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Destination:
Nevada City/Grass Valley,
California

Truckee and Rough & Ready

Photo ofTruckee near Nevada City and Grass Valley, in the Gold Country of Northern California

Photo above: Truckee by Photographer Jeff Dow

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Truckee and Rough & Ready

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Back to Introduction
Truckee Rough & Ready

In 1844, a group of immigrants encountered a helpful Paiute (pronounced pie-oot) Indian. He kept repeating the word Tro-kay, and the immigrants assumed he was repeating his name.

He guided them through a pass along a river that led into the Sierra ... they named that river after him, the Truckee. What he was saying, it turned out, was "everything is all right" because he was concerned they might think he was hostile.

The area became infamous as the site where the tragic Donner Party tried to winter.

The area wasn't settled until it became a route for the new railroad going over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In 1863, Joseph Gray built a home for his family that came to be called Gray's Station. Later a man named Coburn built several additional buildings to supply the railroad workers and the miners crossing the Sierra to the mines in Nevada.

Soon a town formed around the newly named Coburn's Station. In 1868, a fire burned Coburn's station to the ground, but a new town quickly sprung up nearby called Truckee.

Truckee has been primarily a railroad town until recently. When Interstate 80 went through, it became known as "the place to turn South to get to Lake Tahoe". To some, it is where chain controls stop traffic over Donner Pass. To others, it is the "fruit inspection station."

Only very recently has Truckee come into its own as a town with a character and style, rather than just an intersection on the way to somewhere else. This mountain town offers western hospitality, great fishing, unique shops and country restaurants.

This little town was founded by miners led by Captain A.A. Townsend who served under "Old Rough and Ready" Zachary Taylor. Early mining operations were very successful, so when the government imposed a Mining Tax, the town seceded from the Union on April 7, 1850, and an independent state was organized.

The new republic lasted until the Fourth of July celebration when Old Glory went up the flag pole, and that was that. Secession Day, complete with a Chili Cook-Off, is celebrated in Rough and Ready the last Sunday in June. Visitors will find several old buildings still standing that date from the 1850's including the W.H. Fippin Blacksmith Shop.

Penn Valley

This town was settled due to its location on a freight wagon route between Sacramento, the Mother Lode and silver mines in Nevada. Rural in nature, older farm buildings co-exist with modern homes, and there is a growing business community. Popular activities include the annual Penn Valley Fireman's Association Rodeo held the last weekend in April, and there are a number of activities at the 80-acre Western Gateway Park

Washington

Situated just north of Scenic Hwy. 20, Washington was settled in 1849, and became a bustling town with hotels, restaurants and supplies for several thousand miners. They found gold in the South Yuba River, and Poorman's Creek, whose claims were considered poor if they did not pay an ounce per day per man.
Today, it is a quiet town with historic buildings, and numerous nearby recreational activities, such as camping and gold panning. On Hwy. 20 near the Washington turn off are two recommended sites- a scenic overlook, and the Alpha-Omega Rest Area which provides history and view of nearby hydraulic gold mines.

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