Sierra County, California

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Sierra County, California
County of Sierra
Downieville, California, at Main and Commercial St., looking south.jpg
Conifer forest edit.jpg
Stampede Dam.jpeg
Images, from top down, left to right: Downieville, Conifer forest in the Tahoe National Forest, Stampede Dam
Seal of Sierra County, California.png
Sierra County, California
Interactive map of Sierra County
Map of California highlighting Sierra County.svg
Location in the state of California
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
State Flag of California.svg  California
Region Sierra Nevada
Incorporated April 16, 1852
Named for Sierra Nevada
County seat Downieville
Largest city Loyalton
Government
  Type Council–Manager
  ChairPaul Roen
  Vice ChairSharon Dryden
  Board of Supervisors
Supervisors [1]
  • Lee Adams
  • Peter W. Hubener
  • Paul Roen
  • Terry LeBlanc
  • Sharon Dryden
Area
  Total962 sq mi (2,490 km2)
  Land953 sq mi (2,470 km2)
  Water9 sq mi (20 km2)
Highest elevation
8,844 ft (2,696 m)
Population
  Total3,236
  Density3.4/sq mi (1.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Standard Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code 530
Congressional district 3rd
Website www.sierracounty.ca.gov OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Sierra County ( /siˈɛrə/ ) is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 3,236, [3] making it California's second-least populous county. [2] The county seat is Downieville; [4] the sole incorporated city is Loyalton. The county is in the Sierra Nevada, northeast of Sacramento on the border with Nevada.

Contents

History

Sierra County was formed from parts of Yuba County in 1852. The county derives its name from the Sierra Nevada.

Prior to the California Gold Rush, the area was home to both the Maidu and the Washoe peoples. They generally summered in the higher elevations to hunt and fish, and returned to lower elevations for the winter months. [5] After the discovery of gold in the Sierra foothills sparked the California Gold Rush, more than 16,000 miners settled in Sierra County between 1848 and 1860. Most mining settlements in the county sprung up along the North and Middle Forks of the Yuba River, both of which had rich deposits of gold. While some of the mining boom towns faded away once gold fever died down, other settlements such as Downieville and Sierra City have remained. [6] [7]

Notable gold nuggets found in the county include a 26.5 pound specimen, avoirdupois, found by a group of sailors at Sailor Ravine, two miles above Downieville. A 51-pound specimen was found in 1853 by a group of Frenchmen in French Ravine. The 106 pound Monumental Nugget was found in Sept. 1869 at Sierra City. [8]

The Bald Mountain drift mine in Forest City was founded in Aug. 1864, and was the largest of its kind in the state at the time. The Bald Mountain Extension was located in 1874 east of Forest. The Monte Cristo Mine was located in 1854. The largest quartz-mine is the Sierra Buttes Gold Mine was located in 1850 near Sierra City. The Gold Bluff Mine was located near Downieville in 1854. By 1880 the county was "crushing" 70,000 tons of quartz and had 266 miles of mining ditches. [8]

Boundary dispute with Nevada County

Since the enactment of the statute in which the California State Legislature defined the common boundary between Nevada and Sierra Counties in 1874, no survey was conducted to determine where the straight line segment of the common boundary between the two counties ran. In particular, the statute, at the time codified as Section 3921 of the California Political Code, at the time stated:

...thence south on said state line (state of Nevada) to the northeast corner of Nevada County, a point east of the source of the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River; thence west to the source of, and down the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River to a point ten miles above the mouth of the latter.

Since the line was not surveyed and the legislature never defined where the "point east of the source of the South Fork of the Middle Yuba River" was, the location of the straight air line between the state line and this point was unknown. As such, both counties claimed that the point east of the source, which itself was also unknown, was located in different places. This created a situation where a strip of land averaging 1.22 miles in width and around 31.29 square miles were under dispute, with Sierra County claiming that Nevada County was encroaching on their jurisdiction when attempting to levy property taxes. The trial court, that of Plumas County, sided with Sierra County, declaring that the disputed area had always belonged to Sierra County since the legislature defined the boundary in dispute by referencing Public Land Survey System lines. It also determined that the source of South Fork of the Middle Yuba River was that of several springs in the Sierra Nevada, contrary to the artificial English Lake, which ceased to exist after the failure of its dam in 1883, which is where the source of said waterway was in the eyes of Nevada County. The California Supreme Court affirmed the trial courts decision on December 28, 1908. [9]

