immigrants first came through, the meadows provided fodder for the
horses, oxen and cattle. The name Grassy Valley seemed
Later, in 1849, a group of
immigrants from Boston settled by the side of Wolf Creek. They
built a store and cabins and named their settlement Boston Ravine.
The main route through the area ran between Nevada City and Rough
& Ready. The area that is now downtown Grass Valley was about
halfway between the two settlements, so in 1850, it came to be
known as Centreville.
The Postal Service opened
it's first office under that name. Ultimately the three
settlements became one town and adopted the name Grass Valley.
Most gold was sifted from
river gravel along the creeks in the area, but when gold was
discovered in quartz deposits, hard rock mining was introduced.
A man named Night was
chasing his cow, or so the story goes, and stubbed his toe on an
outcropping. Or maybe his name was McNight, and maybe he didn't
really stub his toe. Maybe the cow was named McNight... well
that's going a bit far, but you see how western stories go.
In fact, it still seemed
easier to pan gold than to free it from rock, at least until
October of 1850, when an exceptionally rich deposit was found by
George Roberts. Roberts later sold his claim to the company that
would become the Empire Mine which pumped out gold in huge
quantities until World War II.