West Point was named by scout Kit Carson, who was searching for a pass over the Sierra. One emigrant road forked by Big Meadows - its north branch came directly to West Point, which was a thriving trading post prior to the gold discovery. Bret Harte, famous author, lived here for a time.
This monument was erected to the memory of pioneers of Sandy Gulch, 1849 trading center for miners of northeastern Calaveras County. The settlement, in an area that was home to many Miwok Indians, was named after the gulch where William and Dan Carsner found large nuggets of gold embedded in the coarse sands. Water for mining was brought from the middle fork of the Mokelumne River through Sandy Gulch and Kadish Ditches - quartz mining began in the early 1850s, and the first custom stamp mill in the district was located at the head of Sandy Gulch. School and election precincts were established early, and one of California's many Hangman's Trees stood near the center of town.
Settled by Mexicans in 1848 and named after the Catholic parish St. Andres, the town has been a noted mining camp since early days. Gold from the surrounding ancient river channels and placer mines contributed greatly to the success of the Union during the Civil War. The first newspaper was published here on September 24, 1846. Destroyed by fire June 4, 1858, and in 1863, San Andreas became the seat of Calaveras County in 1866. It was said to be a rendezvous for Joaquin Murieta - notorious stage robber Black Bart was tried here and sent to prison.
Location: NW corner of State Hwy 49 and Main St, San Andreas
In 1885 the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad Company completed a narrow-gauge railroad from Brack's Landing to Valley Springs. The line eventually became the property of Southern Pacific Company, and a standard-gauge line into Valley Springs was substituted.
Location: At intersection of State Hwys 12 and 26, Valley Springs
The Mokelumne River was mined at this point in 1848. Established in 1840, the Whale Boat Ferry operated until the first bridge was built, about 1852.
Location: On State Hwy 49 (P.M. 0.0) at county line, 4.0 mi S of Jackson
Calaveritas, settled in 1849 by Mexicans, was a flourishing mining town complete with stores, saloons, gambling houses, and fandango halls, the latter two said to be frequented by Joaquin Murieta. The town was destroyed by fire in 1858.
Location: On Calaveras Rd at Costa Rd, 4.5 mi SE of San Andreas
Once called Limerick, the town became Camanche (after Camanche, Iowa) in 1849. Rich mining at nearby Cat Camp, Poverty Bar, and Sand Hill brought its population to a peak of 1,500. Mokelumne River water was brought in by Lancha Plana and Poverty Bar Ditch. A fire on June 21, 1873 destroyed Camanche's large Chinatown. Buhach, an insect powder made from a plant, was manufactured on the nearby Hill Ranch. Camanche is now inundated by Camanche Reservoir.
Location: South Camanche Shore Park, picnic area near south entrance, Camanche Parkway South, 3.0 mi NW of Burson
This is said to be California's first three-story building to be erected outside the coastal towns. The original building was erected in 1854 as a two-story building - a third story to be used for lodge purposes was added later.
Location: NE corner of Main and Center Sts, Mokelumne
Campo Seco was settled in 1849 by Mexicans who worked placers in Oregon Gulch. The largest living cork oak tree in California was planted here in 1858. The iron doors of the ruined Adams Express Building were still standing in 1950.
Location: Intersection of Campo Seco and Penn Mine Rds, Campo Seco
Located on the Stockton-Murphys Road at a crossing of the Calaveras River, this early mining settlement, once called Foremans, was famous in the 1850s for its rich placer ores. Later, as an important stage and freighting depot, it served the southern mines until after the turn of the century.
Location: On State Hwy 49 (P.M. 14.0) at San Antonio Creek, 5 mi S of San Andreas
Completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1871 marked the birth of the town of Milton. Named after Milton Latham, one of the railroad construction engineers, this town was the first in Calaveras County to have a railroad. Freight and passengers continued their journeys to other parts of Calaveras County by wagon and stagecoach.