Geography

Sierra County, California, near Plumas National Forest Sierra County California United States 2023 June 01.jpg
Sierra County, California, near Plumas National Forest

Sierra County, California covers 962 square miles according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county comprises 953 square miles of land and 9 square miles of water. The county is located in the Sierra Nevada. The county has a diverse range of landscapes, from mountains to forests, with numerous lakes and streams. The area has opportunities for hiking, fishing, and hunting. [10]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Politics and government

Because Loyalton is Sierra County's most populous municipality and its only incorporated city, generally half of the meetings of the county's board of supervisors are held in Downieville and the other half are held in Loyalton. [11] The county is governed by the five-member Sierra County Board of Supervisors, consisting of the following members as of August 2021. [12]

Law enforcement is provided by the Sierra County Sheriff's Department, headed by current Sierra County Sheriff-Coroner Michael "Mike" Fisher. Due to the county's sparse population and geographical obstacles, the Sheriff's Department operates a substation in Loyalton in addition to their main headquarters in Downieville. [13]

Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration

Overview

Sierra County at one time had favored the Democratic party in presidential elections and was one of few counties in California to be won by George McGovern. In more recent times it is a strongly Republican county in presidential and congressional elections. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

United States presidential election results for Sierra County, California [16] [note 2]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.%No.%No.%
2020 1,14258.65%73037.49%753.85%
2016 1,04856.40%60132.35%20911.25%
2012 1,05658.70%65336.30%905.00%
2008 1,15858.16%74337.32%904.52%
2004 1,24964.12%64633.16%532.72%
2000 1,17263.45%54029.24%1357.31%
1996 87751.38%57333.57%25715.06%
1992 69136.85%65334.83%53128.32%
1988 86050.71%79146.64%452.65%
1984 1,07856.86%78141.19%371.95%
1980 85549.77%65137.89%21212.34%
1976 68043.15%84153.36%553.49%
1972 62947.51%65849.70%372.79%
1968 54845.93%55946.86%867.21%
1964 41333.28%82866.72%00.00%
1960 57646.79%64752.56%80.65%
1956 63850.55%62049.13%40.32%
1952 82253.76%69845.65%90.59%
1948 54643.40%66052.46%524.13%
1944 44339.91%66259.64%50.45%
1940 51132.38%1,05766.98%100.63%
1936 34022.56%1,15276.44%151.00%
1932 29225.46%79669.40%595.14%
1928 45751.52%42047.35%101.13%
1924 27638.93%7310.30%36050.78%
1920 50672.18%15822.54%375.28%
1916 36035.36%59458.35%646.29%
1912 100.86%51544.47%63354.66%
1908 60055.40%41037.86%736.74%
1904 79165.05%37630.92%494.03%
1900 70260.99%43637.88%131.13%
1896 70756.61%52742.19%151.20%
1892 78757.45%52938.61%543.94%

On November 4, 2008, Sierra County voted 64.2% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. [17]

In the 2009 special statewide election, Sierra County had the highest voter turnout of any county in California, with 53.6% of registered voters participating, according to the Los Angeles Times. The election was nearly double the overall voter turnout in the state, about 23%. [18]

Transportation

There is only one traffic signal (a flashing red light at the intersection of highways 49 and 89) in Sierra County. In the winter of 2007 it was removed after an automobile accident and was replaced in the fall of 2008.[ citation needed ]

Major highways

County roads

Public transportation

Public transportation in Sierra County is limited to vans run by senior citizen agencies in Downieville and Loyalton which the general public may ride on a space-available basis. [19]

Airport

Sierraville-Dearwater Field Airport is a general aviation airport located near Sierraville. The closest major airport is in Reno.

