The Gold-Mining City of Grass Valley
Grass Valley is one of the most prominent former gold-mining towns in the entire state of California. Situated in Nevada County, an area rich in Gold-Rush and gold-mining history, it is arguably second only to its immediate neighbour, Nevada City, in terms of gold-mining importance, and certainly ranks in the top few towns along with Nevada City, Sonora, Auburn and Placerville. Initially playing second fiddle to Nevada City, for a few years the number one gold-mining city in the state and 2nd or 3rd largest city in the state, Grass Valley eventually surpassed its neighbour as the premier source of gold.
The city's early and long-lasting importance has left its mark in the large downtown and old neighbourhoods full of historic commercial and residential buildings.
As with most of the old mining towns, much of the old character has survived because it became a backwater later, with development passing it by through much of the 20th century. It like Nevada City, it also was spared the worst devastation from freeway development that has horribly scarred both Auburn and Placerville. While a freeway goes through the town, Hwy 49 is not the major artery that I-80 and Hwy 50 are and it was built further out from downtown instead of plowing right through the old heart.