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Plumas County, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plumas County, California
County of Plumas
Images, from top down, left to right: Lake Almanor, Beckwourth Pass, Trains at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum
Official seal of Plumas County, California
Interactive map of Plumas County
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
RegionSierra Nevada
Named forSpanish words for the Feather River (Río de las Plumas)
County seatQuincy
Largest communityEast Quincy (population)
Warner Valley (area)
Portola (incorporated)
 • TypeCouncil–Administrator
 • ChairDwight Ceresola
 • Vice ChairGreg Hagwood
 • Board of Supervisors[2]
  • Dwight Ceresola
  • Kevin Goss
  • Tom McGowan
  • Greg Hagwood
  • Jeff Engel
 • County AdministratorVacant[1]
 • Total2,613 sq mi (6,770 km2)
 • Land2,553 sq mi (6,610 km2)
 • Water60 sq mi (200 km2)
Highest elevation
8,372 ft (2,552 m)
 • Total19,790
 • Density7.6/sq mi (2.9/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific Standard Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Congressional district3rd

Plumas County (/ˈplməs/ i) is a county in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 19,790.[3] The county seat is Quincy,[4] and the only incorporated city is Portola. The largest community in the county is East Quincy. The county was named for the Spanish Río de las Plumas (the Feather River), which flows through it. The county itself is also the namesake of a native moth species, Hadena plumasata.[5]


Prehistorically, the indigenous Mountain Maidu were the primary inhabitants of the area now known as Plumas County. The Maidu lived in small settlements along the edges of valleys, subsisting on roots, acorns, grasses, seeds, and occasionally fish and big game. They were decentralized and had no tribal leadership; most bands lived along waterways in and around their own valleys. Areas with high snowfall, including the Mohawk and Sierra valleys, were hunting grounds for game in the warmer months.[6][7]

In 1848, European Americans discovered gold in the Sierra foothills. Miners were attracted to Plumas County in particular, largely due to the tales of Thomas Stoddard, who claimed to have discovered a lake lined with gold nuggets while lost in the wilderness. Gold-hungry prospectors flooded the area. Though hopeful miners scoured the glacial lakes for months, they did not find the purported lake of gold. But some had success panning for gold in the rivers and creeks in the area, and created squatters' villages, the first non-Native American settlements.[8]

Rough shanty towns quickly sprang up around successful mining areas, including Rich Bar, Indian Bar, and Rabbit Creek (now La Porte). Many were developed adjacent to the Feather River, named Río de las Plumas by Spanish explorer Captain Luis Arguello in 1820.

In 1850, African-American frontiersman James Beckwourth discovered the lowest pass through the Sierras, which became known as Beckwourth Pass. Using the pass, he blazed a trail from Western Nevada through much of Plumas County, eventually terminating in the Sacramento Valley.[9] Many erstwhile miners followed this trail into Plumas County. Beckwourth also set up a trading post in the western Sierra Valley that still stands today. Though the Beckwourth Trail was longer than the original emigrant trail that ran south of Plumas County, its lower elevations extended its seasonal use when the higher trail was snowbound and impassable. Between 1851 and 1854, the Beckwourth Trail was frequently traveled, but in 1854, use dropped sharply when it became a toll road. The toll to move a ton of freight from Bidwell Bar to Quincy was about $18. This made using the Beckwourth Road an expensive enterprise and use of the Beckwourth Trail declined.[10]

Plumas County was formed in 1854 during a meeting of three commissioners at the American Ranch in Quincy. It was carved from the eastern portion of Butte County. Quincy, originally a mining town, was chosen as the county seat after an early settler donated a plot of land there to establish the seat. Once it became the seat, nearby Elizabethtown faded and ultimately became defunct. In 1864, the state legislature took a large portion of Plumas County to organize Lassen County. Shortly afterward, Plumas County annexed part of Sierra County, including the prosperous mining town of La Porte.

Over the next decades, different industries drove the growth of the various settlements that sprung up around the county. Greenville began as a mining and farming community in Indian Valley in the late 1850s. Chester was formed near the area that is now Lake Almanor, as a result of cattle ranching and the timber industry.

