridays in August and September
- Music in the Mountains
- Cornish Christmas
- The North Star Mining Museum
- Empire Mine State Historic Park
On the National Historic Registry, the Empire Mine State Historic Park offers 850 acres of scenic trails for hiking, biking, dog walking and horseback riding as well as a museum and preserved items from life at one of the oldest, largest and most prosperous gold mines in North American history.
Living in Grass Valley, California
One of the best things about Grass Valley, of course, is the great variety of log homes in the area. The community is filled with beautiful log homes, friendly people, and a wide variety of activities for either adventure-seekers or those looking for a peaceful, scenic getaway.
California has a lot of great communities filled with every shape, style and size of log homes. We’re lucky to work with homeowners throughout the state who trust us for restoring, repairing and building the log homes and structures they love. From great lodges in the north to cozy weekend getaways in the south, we get to see it all. In addition to this article about Grass Valley, we’ve also shared insights into other log home-friendly communities including Kirkwood, Sonora, Bear Valley, Mammoth, Pine Mountain Club & Frazier Park, Truckee, Lake Tahoe, and Santa Cruz.
We hope this inspires you to visit this beautiful mountain community. If you decide to purchase a log home in the Grass Valley area, or already own one and would like an appraisal, tips for maintenance, or general advice for keeping your home in good condition, please call our California log home construction and restoration experts at 877-477-6564, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.