Location: 15 mi NW of Copperopolis via Rock Creek Rd, County Road J14, and Milton
The Congregational Church in Mokelumne Hill was organized August 28, 1853. The church building, erected in 1856, is the oldest Congregational Church building in the state.
Location: NE corner of Main and Church Sts, Mokelumne Hill
Stone Corral, consisting of a hotel, barns, and the large corrals for which it was named, was one of the stopping places on the road from the mines to Stockton.
Location: Stone Corral Ranch, on State Hwy 26 (P.M. 0.8), 9.5 mi SW of Valley Springs
This five-mile gulch was the richest placer mining section in Calaveras County. It received its name from Chileans who worked it in1848
and 1849 and was the scene of the so-called Chilean War. The largest known quartz crystals were recovered from a mine on the south side of the gulch.
Location: On State Hwy 49 (P.M. 26.4), 1.4 mi S of Mokelumne Hill
Founded February 18, 1850, Double Springs was once the seat of Calaveras County. The old courthouse, said to be constructed of lumber brought from China, is still standing, but not on its original site.
Location: On Double Springs Rd, 3.6 mi E of Valley Springs
Jenny Lind, located on the north bank of the Calaveras River, was a placer mining town as early as 1849. Most of the placer mining was done along the hillsides above the river - later the river was mined with dredgers. In 1864 the population was said to be 400, half of them Chinese.
Location: On Milton Rd, County Road J1 4, 8 mi SW of Valley Springs
This is one of the oldest hotels still operating in California. First called the Sperry and Perry Hotel, it was opened by James L. Sperry and John Perry on August 20, 1856. Henry Atwood was its proprietor in 1881 - later, ownership passed to Harvey Blood. Renamed the Mitchler Hotel in 1882, and the Murphys Hotel in 1945 by the McKimins family, it was bought by a College of the Pacific group in 1963.
Location: 457 Main at Algiers St, Murphys
This pioneer cemetery was said to have been established in 1851. Most of the graves are unmarked - stones appeared over only three of them in 1936. This cemetery is located almost opposite where the town of North Branch originally stood, before the site was mined for gold.
Location: On State Hwy 12 (P.M. 176), 0.7 mi W of junction with State Hwy 49, 1.8 mi W of San Andreas
Mokelumne is an Indian word, first applied to the nearby river. Earliest settlement was at Happy Valley by French trappers. Gold was discovered by discharged members of Stevenson's Regiment in 1848. Mokelumne Hill was the center of the richest placer mining section of Calaveras County and one of the principal mining towns of California. Corral Flat produced over thirty million in gold. Sixteen feet square constituted a claim. The so-called 'French War' for possession of gold mines occurred in 1851. 'Calaveras Chronicle' was established in 1850. Fights between grizzly bears and bulls amused early residents. The town was destroyed by fires in 1854, 1864, and 1874. County seat of Calaveras County from 1853 to 1866.
Location: SW corner of Main and Center Sts, Mokelumne Hill
Douglas Flat was a roaring mining camp of the early 1850s. In 1857 the Harper and Lone Star Claims produced $130,000 worth of gold. The so-called Central Hill Channel, an ancient river deposit from which vast quantities of gold have been taken, is located here.
Location: On State Hwy 4 (P.M. 275), Douglas Flat
This mining camp of the early 1850s was almost totally destroyed by fire on August 28, 1859. Nearby is Moaning Cave, which the Indians used as a burial ground.
Location: On State Hwy 4 (P.M. 25.6), Vallecito
Gold was discovered in the creek just below here in 1848 by James H. Carson, whose name was given to the creek, hill, and town. In November 1854 the largest gold nugget in California, weighing 195 pounds troy, was found. It was worth $43,000 at that time.
