Did you mean?Try your search again
On your walk around Nevada City, go one short block from Broad Street to the Main Street and Commerical Street Square. The square is easy to spot as the 15 ton water wheel sits prominently in the center. This is the famous Pelton Wheel, an impulse water turbine that was invented by Lester Pelton, who came to the Sacramento area from Ohio in the 1850's to be a fisherman but saw the gold rush fever and came to Nevada City to work the gold mines.
He came up with the idea of his water wheel by accident when he saw a water turbine misaligned and the water hit the end of the water cups instead of the center and the wheel spun faster. His design was to have a double cup that split so that the water went left and right to increase the speed of the turbine. Very impressive and practical. It towered over me as I stood next to it. The Pelton Wheel was first used by 1883 and created 18000 horsepower of electricity for over 60 years. Make sure you stop by to see a little history that helped develop the wild west.
Updated Feb 6, 2012
Address: Main & Commerical Streets Square
One of the many nice things about Nevada City is that you can see nearly all of the interesting buildings and sites in a relatively short walk. Unfortunately there are not wayfinding signs around town directing you to particular buildings.
So to help you get around here is a link from the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce that shows the walk and briefly explains the site. Print it out and take it with you. It was updated in the summer of 2011.
The walk will take you between an hour and two hours depending on whether you decide to visit any of the museums along the way. You will see a variety of historic buildings, a plaza, a park and get a better sense of what Nevada City might have been like 150 years ago.
Updated Dec 3, 2011
Located steps from the South Yuba Canal Office is a small vacant area named Robinson Plaza. The area was named after Beryl Robinson Jr. in 1999, who was the longest serving City Manager in California history. A plaque praises his accomplishments as a City Councilmen then later as City Manager in restoring Nevada City to its 19th century glory.
The plaza is remarkable in that it contains witbin shouting distance a total of eight California historical markers. These include the Pelton Water Wheel, the Five Stamp Mill, the site of the original Ott Assay office, the South Yuba Canal Building, Old Wells Fargo Building, Shaft Drill Core, Nevada City Queen of the Northern Mines, and Nevada Hose Company # 1, and the Robinson Plaza marker. Five of the historical markers are located in the plaza.
The plaza contains some nice benches and cast iron fencing. In the morning when I first arrived there was a young girl sitting with her dog playing her guitar in the secluded part of the plaza. Walking by at lunch I noticed several workers eating lunches there and enjoying the cool crisp winter day. Having worked in city government what I was struck by in walking around Robinson Plaza was the idea of how one man, in this case Beryl Robinson, who has given his whole life to making Nevada City a better place to live. It made me feel very good about the City and life for a few moments.
The plaza is home to the Nevada City Farmers Market during the summer and fall of the year. When I was last at the plaza there was a demonstration supporting students at the University of California.
Updated Dec 1, 2011
Address: Between Main and Union Streets
Walking up Spring Street one comes to a series of interesting buildings. First a very odern looking retail building, then a metal garage and finally an old foundry.
While the Nevada City Winery has roots that go back to 1880 the current winery is more recent. Founded in 1980 in a small garage on the outskirts of town, in 1982 the Winery moved to its present location, the historic Miners Foundry Garage, on Spring St in downtown Nevada City. Remarkably, the Winery is located less than two blocks from where the original Nevada City Winery stood over a century ago.
The inside of the Nevada City Winery is very inviting. There is a tasting room and an additional room for parties that overlooks Nevada City. The tasting room is open daily – 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Friday and Saturday – 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Tours are on Saturday at 1:30 p.m only.
According to the winery's web site the winery has been ,"recognized with numerous awards, including Best Zinfandel, Best Cabernet Franc, Best Syrah and Best Cabernet Sauvignon for the Sierra Foothill Region, awarded by the California State Fair."
Written Dec 1, 2011
Address: 321 Spring Street
Website: (530) 265-9463
Sitting at the end of Main Street overlooking State Highway 49 sits the two story South Yuba Canal Building. The building represents one of the oldest buildings in the City being constructed in 1855. Six years later in 1861 the building was the offices of the South Yuba Canal Company, which eventually became the state’s largest water system. This company went on to construct and maintain a series of water systems which supplied the hundreds of hydraulic mines in the area. The South Yuba Canal Company eventually became the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, P. G. & E., which today supplies gas and electric services to Northern California.
Written Dec 1, 2011
Address: 132 Main Street
This surprisingly tall modernistic courthouse jumps out at you as you walk up Commercial or Broad Street and look north.
A county courthouse has been located on this site since 1856. The first courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1863 and rebuilt a year later. The current courthouse represents construction and remodeling from 1900 and 1937. An annex to the courthouse was completed in 1964.
Written Dec 1, 2011
Address: 201 Church Street, Nevada City
The Pine Street Bridge represents the third span over Deer Creek built in the City. The current bridge built in 1996 replaced the old single arch bridge that was in existence from 1908-1996. Prior to that a suspension bridge built by Andrew Hallidie, who also built the San Francisco Cable Car System, hung over the creek from 1862-1903.
Walking the bridge above Deer Creek shouldn't be missed. There is a very narrow pedestrian lane on the west side of the bridge. On the south side of the bridge is a short pedestrian trail called Tranquility Trail.
Written Dec 1, 2011
Address: South Pine Street
Firehouse # 2 which constructed in 1860. It served as one of two fire companies in Nevada City for many years. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Today the engine bays of the building are still in use and contain the City's reserve fire engine. In October of 2011 some major repairs began on the firehouse including work on the roof and the belfry. The building is also still used by the Nevada City Firefighters Association who uses the building for fundraising efforts.
Written Dec 1, 2011
Address: Broad Street
Sitting just down the street from the Nevada County Courthouse stands the tiny Searls Historical Library Building.
The library was built in 1872 as the law office for attorney Niles Searles. Unlike some of the more flimsy wood buildings in the City at the time this structure was built with thick brooks and plaster to avoid being a casualty to frequent fires in the town.
The building was donated to the Nevada County Historical Society in 1974. Since then it has served as the archive for records of the society. It contains over 1,000 maps and 3,000 books on early California and the Gold Rush.
It is open to the public in the afternoons daily. When I went to see the inside of the building it is broken into two rooms. The first which contains several cases of books is made out to look like a law office. The back office is more of a research facility and contains room for residents interested in doing research on Nevada County or early California.
There is no charge to enter the library.
Written Nov 30, 2011
Address: 214 Church Street
Located just down the street from the Chamber of Commerce, Firehouse #1 painted bright white jumped out at me as I walked up the street.
The firehouse was constructed in 1861 at the first fire department in town and was in operation until 1938. Looking at the building close up and seeing how small the doors are it is easy to imagine horse driven wagons or carts racing to a scene on a fire.
In 1947 Firehouse # 1 was donated to the Nevada County Historical Society. Today the building houses a museum. Unfortunately the museum is only open on Saturdays between 1 and 3 pm during the winter of 2011-12.
Updated Nov 30, 2011
Address: 215 Main Street
Phone: (530) 265-5468