Throughout this Travel Guide we have traveled one county at a time. When we get to Nevada and Placer Counties, both the Current Route and one of the Alternate Routes cross between counties several times, so we have combines these two counties in the provided maps for easy use.
Nevada County History:
Nevada County was created in 1851 from portions of Yuba County. This area came to life with the Gold Rush of 1849. Nevada County had the first long distance telephone line in the world built in 1877. In 1850, the Community of Rough and Ready seceded from the Union and became the great republic of Rough and Ready for a short time. In the mountain peaks near Truckee is where the ill-fated Donner Party wintered in 1846-47. Between 1863 and 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was built, some of the most difficult parts were in Nevada county.
Today Nevada County is known for the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, historic towns and Donner Lake. Nevada City is the county seat.
Placer County History:
Placer County was created in 1851 from portions of Sutter and Yuba counties. Many people cane to the area for the Gold Rush of 1849. Gold mining remained a major industry through the 1880’s.
Today Placer County is known for the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, skiing, historic towns and Lake Tahoe.
Auburn is the county seat.
Rough and Ready Information:
The town of Rough and Ready was founded in 1849 by the Rough and Ready Mining Company. It was described as a hidden hamlet among green meadows with riches that could not be hidden from fortune seeking miners.
In 1850, Colonel E. F. Brundage came up with the idea of a separate republic and issued a manifesto to organize the State of Rough and Ready. In April of 1850, Rough and Ready became the only mining town to officially secede from the USA. The Republic of Rough and Ready did not last long, as soon the residence realized that they could no longer celebrate the 4th of July as they we no longer part of the USA. Residence soon voted to rejoin the USA.
Lincoln Highway (US Highway 40) Information:
The Lincoln Highway was one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles across the United States of America. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913. Most of the construction was finished in the late 1920’s and the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.
In 1915, the "Colorado Loop" was removed, and in 1928, realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. The first officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles. Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles.
The Lincoln Highway was gradually replaced with numbered designations after the establishment of the U.S. Numbered Highway System in 1926, with most of the route becoming part of U.S. Route 30 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, and US Routes 40 and 50 in the west. After the Interstate Highway System was formed in the 1950s, the former alignments of the Lincoln Highway were largely superseded by Interstate 80 as the primary coast-to-coast route from the New York City area to San Francisco.
West of Fallon NV, the Lincoln Highway split into 2 different routes to San Francisco. The southern route roughly followed what is now US Route 50 through Carson City, NV, Sacramento, CA and on to San Francisco.
The northern route from Fallon, mostly followed what is now Interest 80 and US Route 40 through Reno, NV, Sacramento, CA, Oakland, CA and San Francisco. Alternate Route #2 of the Ukiah-Tahoe Highway follows about 20 miles of the northern route.
Donner Party Information:
On April 14, 1846, the Donner Party started by wagon train from Independence, Missouri, heading to California. By early November, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Truckee and became trapped by an early and heavy snowfall at the east end on what is now Donner Lake.
Food supplies were running low by mid December, and some of the group went looking for help. It wasn’t until mid February 1847 that help arrived and only 47 of the original 87 members were still alive, many of them having eaten the dead for survival.
Today, Donner Memorial State Park marks the site of the camp.
Nevada/Placer Counties - The Drive:
You will enter Nevada County just past Smartville on CA 20. Soon you will get to Penn Valley where Alternate Route #1 starts and the beginning of Side Trip #1. From there you can that Alternate Route through Rough & ready or follow the Current Route to Grass Valley and Nevada City. Alternate Route #1 ends in Nevada City. Continue on CA 20 until you come to Interstate 80 and follow it east. For the remainder of the trip, you will cross between Nevada and Placer Counties several times. At Cisco Grove (Exit 165), Alternate Route #2 starts. This will take you on a piece of the original Lincoln Highway (US 40) and over the original Donner Summit that was used before Interstate 80 was built in the 1960’s. Whichever route you take, follow it to Truckee, then south on CA 89 to Tahoe City and the end of the Ukiah-Tahoe Highway.
Nevada/Placer Counties – Things To Do & Places to Stay:
• Visit Rough and Ready
• Visit historic Grass Valley
• Visit Historic Nevada City
• Donner Summit/Rainbow Bridge
• Lodging, camping, swimming, fishing and relaxing at Donner Lake
• Donner Memorial State Park
• Visit the Historic Area of Truckee
• Lodging, camping, swimming, fishing and relaxing at Lake Tahoe