Location: On State Hwy 4 (P.M. 3.3), 3.7 mi S of Angels Camp on Hwy 49
One of the principal mining communities in Calaveras County, Murphys was named for the discoverer of gold on the flat in 1849. The objective of many immigrants coming over the Sierras by Ebbetts Pass, Murphys Flat and surrounding mines produced 20,000,000 dollars in gold. Early regulations restricted claims to 8 ft. square. A suspension flume conveying water across Murphys Creek and drainage race draining the flat were two outstanding accomplishments of early day miners. The business portion of town was destroyed by fire August 20, 1859. Joaquin Murieta bandit is said to have begun his murderous career here. Calaveras Light Guards recruiting for Civil War, organized here on May 4, 1861.
Location: Intersection of Main and Jones Sts, Murphys
In 1848 John W. Robinson and Stephen Mead established ferry transport for freight, animals and persons across river. In 1856 Harvey Wood purchased interest and later acquired property which was maintained by Wood Family until 1911. Charges were 50 cents for each passenger, horse, jenny or another animal.
Location: Vista point on State Hwy 49 (P.M. 0.6), 5.4 mi S of Angels Camp
Glencoe was formerly called Mosquito Gulch. The business portion of the town was on the north side of Mosquito Gulch, but not one of the old buildings remains. The mines were first worked by the Mexicans in the early 1850s - quartz mining predominated but there was some placer mining.
Location: On State Hwy 26 (P.M. 26.2), Glencoe
In 1852 a chain cable bridge replaced the ferries that once crossed here, to be supplanted in its turn by a covered truss structure in 1862. Some writers claimed this was the locale of Bret Harte's Poker Flat. In late '49 there was a large camp here, with miners washing gold out on both banks of the Stanislaus River.
Location: On County Hwy 48 (P.M. 0.3), O'Byrne Ferry Rd, 71 mi SE of Copperopolis
Patented as a townsite in 1872, this early town derived its name from a sawmill located here. Mountain Ranch, the post office established in 1856, was moved to El Dorado in 1868, so El Dorado became known as Mountain Ranch. The bell was used in the local school from 1885 to 1953. Established as Cave City School District in 1855, this school joined with the Banner District in 1946 to become the El Dorado Union Elementary School District.
Location: NW corner of Mountain Ranch Rd and Whiskey Slide Rd, Mountain Ranch
The town, center of a large placer mining section, was named for a Mexican who raised vegetables and melons for the miners. It was settled in the early 1850s with a large population of Mexicans, French, Chileans, and Italians.
Location: On Jesus Maria Rd, County Road 27 (P.M. 10.2), 4.9 mi SE of Mokelumne Hill
This historic mining town, elevation 2,600 feet, was named after primitive mule-drawn ore cars used here. It was the site of an Indian council as well as the center of rich placer and quartz mining. Its largest producer was the Petticoat Mine. The post office was established in 1857, and the Edwin Taylor store built in 1867. The town's population was decimated in 1880 by black fever.
Location: NE of intersection of Rail Road (County Road 13) and Summit Level Rds, 0.5 mi W of post office, Rail Road Flat
Founded in 1849 by George Angel, who established a mining camp and trading store 200 feet below this marker, this was in a rich gravel mining area that was also one of the richest quartz mining sections of the Mother Lode-production records reached over $100 million for Angels Camp and vicinity. Prominent in early-day California history, it was said to be frequented by Joaquin Murieta, Black Bart, and other early-day bandits, and was the locale of Mark Twain's famous story, The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Location: NE corner of Main St and Birds Way, Angels Camp
The history of Altaville is closely identified with that of Angels Camp. Altaville has been the foundry town of Calaveras County since D. D. Demerest established a foundry there in 1854. Most of the stamp mills and a large part of the mining machinery erected in Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties were built at the Altaville Foundry. A brick schoolhouse was built at Altaville in 1858 and the townsite was established in 1873.
