It’s official: Grass Valley, California, is the most Cornish place in America. And so is Gold Hill, Nevada. And soon, New Almaden, California. And after that perhaps an historic settlement near you.
The first “Cornish Town, USA” plaque was unveiled during the California Cornish June 2015 gathering and presented later to Mayor Jason Fouyer at a meeting of the Grass Valley City Council.
Council members enthusiastically embraced their city’s “Cornish Town” designation, as did Robin Galvan-Davies, CEO of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Also in June, the California Cornish Cousins presented a plaque to Gold Hill, Nevada, an historic mining settlement one mile from Virginia City. Gold Hill was the location of the Cornish enclave near the rich mines of the Comstock Lode.
In October the Cousins will present a “Cornish Town” plaque to New Almaden, CA. a Cornish settlement and site of the largest mercury mine in the Western Hemisphere. (See related article on New Alamden’s
Pioneer Day, Saturday, October 10, 2015
“Our mission is to promote Cornish culture,” said CCC president Gage McKinney. “One of the ways we’ve done that over the years is by hosting gatherings in places where the Cornish settled. Now we are recognizing those places.”
The Grass Valley plaque is already on display in City Hall, and will be displayed at Grass Valley’s annual pasty tossing contest in March. The Gold Hill plaque will be temporarily displayed at the Gold Hill Hotel, and will have a permanent home after the town’s Virginia and Truckee Railroad Station is refurbished.
The New Almaden plaque will probably find a place in the museum in the Casa Grande at New Almaden.
“These California Cornish towns owe a debt to many of the earlier mining settlements in America,” McKinney said. “It was Cornish people from Mineral Point, for example, who came to California by the
hundreds during the Gold Rush.”
What the Cornish towns across the country have in common is minerals. They were the places
where the Cornish immigrants in the 19th and early 20th century brought their mining skills.
Wherever copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold were found, the Cornish miners drilled the deep shafts, followed the veins, and operated the pumps.
They also helped to build churches, establish schools and create communities on the Western frontier.
McKinney described the Cornish as just one of the many minority cultures in the world whose language has been displaced and folkways are dying. “We want to celebrate all the people who made America,” McKinney said, “and we want to share our culture as we do our pasties.”
McKinney hopes that someday Cornish towns will be designated from one coast of America to the other.
Reprinted from “Kenderwi Kernewek,” the Newsletter of the California Cornish Cousins, Summer 2015
For more information on the California Cornish Cousins, go to: http://www.califcornishcousins.org/