The Middle Yuba River forms the south-western border of Sierra County. This remote stretch of river winds through several box canyons and is rich in mining history. The Pliocene Ridge Road off Highway 49 near Camptonville takes you up to the ridge above this river, where the towns of Pike, Alleghany and Forest are nestled in the forest along the Pliocene Ridge.
Alleghany developed into a town from the consolidation of several mining locations of the early 1850s. There were hydraulic mining operations here as well as drift tunnels that cut into the mountain’s ancient river beds. The still-working Original Sixteen to One gold mine is located in Alleghany.
Forest City was established in 1852 and within two years had a population of over 1,000. The exceedingly rich and easily accessible claims continued to pay until the 1860s when much of the gold was worked out of the gravel deposits. Like most early settlements, fires ravaged the town during its early years, but there are still many historic buildings and sites to see.
The Maidu and Washoe Indians are the first known residents of the Sierra Nevada. Their permanent homes were in the foothills where the snow wasn’t too deep during the winter. But, in the spring they moved up high into the Sierra to gather roots and berries, hunt and fish throughout the summer. As the Europeans began exploring the area and discovered gold, emigration from around the world brought a new cultural era to the region. Mining camps and towns sprang up in Sierra County with each gold discovery. Many of these towns have since disappeared and been reclaimed by the forest, but some still exist today. On the Pliocene Ridge, Alleghany, and Forest City remain as windows to our past.
Cultural AttractionsUnderground Gold Miners Museum
offers historical walking tours of Alleghany including a look inside the historical church and old school gymnasium. The museum is open during its annual gold show in June and by appointment. Visit undergroundgold.com
for more information.
Original Sixteen to One Mine
Gold, specimen, and jewelry sales are offered by appointment only, weekdays — 530-287-3540.
The tiny town of Forest City
is its own museum. Most buildings date from the 1800s. Old buildings are being renovated. To arrange a tour of the museum, call 530-287-3413. There is a self-guided walking tour brochure available that detail the town’s history and sites. Pick up your copy at the mail box in front of the Forest City Dance Hall.
On the Trail
Hiking, biking and backpacking: Most of the country around the towns in this area is quite rugged and undeveloped with few groomed trails. But the historic Henness Pass Road provides for both 4-wheel driving, biking and hiking for the adventurous.
The Lafayette Ridge OHV Trail near Alleghany leads adventurers through heavy brush that gradually opens up to a panoramic view of the Middle Yuba River. Many of the off-road vehicle trails in the area were once the trails of miners, traders, and mule teams. You can drive Henness Pass Road from Camptonville to Verdi. It links the southern part of the county together from east to west and has historical sites along the way. The Forest Service has a map of the area titled From Gold to Silver—The Comstock Connection, a Historic Driving tour of the Henness Pass Road. 4-wheel drive, a detailed map, compass and dedicated map reader is strongly recommended.
Rivers and streams provide exceptional fishing and swimming. The Lafayette Ridge OHV Trail ends near Kanaka Creek and the Middle Yuba River where stream fishing is at its best.