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
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
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.
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
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