Nevada County Historical Society

Searls Library Video Collection

Oral Histories

Ardis Comstock Interview (2004) - 44 minutes
In this interview Ardis Comstock recounts her life story, focusing on her family's move to Nevada County, California during the Depression and the subsequent mining boom. Her father, a skilled carpenter and contractor, became highly sought-after for building homes for the influx of miners. Ardis describes her experiences attending school in a one-room schoolhouse, working at Douglas Aircraft... More
David Comstock Interview (October 2004) - 71 minutes
David Comstock, a Nevada County historian, shares his life story and passion for local history in this interview. He discusses his early life in Oakland and Walnut Creek, his time in the Air Force, and his career in commercial art and publishing. Comstock recounts how he met his wife, Artis, and their shared dream of building a self-sufficient life in the Nevada County woods. He details their... More
Ed Hamilton Interview (July 2006) - 49 minutes
In this interview, Ed Hamilton, born in 1907, recounts his life story, focusing on his diverse work experiences and his passion for music. He discusses his early life in Montana, working in copper mines and learning about mining techniques. After moving to California, he worked various jobs, including in the gold mines, before settling in Grass Valley. Hamilton describes building his own house... More
Glenn Jones Interview (June 18, 2004) - 81 minutes
Glenn Jones, born in Nevada City in 1924, recounts his lifelong experiences in Grass Valley, California, with a focus on the region's mining history and the changing local industries. He describes attending school and working various jobs as a young boy, including delivering newspapers and working in a bakery and butcher shop. He recalls the lack of refrigeration and the delivery of ice and... More
Oral History with Phil Oyung (January 14, 2013) - 66 minutes
Phil Oyang, born in 1938, recounts his family history and experiences growing up in a cabin behind the Empire Mill in Grass Valley, California. His grandparents immigrated from China around the turn of the century and worked for the mine owners. Phil's father arrived in 1916, followed by his mother in 1924. The family cabin, initially a one-room dwelling, was gradually expanded to accommodate... More
Rolf Laessig Mining Museum Oral History (April 15, 2024) - 98 minutes
Rolf Laessig, interviewed by Gary Kisor, recounts his time restoring mining equipment at the North Star Mining Museum in Grass Valley, California. Laessig began his work under Rudy Caesar, focusing on restoring a dynamite packing machine and a steam donkey. He emphasizes the challenges of working without plans or drawings, relying on ingenuity and problem-solving skills. Laessig also discusses... More
Ruth Tremoreux Interview (June 26, 2004) at 403 Neal St, Grass Valley - 41 minutes
Ruth Tremoreux, born in Nevada City, California in 1916, shares her life story and memories of growing up in the area. She recalls attending local schools, the rivalry between Nevada City and Grass Valley, and the burning down of her high school. After graduating, she pursued a teaching career, influenced by her father's wishes for her to have a profession. Tremoreux taught in various locations,... More
Vinnie & Genevieve Ingram Interview (January 28, 2005) - 94 minutes
This interview discusses the Ingram family and their deep roots in Grass Valley, California. Vinnie Ingram (née Beck) recounts her family history, her marriage to Maris Ingram, and their sons' careers in journalism. She also shares anecdotes about her husband's family, including his father, a state senator who was highly respected in the community. The conversation touches on various aspects of... More

