Nevada County residents take great pride in their colorful history, so it’s no surprise that the region is punctuated with museums of every ilk. Housed in a vintage orphanage, the Grass Valley Museum’s collection depicts the Gold Rush days through 1930. Also in Grass Valley, the Northstar Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum focuses on mining history, while in Nevada City, the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum focuses on railroad history.

Nevada City is home to the circa 1861 Historic Firehouse No. 1 Museum, which features horse-drawn fire wagons, handcarts and “modern” motorized engines through 1938, as well as Native American, Chinese and Donner Party relics. Historical researchers will enjoy spending time at Nevada City’s circa 1872 Searls Historical Library with its treasure trove of historical photos, maps and books.

To learn about the emigrant experience and the Donner Party, look no further than Truckee’s Emigrant Trail Museum at Donner Memorial State Park. In Truckee’s historic downtown, the Old Jail Museum is one of the few remaining 19th century jailhouses and currently houses interesting artifacts from this town’s fabled past.

If you enjoy exploring Nevada County and learning about its history, check out Exploring Nevada County, a guide to the over 200 historical landmarks in the County. Published by the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission, it is available in electronic format from Amazon and iBooks, and in paperback from Comstock Bonanza Press.

Donner Memorial State Park & Emigrant Trail Museum

Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada, Donner Memorial State…

12593 Donner Pass Road,
Truckee, CA 96161

Empire Mine State Historic Park

COVID-19 UPDATE Visitor Center In an effort to protect…

10791 East Empire St,
Grass Valley, CA 95945

Firehouse No. 1 Museum

Firehouse No. 1 is perhaps the most-photographed building in…

214 Main St,
Nevada City, CA 95959

Grass Valley Museum

The Grass Valley Museum was an orphange in Gold Rush times, established…

410 South Church St,
Grass Valley, CA 95945

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

COVID-19 UPDATE: Visitor's Center In an effort to protect…

23579 North Bloomfield Road
Nevada City, CA 95959

Miners Foundry Cultural Center

The foundry dates to 1856 and for many years provided metal and…

325 Spring St,
Nevada City, CA 95959

Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Located in Nevada City, California, the Nevada County Narrow…

5 Kidder Ct,
Nevada City, CA 95959

Northstar Mining Museum

Operated by the Nevada County Historical Society, this museum…

933 Allison Ranch Road,
Grass Valley, CA 95945

Old Truckee Jail Museum

Truckee’s historic jail is one of only a few surviving 19th…

10142 Jibboom Street,
Truckee, CA 96160

Searls Historical Library

The Searls Historical Library serves as the archive for the Nevada…

161 Nevada City Highway,
Nevada City, CA 95959

Truckee Railroad Museum

Truckee Railroad Museum is located next to the historic railroad…

10075 Donner Pass Rd.,
Truckee CA, 96161