History of Mokelumne Hill
Brought to you by the Mokelumne Hill History Society.
With the discovery of gold in Coloma in January 1848, the rush to the Mokelumne River was soon underway. Riches along the watercourse were concentrated at Big Bar (present Highway 49 crossing), Middle Bar, and on “The Hill.” Here a permanent settlement grew around tent stores and bars, with stone buildings being erected by the early 1850s. A devastating fire in 1854 prompted more construction in rhyolite, the distinctive volcanic stone quarried nearby.
The largest town in Calaveras County, Mokelumne Hill served as the County Seat from 1852 to 1866. The cosmopolitan population contained large numbers of French, German, Chinese, and Italian, along with immigrants from the Eastern States. Water arrived by canal, while stages connected the town to Stockton and ships completed the link to San Francisco.
With the decline of “free” placer gold by the 1860s, the town declined, subsisting on an agricultural economy. Hard-rock mining boosted incomes around 1900 and helped the region weather the Great Depression of the 1930s. Mokelumne Hill’s historic charm and small town character is preserved by its location, surrounded by active family cattle ranches which stave off development.
Use the links below for additional histories.
- Archaeology at the Mary Wilborn History Garden
- Cemeteries: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Jesus Maria
- Center and Main Streets
- Chinese Tombstones
- Designated Historic Buildings
- Hotel Leger
- Old Newspaper Articles
- Photographer Edith Irvine (1884-1949)
- Simon Foorman and the MHCS Ditch Co.
- Town Hall Follies 1957-1960
- Town Hall History
- Town Reservoir