Documentaries

Grass Valley Gold (1995) - 28 minutes
Grass Valley, California, nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, was once a central hub for gold mining in the United States. Its transformation from a rest stop for weary travelers to a booming mining town began with the discovery of gold-filled quartz in 1850. This revelation led to the development of hard rock mining techniques, which revolutionized the industry. The town's rich history is... More
Magic of the Land (Nevada County 1950s) by Stan Hall - 27 minutes
The American River in California was the site of a gold discovery in 1848 that sparked a massive influx of prospectors and transformed the region. Nevada City, with its historic buildings like the City Museum and the National Hotel, became a central hub in the Northern Mine area. Grass Valley, another prominent mining town, owes its growth to the discovery of gold-filled quartz by George Knight... More
Nevada City - Queen of the Gold Rush by Heather MacDonald (1999) - 27 minutes
This documentary explores the history of Nevada City, California, a prominent city during the Gold Rush era. It begins by describing the initial discovery of gold in California by James Marshall in 1848, which led to a massive influx of prospectors. Nevada City, initially known as Deer Creek Dry Diggins, quickly became a central hub for mining activity due to its rich gold deposits. The... More
Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad (1997) - 29 minutes
The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad, a 22-mile short line, played a vital role in the development of Nevada County, California, during the Gold Rush era. Built without government subsidies, the railroad facilitated the transportation of goods, including gold shipments worth over a quarter of a billion dollars, between the mines and the Transcontinental Railhead at Colfax. The railroad's... More
Nevada County Traction Company - Electric Trolley (1909-1924)(March 3, 2000) - 12 minutes
This documentary describes the history of the Nevada County Traction Company trolley line that ran between Nevada City and Grass Valley, California from 1901 to 1924. The narrative follows the trolley's route, highlighting key landmarks and obstacles encountered along the way, such as the need to reinforce the plaza bridge in Nevada City due to weight concerns. The trolley faced challenges,... More
Rebuilding the Heart of a City by Tintle, Inc (2003) - 20 minutes
In this documentary, Gary Tintle recounts in 2003 the rebuilding of the Elks Building in Nevada City after it was destroyed in a fire. He describes the challenges faced during the demolition and reconstruction, including a complex foundation system due to unsuitable soil conditions. Tintle emphasizes the community's support and the collaboration between various teams, including architects,... More
Sierra Treasures #5 Jim Flannigan at Auburn Airport and Bonnie Palmer about Lyman Gilmore - 84 minutes
In the first section, an interviewer talks with Jim Flanagan, a mechanic at the Auburn Airport, about a plane he's been working on for ten years. Flanagan discusses the plane's history, including a crash that required an engine replacement. He explains that the current engine is powerful and reliable, but also expensive to maintain. Flanagan expresses confidence in the plane's safety, though he... More
The Forty-Niners and the California Gold Rush by Brazos Productions (December 6, 1993) - 47 minutes
This documentary narrates the California Gold Rush, triggered by James Marshall's discovery of gold in 1848. The news spread rapidly, causing a mass migration of people from various backgrounds and professions to California. The gold rush significantly impacted the lives of individuals like John Sutter, whose sawmill and agricultural empire were disrupted by the influx of miners, and James... More
Waters of Gold - 27 minutes
This documentary describes the history of hydraulic mining in Nevada County, California. It begins by describing the early days of placer mining, where miners used picks, shovels, and gold pans to extract gold from rivers and streams. As the easily accessible gold was depleted, miners turned to hydraulic mining, which used high-pressure water jets to dislodge gold-bearing gravel. This method,... More

Landmark Dedications

Dedication of 545 Main St, Nevada City - Nevada County Historical Landmark (May 17, 2002) - 15 minutes
A plaque dedication ceremony was held at 545 Main Street in Nevada City, focusing on the house's history and its occupants, primarily the Searls family. The event began with acknowledgments of the current homeowners, Paul and Susan Zimmerman, for hosting the event and allowing the plaque placement. Dave Comstock, a local historian, provided a brief overview of the house's history, mentioning its... More
Dedication of the Doris Foley Library of Historical Research (May 17, 1997) - 18 minutes
This video is of a ceremony dedicating the Doris Foley Library of Historical Research. The event begins with Neil Lock, chairman of the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission, introducing the first speaker, Ed Tyson. Tyson, a volunteer at the library, highlights the significance of having two separate historical libraries in Nevada City, emphasizing their complementary nature and the... More

Other Videos

Hobart Mill, Donner Summit and Truckee in the 1920s - 57 minutes
This film reel is a collection of footage of Truckee, California, and specifically the Hobart Mills logging operation. The first part includes scenes of a Fourth of July parade in Truckee in 1922, featuring a Monarch tractor and locomotive No. 4 with its engineer, Stan Wright. Several scenes showcase the Hobart Mills lumber operation, including logging trains leaving the woods, arriving at the... More
Mr Bourn's Gold - Part 1 (Giant Powder) (California 2000) - 20 minutes
A historical drama set in Grass Valley, California during a mining strike. The story revolves around the introduction of a new explosive, giant powder, which is more efficient but also more dangerous for the miners. The miners, led by Tom Collier, strongly oppose its use due to health concerns and potential job losses. Jack Wales, a miner with a family to support, faces a dilemma between joining... More
Mr Bourn's Gold - Part 2 (Whole, Half or Abandoned) (California 2000) - 23 minutes
Part Two of a historical drama set in Grass Valley, California, during a mining strike. The narrative touches on various interconnected plotlines: the miners' resistance to the introduction of giant powder due to safety concerns, the financial struggles of the local orphanage, and the personal challenges faced by individuals like Jack Wales' widow, Jenny, who turns to singing in a tavern to... More