When the Western Pacific Railroad was constructed in 1910, Portola developed as an important railroad stop. Thanks to the railroad, Plumas County could export its lumber beyond the local area, and the timber industry became dominant in the county's economy for decades. As the railroad route extended up the Feather River Canyon, it was also used by the area's first tourists and sightseers. When the Feather River Highway was completed in 1937 with federal investment in infrastructure by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, Plumas County became linked to the Sacramento Valley year-round thanks to the route's low elevation.[9]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 2,613 square miles (6,770 km2), of which 2,553 square miles (6,610 km2) is land and 60 square miles (160 km2) (2.3%) is water.[11]

Plumas County is in the far northern end of the Sierra Nevada range. The area's rugged terrain marks the transition point between the northern Sierra Nevada and the southern end of the Cascade Range.[12] Lassen Peak, the southernmost volcanic peak in the Cascade Range, is just north of Plumas County's border, and part of Lassen Volcanic National Park extends into the county's northwest corner.

Plumas National Forest's 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km2) offer a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, hunting and fishing. The area has more than 100 natural and artificial lakes. Many of the natural lakes are glacial in origin and can be found in and around Lakes Basin Recreation Area.[13] The artificial lakes include Lake Almanor, Lake Davis, Frenchman Lake, Little Grass Valley Reservoir, Antelope Lake, and Bucks Lake. Plumas County also has more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of rivers and streams.[14] All three forks of the Feather River run through the area.

Designated Natural Areas

Water areas

Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[23]
1790–1960[24] 1900–1990[25]
1990–2000[26] 2010–2015[3]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Plumas County had a population of 20,007. The racial makeup of Plumas County was 17,797 (89.0%) White, 192 (1.0%) African American, 539 (2.7%) Native American, 134 (0.7%) Asian, 18 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 603 (3.0%) from other races, and 724 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,605 persons (8.0%).[27]


As of the census[28] of 2000, there were 20,824 people, 9,000 households, and 6,047 families residing in the county. The population density was 8 people per square mile (3.1 people/km2). There were 13,386 housing units at an average density of 5 units per square mile (1.9 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.8% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 2.6% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.8% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 5.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.1% were of German, 15.0% English, 10.1% Irish and 8.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.4% spoke English and 3.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 9,000 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.7% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 22.6% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 99.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.9 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,351, and the median income for a family was $46,119. Males had a median income of $38,742 versus $25,734 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,391. About 9.0% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government

Plumas County has five elected Supervisors, each elected within their own district. The Board of Supervisors oversees the management of county government and members serve four-year terms. The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors provides support to the Board of Supervisors and information to the public.[29]

The County Administrative Office's purpose is to facilitate the delivery of cost-effective county services in accordance with the vision and policies outlined by the Board of Supervisors. Its responsibilities include monitoring legislative affairs, preparing the county's annual budget, and undertaking studies and investigations for the Board of Supervisors.[30]

The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county. The sheriff's jurisdiction extends throughout the county, including federal and state lands. The county sheriff is elected to the nonpartisan office for a four-year term and is charged with preserving the peace, enforcing criminal statutes, and investigating known or suspected criminal activity.[31]

More than three-quarters of Plumas County's 2,618 square miles (6,780 km2) is National Forest Service land.[32] The management of Plumas National Forest is overseen by three districts: Beckwourth Ranger District,[33] Mt. Hough Ranger District,[34] and Feather River Ranger District.[35]


Voter registration

Cities by population and voter registration

[data unknown/missing]


In its early history, Plumas was a reliable Republican county, voting for that party in every election from 1864 to 1908.[37] It then became one of the most reliably Democratic counties in California, voting for the Democratic nominee for president in 13 straight elections from 1928 to 1976. The county has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, except for 1992, when Bill Clinton won a small plurality.