Location: Intersection of State Hwys 49 and 4, Altaville
Gwin Mine, Paloma, and Lower Rich Gulch were mined for placer gold in 1849, and quartz was discovered by J. Alexander in 1851. Property here was acquired by Wm. M. Gwin, California's first U.S. Senator, in 1851. After yielding millions of dollars in gold, the Gwin Mine closed in 1908.
Location: Intersection of Paloma Rd and Edster St, 5 mi SW of Mokelumne Hill
W. K. Reed and Thomas McCarty discovered copper here in 1860. The mines were utilized during the Civil War, when they were the principal copper producing section of the United States, and World Wars I and II.
Location: State Dept of Forestry Station, 375 Main St, Copperopolis
Named 'Little Valley' by Mexicans, Vallecito was one of California's important early-day mining towns. Gold was discovered here by the Murphy brothers in 1849, and it was originally called 'Murphy's old diggings.' This bell, cast at Troy, New York in 1853, was brought around the horn. It was purchased from the ship with funds contributed by early-day residents and brought to Vallecito to be erected in a large oak tree in 1854. It was used to call the people together until February 16, 1939, when a severe wind blew the old tree down.
Location: Intersection of Church St and Cemetery Ln, Vallecito
A thriving mining camp on rich Pennsylvania Gulch in the 1850s and 1860s, the camp was named for Alfred Brown, former owner of Table Mountain Ranch. Laws of the Brownsville mining district provided that each miner could own one wet and one dry claim, not to exceed 150 square feet each.
Location: On Pennsylvania Gulch Rd, 0.9 mi SW of Murphys
Constructed by Peter L. Traver in 1856, this is the oldest stone building in Murphys. Its iron shutters and sand on the roof protected it from the fires of 1859, 1874, and 1893. It served as a general store, a Wells Fargo office, and later a garage.
Location: 470 Main St, Murphys
This brick building, erected in 1848 with funds raised by a dance in the Billiard Saloon of the N.R. Prince Building (which still stands, 1955) is one of the oldest schools of California. It was in use until 1950, when it was replaced by the Mark Twain Elementary School in Altaville.
Location: Division of Forestry Station, 125 N Main St, Altaville
A portion of this building served as the Calaveras County Courthouse from 1852 to 1866, when the county seat was removed to San Andreas. George W. Leger then acquired the court building and made it a part of his adjoining hotel, which has been in operation since early gold mining days - it was known as the Grand Hotel in 1874 when fire damaged it and destroyed its dance hall. Restored in 1879, it has since been known as the Leger Hotel.
Location: SE corner of Main and Lafayette Sts, Mokelumne Hill
The canvas hotel that C. C. Lake erected here in 1851 was replaced by a one-story wooden structure, and then in 1855 by one of stone - a second story was added in 1857. It was here that Samuel Clemens first heard the yarn that was later to bring him fame as Mark Twain, author of The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Location: NE corner of Main Stand Bird Way, Angels Camp
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: NPS-72000220
This structure was erected in 1852 by B. R. Prince and G. Garibardi for a general merchandise business. Improved in 1857 with living quarters on the second floor, it is still used for living and warehouse purposes.
Location: 298 S Main St, near Hwy 4 junction, Altaville
The Stevenot family established the borax industry in California - Archie Stevenot was proclaimed 'Mr. Mother Lode' by resolution of the 1961 session of the State Legislature. Not only he but his father and grandfather lent fame to the Carson Hill region of California.
Location: On State Hwy 4 (P.M. 3.3), 3.7 mi S of Angels Camp
The historical significance of California Caverns is well established as a major cavern system and as one of the earliest officially recorded caves (1850) in the Mother Lode region of California. The early commercial enterprise associated with California Caverns is evidenced by the historical documents verifying organized tourist activities as early as 1854. Although one of numerous caves in the Mother Lode region, California Caverns claims the distinction of having the most extensive system of caverns and passageways.
Location: Cave City Rd, approx 4 mi from Mountain Ranch Rd via Michel Rd, 11 mi E of Hwy 49 in San Andreas