A couple months back Frankie and I decided it was time for a weekender and headed up towards Malakoff Diggins near Nevada City. Got there rather late and found a "no fires" ordinance was in place in the campground, a major bummer since it was dark and freezing. Figured we'd check the cabins back in the historic townsite just for the hell of it and lucky for us one of them was vacant. It even had a wood-burning stove to keep us toasty. Woke up to the jangling bells of a herd of cows on the move.
Went to explore the diggins where monitors like these used water to blast away the hillsides.
Frankie really wanted to see a bear, but this was as close as we got.
Hydraulic mining allowed miners to sift through vast quantities of sediment for gold very quickly, but it ravaged the hills, clogged streams with silt and destroyed neighboring farmland. Towns downstream were flooded when the river beds became higher than the shores and eventually hydraulic mining in Malakoff Diggins was stopped by judicial decree in 1884.
Now it looks like a big valley.
Hiller Tunnel was used to divert the run-off from the diggins. Its 556-feet long and you can walk through with a flashlight if its not flooded.
Lots of weird sediment in the pools.
Franklin likes to get arty with the lantern.
Since it had started to rain, we drove over to the Salvation Army in Grass Valley and picked up a 26-piece set of vintage dishes for under six dollars. Also found a locket with a date inscription from 1895 and randomly ran into our friend Elias who was also up from SF for the weekend, he being a native Nevada City-an.
He recommended staying at The National Hotel for the night and we're so glad we did. It's absolutely charming in the best of slightly rundown old timey ways. Plenty of brocade sofas and plant-filled sitting areas to sit and play cards while drinking whiskey tea, and not a bank breaker either. We even got a velvet headboard. Met Elias at the nice dark bar downstairs then ran across the street to the Mine Shaft for more libations. After getting suitably warmed up, he led us on a tour of the old pioneer cemeteries.
That's some serious motivation.
We read somewhere that the average age of death in the old west was 33.
A walk through the neighborhoods led to some late night snacking.
Good morning, still life.
Found this commemoration out back of the hotel. Nevada City, we think you're great.
Still interested? Nevada City is only about an hour and a half from San Francisco via the 80 east to the 49 north. To get to Malakoff Diggins continue north on the 49 for another 11 miles and get off at Tyler Foote Rd, which will take you to the park. The road changes names a few times (Cruzon Grade Road, Back Bone Road, Derbec Road, North Bloomfield Road) but just keep going and you'll wind up in the middle of the little ghost town.