As you make your way up California, you pass by big northern California cities like Sacramento and San Francisco, not realizing there are so many other cities and communities to explore. Marysville, California is a town rich with history that dates all the way back to the early 20th century. Take a journey back in time to experience the birth of Marysville and the events that have made it into the community it is today.
The Birth of Marysville
To start understanding Marysville, California history, you need to travel back to the fall of 1842. A man named John A. Sutter leased a large piece of land to Theodore Cordua, who turned the property into the Cordua Ranch. With livestock, a trading post, and his home, Cordua used the land for whatever he could. He even bought seven additional leagues of land from the Mexican government before finally being bought out by two new parties.
In 1848, Charles Covillaud, a former employee of Cordua, struck gold and used his new fortune to buy half of the Cordua Ranch. Michael C. Nye and William Foster followed suit and bought the other half in 1849. From there, more buying and selling went on, which eventually led to the four partners—Covillaud, Jose Ramirez, John Sampson, and Sicard.
The four new partners of Cordua Ranch decided it was time to bring the land to its fullest potential and hired French surveyor, Augustus Le Plongeon, to create a master plan for a town. In addition to that project, a fifth partner joined, named Stephen J. Fields, who drew up a proper deed for the land sold.
As the land started to develop with its new owners, the town’s name, Marysville, was born. The inspiration came from Covillaud’s new wife, Mary Murphy, who was a survivor of the Donner Party.
With a name in place, Marysville made a giant leap forward by being incorporated with the new California legislature, and the first Marysville mayor was elected in 1851.
The following years were full of growth and success for the new town of Marysville. By 1853, this northern California city had brick buildings, mills, iron works, machine shops, factories, schools, churches, and two daily newspapers. The town’s population was also approaching 10,000. In today’s world, that may not seem like much, but for a prospering town like Marysville, it was a milestone.
Just as the Gold Rush era boosted the economy of the whole country, it also played a huge hand in stimulating Marysville’s continued growth. In 1857, more than $10 million worth of gold was shipped from Marysville’s banks to the U.S. Mint in San Francisco.
After the Gold Rush era and the initial founding of Marysville passed, the town remained fairly quiet. Hydraulic mining led to dikes being built and the town’s industrial development continued for a short while. Since then, a community college was founded in 1927, as well as Beale air Force Base in 1942.
What Makes Marysville Unique
Even though this northern California city may not be a booming town full of bustling traffic and crowds, its history has made a mark on the town’s unique way of life. Take a look at what sets Marysville apart from other towns in the U.S.
Marysville Levee System
As mentioned before, Marysville faced a controversy back in the late 1800s due to hydraulic mining on the Yuba and Feather rivers. This mining raised the riverbeds, making the town susceptible to flooding during storms and water runoff. To solve the problem, this northern California city built a levee system that is still maintained today.
While the levee fixed one issue, it created another. By protecting the city from flooding, the levee sealed the city off and made future growth almost impossible. As a result, Marysville has about the same population as it did during the Gold Rush, earning its nickname “California’s Oldest Little City.”
Agriculture & Tourism
Even though this northern California city has been held back from growing in population, the town itself is as prosperous as can be. Back in the day, Marysville made its name as a trade center for a mixed-farming (specifically peach orchards) region. Since then, the city’s economy has flourished from agriculture and tourism.
Things to See in Marysville
The next time you find yourself up near Sacramento, dive into northern California history by visiting the town of Marysville. To give you an idea of what to see there, here’s a list of landmarks and attractions popular in the area.
- Brush up on your history through Mary Aaron Memorial resources while the museum is still closed
- Have a picnic at one of the many city parks of Marysville such as Veterans Park or Triplett Park
- Visit the Bok Kai Temple built in 1880
- Go fishing at Ellis Lake
- Get in tune with nature at West Coast Falconry
- Drive by a historic landmark, the Silver Dollar Saloon
- Shop til you drop while you stroll through Historic D Street in downtown Marysville
With a little more knowledge of Marysville, California history and a list of things to do in town, you’re ready to get out and explore. Don’t forget to make a visit to Sacramento while you’re up north and stop by Hard Rock Hotel at Fire Mountain. With a casino, hotel, and restaurants, Hard Rock makes for a great day trip or basecamp for your vacation.