Faces of the Foundry: David “Sparky” Parker

Group 4

Chris Harada


Artist, historian, firefighter, bartender, and community leader David “Sparky” Parker has a long history with the Miners Foundry and Nevada City.  Here he shares a healthy dose of Spring Street history, where our community’s heart beats, and why he always looks at man hole covers.

Are you originally from Nevada County? If not, why did you decide to move to move to Nevada County? Where are you from originally?

After 46 years of living here it seems original but the answer is no. A college fraternity brother’s future wife lived in Nevada City and we would visit town. Loved it from the start. After graduation spent a Spring through Fall in Squaw Valley mostly having days filled with out door adventures with night adventures at the infamous Bear Pen Bar.  When the snow started to fly went down the hill to Winter in Nevada City and never left. Grew up in California’s rich farm land in the Sacramento—San Joaquin River Delta.

How did you first  discover the Miners Foundry?

So my first look at Miners Foundry, the place was a working foundry with what is the now parking lot filled with steel stuff and a very busy forklift. One of the things manufactured there were man hole covers which for years had me looking at man hole covers everywhere I went. The City of Sacramento had many, as on each cover you could find Miners Foundry Nevada City California on it. Spring Street was very different in those days as next door was Len’s Surplus (Sushi in the Raw to Nevada City Winery) which was really a fine junk yard.

What were your initial impressions of the Foundry?

My first real impressions came when Charles Osborn and David Woods began work towards starting the American Victorian Museum (AVM). I give full credit to Charles and David for saving the Foundry from destruction. Then they founded Community Radio KVMR and that became a Nevada City gem as well.  The AVM began to become a museum and in the process started a Sunday brunch which became a Sunday thing to do in town. That is when I fell in love with the Stone Room and all it’s charm which has never left me.

What do you like best about the Miners Foundry?

The feeling that Miners Foundry is one of the beating hearts of our community.

Why did you choose to become involved with the Foundry?

Let’s face it.  There is no better place with great history, charm and staff and is the home of America’s one-of-a-kind group The Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City California.

What types of events do you most enjoy?

Many events at the venue advance the pleasure too.

Do you have a funny or touching story to share about an experience you’ve had at the Foundry?

In 2016 The Famous Marching Presidents turn 29 and almost half that time the Foundry has been our home. Each year the group honors an individual for outstanding community service with the Col. William “ Bill “ Lambert Award.  I have had the honor for 25 years to give the Lambert Award to the honoree. Almost all in the Stone Room. Woo woo to that!



4 Stamp Mill

Moira McLaughlin

Moira McLaughlin

The four stamp mill in front of the Miners Foundry building is a wonderful example of how a community working together can preserve its history.

The Stamp Mill

Kat Alves Photography

In 1991, the parts from a gold stamping mill were donated to the Miners Foundry.  The parts had originally belonged to the donor’s grandfather.

The Native Sons of the Golden West accepted the challenge of restoring the parts and reassembling the mill.  The iron parts of the mill had endured the passing years well, while the wooden timbers disintegrated when the initial transfer to the Miners Foundry was attempted.

Using the dimensions of the iron parts, volunteers were able to ascertain the size of the original vertical timbers and horizontal beams.

By 2000, the project was complete and today the stamp mill greets visitors as they arrive at the Foundry.



Andrew & Chris

Andrew and Chris

Congratulations!  Best wishes to both of you on your special day! May the future be bright, and filled with all of the blessings and joys of life.

Cinematography by Kindlewood Films

Event Coordinating by Anything’s Possible Events & More

Catering by Wes Made

Andrew & Chris || Miners Foundry Nevada City from KindleWood Films on Vimeo.

Faces of the Foundry – Jesse Locks

Jesse Locks


The talented and spirited Director of the Nevada City Film Festival has a second role as the Marketing Director for the Miners Foundry.  Today Jesse Locks shares her thoughts on community connections, historical preservation, and the importance of sharing stories, plus a shout out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Are you originally from Nevada County?

Yes, born and raised, but I moved back to Nevada City in 2007 after being gone for ten years. During that time I went to college, lived up and down the West Coast while working in publishing.

How did you first discover the Miners Foundry?

