Interactive Maps of Nevada City and other Neighborhoods
A picture tells a thousand words, but a map can actually help take you there! Each of the links below will take you to an interactive map of the area.
Finding Mining Ditches for Yourself
Explore around anywhere in western Nevada County and take a look at your neighborhood.
You can switch to see the lidar "Slope" layer (under Show Layers) to discover old hydraulic mining claims, hidden mine shafts and ditches.
Unveil the nearly 2,000 recorded mines in the area. Turn on the Ditch Legend (under Show Layers) to what all the ditches are called or click on one to find out more information.
See all the different public trails, parks, property boundaries, the official Nevada County map, contours, terrain,
9 different aerial views, topological maps, public land, historical map overlays, modern canals, water diversions, and much more.
Below there are another 50+ featured descriptive maps with more information about specific areas.
Check out the points of interest
or ones with a photo
See How Lidar Technology Uncovers our History
The left image is a lidar-rendered "Slope" image showing the white outlines of ditches and old roads in Willow Valley, just below Deer Creek Reservoir.
The two Snow Mountain ditches are quite prominent north of Deer Creek.
The right image add the ditches drawn in. The D-S Canal and Cascade Ditch are most prominent to the south of Deer Creek, on either side of Pasquale Road (in yellow).
More Than 50 Local Maps to Discover
Gold Rush Nevada City
If you are not familiar with the town or the area, check out this Nevada City Area Map
to yourself get oriented.
The Cayote Range
was the area just north of Nevada City, now close to highway 49, which was rich with gold in the early days of the Gold Rush.
After many city-wide fires, including the great fire of July 1856 and the May 1858 fire
the city finally voted on competing
fire protection proposals
in June 1860.
This lead to the creation of Marsh's Pond, the city's first reservoir, by the Madelyn Helling Library, north of town.
You can also check out an early street map of Nevada City
And from around the same time the
original USGS land survey
was carried out between 1867-1872. Later in the early 1890s, the USGS created the first accurate topological maps of the area, covering
Nevada City and Banner Mountain
The Early Ditches
The Mosquito Ditch
provided the first water to the miners on Coyote Hill, northeast of Nevada City. The
Rock Creek Ditch
brought water to Sugar Loaf Mountain and was the first commercial ditch that cost $10,000 to build and paid for itself in the first 6 weeks of operations. The
Coyote and Deer Creek ditches
were competing water companies that brought year-round water from Deer Creek to the mining claims on Coyote Hill and Coyoteville, northwest of Nevada City.
Rough and Ready
original Rough and Ready and Slate Creek ditches
started in Nevada City on Deer Creek, but flowed all the way
Randolph Hill and Rough and Ready
- Ten different ditches flow through
east of Nevada City, from Willow Valley Creek (formerly Laird or Slate Creek) and Deer Creek, west to Nevada City. This included Tomlinson's Ditch
, originally dug by Amos Laird and John Wadsworth in the spring of 1851.
- To the southeast of Nevada City, Gold Run Creek flows across
The rich mining claims there in the 1850s need water from Little Deer Creek and Deer Creek to allow the miners to recover all the gold. Several ditches including the
Miner's Deer Creek Ditch
Laird's Gold Flat Ditch
were built to support this busy mining district. Later in 1874, John Dunn, Charles Marsh, and the Cooper brothers built a 14-mile-long
to bring immense amounts of timber and lumber to Town Talk, at the gap between Gold Flat and Brunswick Basin.
The Snow Mountain Ditches
- Justus Fordyce and Dan Rich started a new set of ditches on April 7, 1853. The first, the
Fordyce and Rich Rock Creek Ditch
was brought water from Rock Creek to Sugar Loaf Mountain. In 1854, they started the
Snow Mountain Ditch
and Little or Upper Snow Mountain Ditch
. Today, the Snow Mountain Ditch still brings water from Deer Creek to residents in the Cement Hill area.
In February 1855, the dominate water company, the Rock Creek, Deer Creek and South Yuba Canal Company started work on the immense
South Yuba Canal
, from the South Yuba River to the south fork of Deer Creek. It would take three years and about $600,000 to complete.
Laird's Lost Hill Diggings and his New Ditch
- Amos Laird, for a time, was the richest miner in Nevada City. His mining claims on
American Hill and Wet Hill, all northwest of Nevada City were some of the most profitable in the city. But they needed huge amounts of water to keep them running. Laird built his
with an enormous wooden dam at
. In February 1857, the dam broke flooding parts of Nevada City, washing away several buildings and two bridges.
The Mountain Lakes and Ditch Network on Washington Ridge
- The South Yuba Canal Company constructed a large number of
reservoirs and mountain lakes
to store water for the summer months. Water was then channeled down the South Yuba Canal and into the
. They also build branch ditches to
Alpha, Gold Hill
. Later the Blue Tent Mining Company built
another immense ditch
to their Blue Tent mining claims.
Quaker Hill and Cascade Shores
- Amos Laird built the original
from Deer Creek to provide water to
Sargent & Jacobs mining claims
on Quaker Hill and others tothe south in Hunt's Hill.
Cement Hill and Hirschman's Pond
- There were several ditches that provides water to the mining claims on
, northwest of Nevada City during the 1870s. The famous
were later consolidated into the later
Hirschman & Grover
in the 1880s and early 1900s.
- Near the site of the earlier Coyote Hill, the Maltman brothers grew their
early mining claims
to cover most of Sugar Loaf Mountain to create today's immense
In 1880, a new Manzanita company built the large
to power the mine and wash the pay dirt.
In 1873, the Idaho Mine was the first to switch to water power, constructing the 12-mile-long
, from Scotts Flat and supplied by the Snow Mountain Ditch.
In November 1882, the
New Cascade Ditch
took over supplying water to the quartz gold mines, which drove Pelton Wheels to power the mills, hoists and water pumps. The modern
has replaced most of the old ditch with a pipeline.
Harmony Ridge and Lake Vera
- To the north of Nevada City, the mines of
(based on this old map
needed a new ditch in 1891 for water power. Some of the first electricty was generated from the South Yuba River and with the creation of the
Lake Vera and the China Dam Ditch
Nevada Irrigation District
- In 1921, NID was formed to provide water to much of western
acquired many of the old ditches
, constructing the
to create the
vast canal network
that still operatews today.
About the Ditch Maps
- These maps trace the paths of over 200 distinct ditches. You can learn more about their history here
They are based on more than 12,000 GPS reference points taken in the field over the last 5-6 years.
The mapped ditches include nearly 100,000 hand-drawn points to trace the 790 miles of all the old ditches. All of the creek and reservoir data was also hand-drawn.
- The interactive maps on this site uses the Google Maps platform.
The terrain, slope and contour data was rendered from the USGS Northern California Lidar Wildfires dataset from 2018, available from
the National Map
website. The data was then processed using homegrown python scripts leveraging the WhiteboxTools created by
Dr. John Lindsay at the University of Guelph
in Ontario, Canada.
All the road, property boundary, park and trail data was created by the Nevada County GIS team and is available on their website
Current NID canal data comes from safeditches.com
Water diversion data comes from the California State Water Resources Control Board
The locations of nearly 2,000 local area historical mining sites are from the invaluable Western Mining History
combined with less accurate data from the archaic Bureau of Land Management