The Nevada County Board of Supervisors has postponed a vote on whether a knee-deep waterway keeps the name “Negro Creek” or is changed to something more politically correct. The creek located in Rough and ready is in Supervisor Hank Weston’s District.
“We found that the federal maps and the state maps showed the small creek as being called Negro Creek. In our assessor’s map, we found that there was the pejorative term that was put in. That has since been changed and cleaned up and taken off.”
Apparently the pejorative form had appeared on a 2003 Nevada County Assessors map. Since then, the name has been removed and it now appears just as “Creek” on the map. However, the name Negro Creek may exist on other State and Federal maps or databases. Librarian Pat Chesnut with the Searles Historical Library says Beans’s History and Directory of Nevada County, published in 1867, refers to Negro Creek as a tributary to Deer Creek. Also, the California state map of mining clains in Nevada County shows the “Negro Creek Placer Mine” along the creek. Many place names were given to streams, valleys and or mountains based on the miners known to work the areas. The name Negro Creek is therefore of historic importance as it is one of the few designations that allude to the importance of the Negro miners in the area. Chestnut went on to say that the current efforts of many to eliminate what area called derogatory names in this case would actually cause the efforts of these early miners to be deleted from the historical record of this area.
Someone has petitioned the USGS Geographic Names Office to change the creek name to “Butterfly Creek” and Gail Smith who recently purchased the property has suggested the name Black Miner’s Creek.”
Supervisors are seeking an opinion from the NAACP and will revisit the issue at their December 6th meeting.