The Miners Foundry has always been a huge part of my life. I remember the Seven Hills Medieval Feast, going to Fright Night (for the kids) and seeing bands like Cake perform, but I think the most profound show was the two night concert for Roger Hodgson’s Rites of Passage show.  I grew up with his daughter and son, and that was the first time I was part of a major event.

What were your initial impressions of the Foundry?

I’ve always loved the Miners Foundry. It feels like a second home.  Even today I walk through the halls and feel so connected to not only my personal past but that of my community’s. I have such respect for David and Charles and the many others who had the vision and foresight to protect this cultural and historic asset for future generations to enjoy.

How long have you been working for the Foundry?

I think it has been three years now.

What do you like the best about the Miners Foundry?

I love that so many different community and performing arts events happen under the roof of the Miners Foundry, but what I like best is that connection to the past. It is imperative for us to know where we come from to understand where we can or need to go. I love that the beautiful stone fireplace has warmed people for more than 150 years.

What are your favorite types of events at the Foundry? Why?

In addition to working for the Miners Foundry I work with several organizations that hold events (Nevada City Film Festival, Paul Emery, Music in the Mountains, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, etc) there as well plus I was one of the founders of the wildly successful Nevada City Craft Fairs and instrumental in bringing the Red Hot Chili Peppers to perform, but my favorite types of events are the student spelling bees. It is so much fun to have so many young people together at one time.

Do you have a funny or touching story to share about the Foundry?

Many year’s ago the Miners Foundry asked me to help produce a video for their 150th anniversary and part of a series of short films for Nevada County Arts. I had the opportunity to interview many individuals who were instrumental over the years including Alan Haley, Wyn Spiller, Ellen Davis, Paul Matson, and Charles Woods and Mike Nevius who have both passed away now. To listen to them all share their stories and their love of the building brought tears to my eyes and I felt this overwhelming responsibility to help protect and preserve the building. I think the only place in Nevada County that is more loved than the Miners Foundry is the Yuba River.



What advice would you give someone planning to attend an event at the Foundry?

Take the time to walk around the building and look at the various artifacts and relics, read the signage and soak in the history, because there is no other place like it in the world.

Would you encourage others to become involved with the Miners Foundry? Why?

Absolutely, as a community entrusted with these beautiful historic buildings we must get involved in the continued preservation and up keep of them, and that includes donating one’s time or talents and definitely becoming a member.


Charles & David

Charles & David - Front of AVM

Calling all Nevada County history buffs!  We’re hoping someone can tell us the back story of this great photo.  If you know, please send an email to kat@minersfoundry.org

As the origins of the photo are murky for now, consider it a Happy Easter from the Miners Foundry, throw back Thursday style!


Alysha & Jackson

Faces of the Foundry – Nick Ggem

Nick Ggem

It’s tough to capture a photo of Nick Ggem at the Miners Foundry, as he’s always in motion.  Regular visitors to the building, however, are very familiar with his quick smile and calm demeanor.  Here he reveals his stage diving past, a melt your heart wedding moment, and his behind the scenes advice to anyone planning a Foundry event.


Are you originally from Nevada County?  Why did you decide to move to Nevada County?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles.  I came to here to disappear.  Ha!

How did you first discover the Foundry?

I came to see a punk show in 1992, I believe.  There may have been stage diving…

What were your initial impressions of the Foundry?

I thought it was a funky, rustic little venue that perfectly suited this town.

How long have you been working at the Foundry?

A few years.

What do you like best about the Miners Foundry?

The Foundry is a place where art and culture are consistently appreciated by locals and visitors.

What are your favorite types of events at the Foundry?

Tough to pick one… but I think my favorites are the outdoor First Friday Art Walk concerts in summer.  Long summer evenings, music, wine, people… what’s not to love?

Do you have a story to share about an event at the Foundry?

I was in the kitchen when a bride and groom came in after their wedding ceremony.  They were in each other’s arms, giggling, saying “I can’t believe we did it!”  They looked like kids on Christmas morning.  They didn’t see me, but I’ll never forget the genuine, blissful look of pure happiness on their faces.  I think I got something in my eyes after that one…

What advice would you give clients planning an event at the Foundry? 