United States presidential election results for Plumas County, California[38]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 6,445 57.24% 4,561 40.51% 254 2.26%
2016 5,420 55.03% 3,459 35.12% 971 9.86%
2012 5,721 56.76% 4,026 39.94% 333 3.30%
2008 6,035 54.72% 4,715 42.75% 278 2.52%
2004 6,905 61.71% 4,129 36.90% 156 1.39%
2000 6,343 60.98% 3,458 33.25% 600 5.77%
1996 4,905 50.31% 3,540 36.31% 1,305 13.38%
1992 3,599 36.17% 3,742 37.61% 2,608 26.21%
1988 4,603 51.06% 4,251 47.15% 161 1.79%
1984 5,224 56.61% 3,837 41.58% 167 1.81%
1980 4,182 51.24% 2,911 35.67% 1,068 13.09%
1976 2,884 43.94% 3,429 52.25% 250 3.81%
1972 2,952 46.42% 3,057 48.07% 351 5.52%
1968 2,097 37.37% 2,961 52.77% 553 9.86%
1964 1,686 29.51% 4,019 70.35% 8 0.14%
1960 2,015 37.47% 3,333 61.97% 30 0.56%
1956 2,267 41.87% 3,127 57.75% 21 0.39%
1952 2,687 43.46% 3,435 55.56% 61 0.99%
1948 1,657 32.76% 3,125 61.78% 276 5.46%
1944 1,126 29.95% 2,625 69.83% 8 0.21%
1940 1,270 26.79% 3,418 72.11% 52 1.10%
1936 680 19.80% 2,707 78.81% 48 1.40%
1932 582 21.68% 2,035 75.82% 67 2.50%
1928 947 45.64% 1,079 52.00% 49 2.36%
1924 564 32.92% 182 10.62% 967 56.45%
1920 999 63.96% 403 25.80% 160 10.24%
1916 663 36.55% 1,025 56.50% 126 6.95%
1912 11 0.62% 742 41.66% 1,028 57.72%
1908 659 57.91% 395 34.71% 84 7.38%
1904 707 65.28% 347 32.04% 29 2.68%
1900 640 58.45% 442 40.37% 13 1.19%
1896 678 53.47% 575 45.35% 15 1.18%
1892 642 52.15% 537 43.62% 52 4.22%

Plumas County is in California's  1st congressional district, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa.[39] At the state level, Plumas is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Ted Gaines,[40] and the  1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Megan Dahle.[41]


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


  • The town of Portola is home to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, one of the largest railroad museums in North America. It is one of the county's major tourist attractions.
  • The town of Chester is home to the Collins Pine Museum, completed in 2007 and dedicated to educating the public about the history of the Collins Pine Company's (a division of The Collins Companies) logging operations in the Chester region.
  • The Plumas County Museum in Quincy is notable for exhibits on the Maidu people, the California Gold Rush, logging, and the Variel House. It also hosts contemporary art exhibits.


The primary local news source since 1866 is Feather Publishing Co., Inc. Until 2020, four Plumas County newspapers were published every Wednesday, except for certain holidays; all content was available online instead at until June 29th, 2023 when Plumas News announced it was shutting down.[44] Feather Publishing will continue to release High Country Life, The Dining Guide, The Visitor Guide, maps, and more while also providing commercial printing to the local community.

Plumas County is in the Sacramento television market, and thus receives Sacramento media. Sacramento stations KXTV and KCRA regularly cover major news events in Plumas County.



Major highways

Scenic byways

The Feather River National Scenic Byway follows the Middle and North Forks of the Feather River, traversing steep canyon walls and high mountain valleys. The route features grasslands, oak woodlands, mixed conifer, and high desert chaparral. It begins in the Sacramento Valley, following the Feather River Canyon and entering Plumas County just west of Storrie. As it gains elevation, it climbs over the crest of the Sierra and passes through Quincy and Portola, eventually reaching the Middle Fork of the Feather River and following it to its headwaters in Sierra Valley. After going through Beckwourth Pass, the route terminates at Hallelujah Junction on Highway 395.[45][46]

The southernmost point of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Lake Almanor, is in Plumas County. The route spans 500 miles between California and Oregon and has views of dramatic volcanic landscapes, including nearby Lassen Peak.[47]

The Scenic Byway Link is the section of Highway 89 that connects the Volcanic Legacy and Feather River Scenic Byways. Featuring the alpine meadows of Indian Valley, the rushing waters of Indian Creek, and views of Mt. Hough and the surrounding mountains, the route is about 18 miles long.[48]

Public transit

Plumas Transit Systems, operated by the county, provides local service in Quincy and routes to Chester and Portola.


