The Town of Washington (originally called Indiana Camp) Nevada County, CA

Photo courtesy of Washington Hotel   www.washingtonhotel.net

Photo courtesy of Washington Hotel www.washingtonhotel.net

By Judy J. Pinegar

This little town in Nevada County is located on the banks of the South Fork of the Yuba River. It is located off Highway 20 between Nevada City and Interstate 80. Washington boasts a population on about 200, but that fluctuates seasonally and the town has a lot of tourist traffic in the summer.

Washington was founded in 1849, as were most of the cities in Nevada County; it was all about the Gold Rush!! These particular miners were from Indiana, so the settlement was first named Indiana Camp, but renamed to Washington in 1850. The area produced a large amount of placer gold, after that hard rock and hydraulic mines were established and were also very productive. Many people of Chinese descent worked in the area at these times.

The hotel in the town of Washington started with Hessel B. Buisman who was born in Holland in 1827, he landed in San Francisco in 1850. He originally kept a hotel in the town of Jefferson located near Washington from 1852 to 1857. He then came to Washington building a two story hotel which could accommodate up to 30 guests.

After the Buisman owners passed away, their daughter and her husband Eldridge Worthley kept the hotel for years. The hotel was called “The Worthley” or “Washington Hotel” and sat on the same site as the current hotel today. The hotel stable was across the street.

At 11 PM, August 16th, 1867 The Big Fire broke out in a nearby cabin. It jumped from house to house and destroyed almost every business downtown Washington including the Hotel. The hotel was rebuilt.

On April 21st, 1896 another fire started in the kitchen of the Washington Hotel. This fire destroyed the hotel and several buildings nearby. This time, Worthley had taken out fire insurance previous to the fire. The hotel was rebuilt as fast as the weather would allow. The picture shows the new and improved Washington Hotel after being rebuilt in 1896.

Photo courtesy of Washington Hotel www.washingtonhotel.net

Photo courtesy of Washington Hotel www.washingtonhotel.net

The Washington Mining District was always served by operators of small stage lines. This photo shows the company stage of Prescott and Grissel. A daily trip used to leave The National Hotel in Nevada City at 7 AM and arrive in Washington around noon. This was used to rest between trips or take shelter from the weather. Now the drive only takes 25 minutes in your car.

Picture from the Red Ledge Mine in Washington. The gold/quartz veins occur in the sedimentary rocks close to the contact with serpentine. Mariposite is often in association with the serpentine, and in close proximity to the gold. Photo courtesy of http://www.mindat.org/loc-3515.html

The town of Washington currently consists of the Washington Hotel/bar, a restaurant, a grocery store, a one room schoolhouse that has educated students continuously for over 100 years, and two trailer park campgrounds

There are two trailer parks, Gene’s Pine Aire Campground and the River Rest Resort have been in business since the 1960’s with various owners. Campsites are often to capacity, so reservations are advised.

Picture courtesy of River Rest Resort (see above)

Picture courtesy of River Rest Resort (see above)


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