Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Nevada Exchange Hotel

Nevada City, California first became a town during the Gold Rush years. The first “easterners” to come to the area built a cabin along Deer Creek and staked a claim in 1849 just a year after the find at nearby Sutter’s Mill, which started the California Gold Rush. The town’s first name was Deer Creek Diggins.

The fast-growing town then was known as Caldwell’s Upper Store after the man who opened the town’s first general store. By 1850 it was decided that the town needed an official name. The name “Nevada” was chosen--Nevada is Spanish for snow-covered--because it had been a particularly snowy winter.

Through the 1850s and 60s Nevada grew in prominence. It became a county seat in 1851 for the new state of California. At its peak Nevada had 10,000 residents. But unlike most boom mining towns Nevada stayed lawful, in part because of the town’s leadership. *

The town went through one more name change in 1864. The western part of Utah Territory was formed into the new state of Nevada. So the word “city” was added in order to distinguish between the two.

Nevada City Mine 1866

At one time, the stamp mills that surrounded Green Valley and Nevada City crushed ore from the underground mines 24/7 in search of gold. The last mines in the area were closed in the 1950s.

Ophir Quartz Mill 1866
Grass Valley

The town’s first hotel, saloon, stagecoach stop, and mail center was known as Bicknell’s Block. The original building burnt down but it was rebuilt. This building eventually became the Nevada Exchange Hotel. In 1977, this hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the oldest continuously operated hotel west of the Rockies.

In 1985 the entire downtown area of Nevada City was registered as a national historic landmark. This small town’s charm and beauty makes it a tourist attraction today. It has many buildings that reflect Victorian, Colonial, Greek Revival and California Gothic architecture.

One attraction for ghost hunters is the National "Exchange" Hotel, just like the town this hotel has an interesting history. This has resulted in it being haunted.

One female ghost that is seen in the hotel’s bar area and restroom was murdered in the hotel. It seems she owed a man some money--unfortunately for her she refused to pay him. One night he broke into Room 48 and hid in the closet. When the lady returned he slit her throat. She haunts this room as well.

Known as just "National Hotel" today.

Another ghost seen at the National is that of a little girl named Elizabeth, it is stated she died of a childhood illness--most likely mumps while staying in a room on the third floor. Many guests at the hotel have felt her presence in Room 78. Strange knocking noises are heard in this room. Elizabeth is seen playing in the 3rd floor hallways. She is seen riding a tricycle and skipping rope.

Yet another ghost seen at the National is that of a man. He is described a wearing black pants, a white shirt and a black vest. He is seen walking up an interior staircase. Witnesses who have followed him state they saw his profile clearly but then he just vanished.

* This was also in part due to a caste system that was put in place. The town’s working miners lived in Grass Valley nearby while the prosperous mine owners lived in Nevada City.

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