Gansner Field is a general aviation airport near Quincy. Rogers Field is near Chester; in addition to its civil-aviation role it also serves as the Chester Air Attack Base, a logistical and coordination facility for the California Department of Forestry's aerial firefighting (both fixed-wing and helicopter). Resources include fueling, retardant loading, communications, and some quartering for aircrew and ground firefighting teams. Nervino Airport is in Beckwourth, east of Portola.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Plumas County.[49]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2019 estimate)
1 East Quincy CDP 2,210
2 Chester CDP 2,145
5 Portola City 1,913
4 Quincy CDP 1,952
6 Greenville CDP 817
7 Graeagle CDP 538
10 Delleker CDP 477
8 Hamilton Branch CDP 495
12 Meadow Valley CDP 420
11 Chilcoot-Vinton CDP 422
13 Beckwourth CDP 414
14 Lake Almanor Country Club CDP 408
9 Lake Almanor Peninsula CDP 485
15 Plumas Eureka CDP 364
21 Iron Horse CDP 191
19 Lake Almanor West CDP 224
17 Cromberg CDP 316
18 Greenhorn CDP 255
24 Crescent Mills CDP 93
33 Mabie CDP 25
28 Mohawk Vista CDP 54
23 East Shore CDP 128
22 C-Road CDP 140
20 Taylorsville CDP 198
31 Whitehawk CDP 49
37 Valley Ranch CDP 0
16 Twain CDP 327
25 Gold Mountain CDP 80
t-27 Clio CDP 59
t-26 Keddie CDP 76
29 Indian Falls CDP 53
30 Lake Davis CDP 52
35 Blairsden CDP 18
t-3 Greenville Rancheria (Maidu Indians)[50] AIAN 2,000
t-32 Prattville CDP 28
37 Canyondam CDP 0
37 La Porte CDP 0
37 Belden CDP 0
37 Johnsville CDP 0
34 Spring Garden CDP 20
37 Paxton CDP 0
37 Tobin CDP 0
37 Bucks Lake CDP 0
37 Storrie CDP 0
t-37 Little Grass Valley CDP 0
t-36 Warner Valley CDP 2
t-37 Almanor[51] former CDP 0
t-37 Caribou CDP 0

See also


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. ^ "Tehama County hires new administrator out of Plumas County". Red Bluff Daily News. February 4, 2022. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  2. ^ "Board of Supervisors | Plumas County, CA - Official Website".
  3. ^ a b c "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Troubridge, J. T.; Crabo, L. G. (2002). "A review of the Nearctic species of Hadena (Schrank), 1802 (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with descriptions of six new species" (PDF). Fabreries. 27 (2): 109–154. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  6. ^ "Official visitor information for Plumas County, Northern California". Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  7. ^ "Plumas County, CA - Official Website - Northern Maidu". Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  8. ^ Young, Jim (November 7, 2017). Plumas County: History of the Feather River Region. Arcadia. ISBN 9780738524092. Retrieved November 7, 2017 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b "PCMA". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  10. ^ McIntosh, Clarence (June 1986). "Transportation in Plumas County Before the Railroad". Plumas Memories, Plumas Historical Society. Publication #51.
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "Plumas National Forest - Recreation". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Lakes Basin Recreation Area Community". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  14. ^ "Plumas County, CA - Official Website - About Plumas County". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  16. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  17. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  19. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  20. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  21. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd Data unavailable
  23. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  24. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  25. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  26. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  27. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
  28. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  29. ^ "Plumas County, CA - Official Website - Board of Supervisors". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "County Administrative Office". Plumas County, California. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  31. ^ "Plumas County, CA - Official Website - Sheriff / Coroner". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  32. ^ "Forests and Wilderness, Plumas County Northern California". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  33. ^ "Plumas National Forest - Beckwourth Ranger District". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  34. ^ "Plumas National Forest - Mt. Hough Ranger District". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  35. ^ "Plumas National Forest - Feather River Ranger District". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  37. ^ Menendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, pp. 153-155 ISBN 0786422173
  38. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  39. ^ "California's  1st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  40. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  41. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009 Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  43. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  44. ^ "We are closing Plumas News — but Feather Publishing is here to stay". June 29, 2023.
  45. ^ "America's Byways". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  46. ^ "America's Byways". Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  47. ^ "America's Byways". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  48. ^ "Scenic Byways in Plumas County Northern California". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  49. ^ "Census Coverage Measurement". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  50. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search : Greenville Rancheria (Maidu Indians)". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  51. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search : Almanor". Retrieved November 7, 2017.

External links

40°01′N 120°50′W / 40.01°N 120.83°W / 40.01; -120.83

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