Crime

The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
1860 11,387
1870 5,619−50.7%
1880 6,62317.9%
1890 5,051−23.7%
1900 4,017−20.5%
1910 4,0982.0%
1920 1,783−56.5%
1930 2,42235.8%
1940 3,02524.9%
1950 2,410−20.3%
1960 2,247−6.8%
1970 2,3655.3%
1980 3,07329.9%
1990 3,3188.0%
2000 3,5557.1%
2010 3,240−8.9%
2020 3,236−0.1%
2023 (est.)3,200 [21] −1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [22]
1790-1960 [23] 1900-1990 [24]
1990-2000 [25] 2010 [26] 2020 [27]

2020 census

Sierra County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / EthnicityPop 2010 [26] Pop 2020 [27] % 2010% 2020
White alone (NH)2,8552,61588.12%80.81%
Black or African American alone (NH)570.15%0.22%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)41181.27%0.56%
Asian alone (NH)1270.37%0.22%
Pacific Islander alone (NH)210.06%0.03%
Some Other Race alone (NH)1250.03%0.77%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)551861.70%5.75%
Hispanic or Latino (any race)2693778.30%11.65%
Total3,2403,236100.00%100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

2015

As of 2015 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Sierra County, California are: [28]

Largest ancestries (2015)Percent
English Flag of England.svg 19.0%
German Flag of Germany.svg 18.2%
"American" Flag of the United States.svg 16.1%
Scottish Flag of Scotland.svg 6.4%
Italian Flag of Italy.svg 5.9%
Polish Flag of Poland.svg 4.6%
Portuguese Flag of Portugal.svg 4.0%
Swiss Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg 3.6%
Swedish Flag of Sweden.svg 3.2%
French Flag of France.svg 3.1%

2011

Places by population, race, and income

2010

The 2010 United States Census reported that Sierra County had a population of 3,240. The racial makeup of Sierra County was 3,022 (93.3%) White, 6 (0.2%) African American, 44 (1.4%) Native American, 12 (0.4%) Asian, 2 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 75 (2.3%) from other races, and 79 (2.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 269 persons (8.3%). [36]

2000

As of the census [37] of 2000, there were 3,555 people, 1,520 households and 986 families residing in the county. The population density was 4 people per square mile (1.5 people/km2). There were 2,202 housing units at an average density of 2 units per square mile (0.77 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.2% White, 0.2% Black or African American, 1.9% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Six percent of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Eighteen percent were of English ancestry, 16% were of Irish, 11% German and 8% Italian ancestry. [38] Over ninety-five (95.3) percent spoke English and 3.4% Spanish as their first language.

There were 1,520 households, out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.9 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,827, and the median income for a family was $42,756. Males had a median income of $36,121 versus $30,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,815. About 9.0% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 2.2% of those age 65 or over.

Media

Sierra County is served by two long-running local newspapers. The Sierra Valley region, which is partially within Sierra County, is served by the Sierra Booster, based in Loyalton. This paper has been published bi-weekly since 1949 when it was established by reporter, miner, and airman Hal Wright and his wife Allene. [39] It is today run by their daughter Janice Wright Buck.

The other paper serving the county is The Mountain Messenger which is based in Downieville. The Messenger has been in constant publication since 1853 and is currently the longest-running weekly newspaper in the state of California. Its more notable former contributor was Mark Twain, at the time in hiding from Nevadan authorities and writing under his birth name of Samuel Clemens. [40]

This paper was the center of considerable media attention in early 2020 when its future was uncertain with the retirement of Don Russell, who had owned and operated it for 30 years; it was saved by local retiree Carl Butz, who purchased the paper and runs it today. [41] [42] The Mountain Messenger is printed every Thursday by Feather Publishing Co., based in Quincy; it is distributed across Sierra, eastern Plumas and western Nevada counties.

Education

Communities

City

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Sierra County. [43]

county seat

RankCity/Town/etc.Municipal typePopulation (2010 Census)
1 Loyalton City769
2 Sierra Brooks CDP478
3 Downieville CDP282
4 Sierra City CDP221
5 Calpine CDP205
6 Sierraville CDP200
7 Verdi CDP162
8 Pike CDP134
9 Goodyears Bar CDP68
10 Alleghany CDP58
11 Sattley CDP49

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  2. The leading “other” candidate, national Progressive and statewide Republican nominee Theodore Roosevelt, received 483 votes, whilst Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs received 133 votes, Prohibition Party candidate Eugene W. Chafin received 13 votes, and various write-in candidates received 14 votes.
  3. Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  4. Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  5. Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native

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39°35′N120°30′W / 39.59°N 120.50°W / 39.59; -120.50