Ask staff such as myself, Kat, and Gretchen questions, and tell us what you are planning.  There is a good chance we could make suggestions on how to make your event smoother.


The Pelton Wheel

Pelton Wheel

Invented in the 1870s by Lester Allan Pelton, the Pelton Wheel revolutionized hydro-power and hydroelectricity.

Manufactured at the Miners Foundry, the Pelton Wheel is an impulse type water turbine which extracted energy from moving water, as opposed to water’s dead weight.

Pelton Wheel

Pelton Wheel

The paddle geometry design used by Pelton meant when the rim ran at half the speed of the water jet, the water left the wheel with very little speed extracting almost all of the water’s impulse energy.

There are a number of Pelton Wheels on display at the Miners Foundry and around Nevada City.  The floor of the Upper Gallery is decorated in honor of the largest single pour of  a Pelton Wheel in history.


Boudoir @ the Foundry

View More: http://savvykayphotography.pass.us/miners-foundry-boudoir

Have you been considering a boudoir photography session?  They aren’t just for the bedroom any more!

Photography by Savvy Kay Photography

Styled by Savvy Kay

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The Stone Hall

Stone Hall entrance

Built in 1859, the Stone Hall is the oldest section of the historic Miners Foundry.  The Foundry has always moved in conjunction with Nevada City, adapting its use to serve the community for the last 160 years.  Initially named Nevada in reference to the snow capped mountains surrounding the area, Nevada City was incorporated in 1856.  As Nevada City grew to become the most important gold mining town in the state of California, businesses to serve the mines grew with it.

Kat Alves Photography

Kat Alves Photography

In an effort to prevent the roaring fires continually ravaging the city (seven times by one estimate), one of the first ordinances passed by the City of Nevada City stated the Foundry must be outside the city limits.  The area presently known as 325 Spring Street was outside of the City limits in 1859.  Using native stone and local timber, the Stone Hall was built to withstand the fires used to manufacture parts for the gold mines.


Kristen & Brian

Faces of the Foundry – Jeffrey Dupra

Jeffrey Dupra


Jeffrey Dupra could be described as a true Renaissance man of Nevada County.  A talented writer, artist, performer, and musician, he generously spends much of his time volunteering for many local organizations, including the Miners Foundry.   Today he shares his love of the Yuba, history, and Iris Dement.

Are you originally from Nevada County?  If not, why did you decide to move to Nevada County?  Where are you from originally? 

I am from Rochester New York originally. I discovered Nevada County via a teammate on my College Track and Field team who was from Grass Valley. One look at the Yuba River and I knew I was coming back.

How did you first discover the Miners Foundry?

The first time I ever set foot inside the Foundry I saw a Michael Franti and Spearhead show, about the best introduction one could have.

What were your initial impressions of the Foundry?   

I love history- particularly living history as embodied by the Foundry; it was a beautiful old building with great energy and on the night I first saw it the Foundry was filled to the roof with beautiful people.

What do you like the best about the Miners Foundry?

The Foundry holds an energy and a place in the Nevada City community that is inspiring and accessible; my favorite thing about the Foundry is that it is available as an artist, to rehearse, to practice, to create.

How did you become involved with Beyond Fire Tribe?

Along with Jesse Churchill, Aeron Miller, Isaiah Duseljee, and Jessica Wadatz, I am one of the OG members of the tribe. We started as a small, close group of friends who liked to burn.

What types of Foundry events do you most enjoy? 

The Foundry is a great place for diversity; personal favorites include Burnal Equinox, Iris Dement, Greg Brown, and the Psychic Fair and Fright Night.

Would you encourage others to become involved with the Miners Foundry?  Why? 

The Foundry is a hub for creativity, art, expression, and is a great place to be, feel, and get connected to the community at large, so  YES- I would encourage anyone to step in and be involved in whatever capacity fits their vision and need for creative outlet. I would recommend that people volunteer at the Foundry. There is a palpable sense of creativity in our community and performing and creating artistically is just one part of this whole- volunteering supports others doing the same thing and really gives a sense of investment and responsibility in not just creating that vibe but sustaining it as well.