This sign on La Porte Road welcomes visitors to Brownsville. Photo by queerbychoice. Brownsville is an unincorporated town in Yuba County. It is located southwest of Sharon Valley and Challenge, northwest of Greenville, north of Frenchtown, and northeast of Rackerby. It has a population of 1,225 (as of a 2009 estimate). Its elevation is 2,313 feet. The average annual rainfall is 62.5 inches and average annual snowfall is 15.8 inches. The average high temperature in July is 92.4°, and the average low temperature in January is 33.6°.

The native plant community of Brownsville is yellow pine forest with a high concentration of serpentine.

The U.S. Postal Service sometimes lists addresses in Frenchtown and Sharon Valley as being in Brownsville, because they are all in the 95919 zip code. However, on the Yuba-Sutter Wiki, we prefer listing the more specific locations.


As of a July 2007 estimate1, residents' median age was 50 years, the second-oldest in the Yuba-Sutter area (after Rackerby).

91.4% of residents were white and non-Hispanic, followed by 2.0% of residents who were Native American. Brownsville has the highest proportion of white non-Hispanic residents in the Yuba-Sutter region.

Of residents 25 or older, 83.0% had at least a high school degree, 17.4% had at least a bachelor's degree, and 10.4% had a graduate or professional degree. Brownsville has the highest proportion of residents with graduate or professional degrees in the Yuba-Sutter region.

Of residents 15 or older in Brownsville and nearby Challenge and Sharon Valley combined2, 54.6% were married, 19.2% had never married, 16.7% were divorced, 6.4% were widowed, and 3.1% were separated. The Challenge-Brownsville-Sharon Valley area has the highest proportion of divorced residents in the Yuba-Sutter region.

For employed Brownsville residents, the average travel time to work was 30.3 minutes. For Brownsville and nearby Challenge and Sharon Valley combined, the most common industries for males to work in were the construction industry (25%) and waste management services (15%). The most common industries for females to work in were education (28%); health care (19%); arts, entertainment, and recreation (16%); and utilities (10%). The Challenge-Brownsville-Sharon Valley area has an unusually high proportion of all of these career fields, compared to the rest of the Yuba-Sutter area.

The 2007 median annual household income in the Challenge-Brownsville-Sharon Valley area was $32,460 (the second-lowest in the Yuba-Sutter region, after Linda). The 2008 median home price in Brownsville was $175,930. 16.9% of residents in the Challenge-Brownsville-Sharon Valley area were below the poverty level in 2007, and 12.6% were below half the poverty level.


Brownsville is named for I. E. Brown, who built a sawmill there in 1851. The U.S. Postal Service establised the Brownsville Post Office in 1862. Brownsville was a "temperance town" in the late 19th century.3

The History of Yuba County, California (Chapter XXX: New York Township) by Thompson & West, 1879, described Brownsville this way:

The promising little town of Brownsville lies on the Central Turnpike, thirty-three miles from Marysville. I. E. Brown, who still lives near by, built a saw-mill here in August, 1851, at a cost of eight thousand dollars. In November, 1852, Martin Knox and P. E. Weeks bought the mill, and ran it under the firm name of Weeks & Knox. The mill was abandoned about 1857. In addition to the mill, Brown and his partner, John Hoyt, kept hotel in a log house. When Weeks & Knox bought them out they named the place Brownsville, in honor of Mr. Brown. In 1853, a store was started in connection with this hotel. In 1855, Weeks & Knox built a large hotel. The first blacksmith came in 1855, a man named Sheets. In 1861, the store was given up. The hotel was burned in 1866, and another built the same year. In 1878, there was quite an impetus given to the town. A large addition was made to the hotel, and educational institution was opened, a hall association formed, a store started and some fifteen thousand dollars expended in improvements. The Knoxdale Institute was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Knox. The school opened September 9, 1878, with Professor E. K. Hill as Principal. There were but five scholars when the school was opened, but this number was increased the second term to seventeen. The young ladies who attend this institute receive the same care and attention from Mrs. Knox that would be bestowed upon them by their mothers at home. The educational advantages offered by this institution, its healthful location and the watchful supervision of Mrs. Knox, will soon render it a favorite and prosperous school for young ladies.

The Knoxdale Institute, described in the excerpt above, remained open until about 1885.


May: Brownsville Bluegrass Festival June: Brownsville Bicycle Rodeo July: Brownsville Mountain Fair August: Country-Style Pig Roast and Flea Market September: Brownsville Blues Festival November: Foothill Auxiliary Holiday Bazaar


Places to Have Fun

Places to Eat or Drink

Places to Shop

Places to Worship

Other Places

Main Roads


Challenge-Brownsville entry on Wikipedia Sperling's Best Places: Brownsville City Data: Challenge-Brownsville, California


1. Sperling's Best Places: Brownsville
2. City Data: Challenge-Brownsville, California
3. Historic Spots in California: Fifth Edition by Douglas Kyle, Hero Rensch, Ethel Rensch, and Mildred Hoover. Stanford University Press, 2002