2017-2018 Nevada County Gold Magazine 2017-2018_Nevada County Gold Magazine - Page 124

PIONEERS H I S T O R Y By in the Blink of an eye By Don Baumgart C AMPTONVILLE IS THE CLASSIC “blink and you’ll miss it” town that zooms past drivers heading from Nevada City to Downieville. Like both those towns, Camptonville’s history is buried in the Great California Gold Rush. It sits on a ridge between the middle and north forks of the Yuba River. At one time, the little town was a stage- coach stop with a population of 1,500 people. The 2010 Census showed residents had dropped to 158 people and more recent counts put that number of inhabi- tants at 172. At one time there were 50 saloons in town to help water down the thirsty gold miners at day’s end. Visitors didn’t find much in Camptonville in its working days. Writer William H. Brewer !+ $! # "" #$ #* )%# #" ' $ "" # # ( % !! * #* ' $ "" #! # $ !$ # $ # ! & described the 1863 community as “…a miserable, dilapidated town.” Today’s travelers will find places to eat, buy gas and groceries. A stroll around town can be a welcome tonic for city dwellers. What’s there today is typical of many wooden building Gold Rush towns that were swept by a succession of fires and then rebuilt. Camptonville suffered major fires in 1889, 1908, and 1959. The town’s most notable claim to fame is that the Pelton Wheel was invented there in the 1870s by Lester Pelton. That famous wheel was put to work, driven by the region’s abundant rushing water, to produce electrical current to light and freshen the search for gold as it went underground. For today’s passing traveler, a stop in this family friendly town offers a bit of quiet time for a stroll around town and perhaps along the path down to the river. More on Pelton Wheel See Page 129 PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA HISTORY ROOM, CALIFORNIA STATE LIBRARY, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. %!"" ! ( % ( % ##* & & # ##* ! %! # " $ %& "" # # $ #* % # ! $ # Serving Lunch and Dinner 11 am to 10 pm Located in the heart of downtown Camptonville in the Historic Mayo 15315 Cleveland Avenue, Camptonville, CA • (530) 288-3301 124 N E VA D A C O U N T Y G O L D