Big Bar (No. 41 California Historical Landmark)
California Historical Landmarks Program
Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region
2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California
3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.
California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.
In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.
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The rushing Mokelumne River and the rugged canyon are all that remain of what was considered to be the first gold discovery site of Amador County in 1848. Big Bar was among the most abundant of discovery sites. Miners built cities virtually overnight as the population swelled with eager prospectors.
One of the old inns still stands at the Amador County end of the bridge. A Whale Boat ferry operated until the first bridge was built in 1852.
The newly opened Big Bar Launch Facility, operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a part of the Mokelumne River Whitewater Trail. Boaters will find ample parking, restrooms and an interpretive kiosk. A trail leads visitors down to the river. Area currents are suitable for boaters of all levels.
Electra Bar is considered the whitewater run. Boaters can drift with the current at both Big Bar and Middle Bar after an initial area of rapids.
The Historical Marker is located on State Highway 49, 4 miles of south of Jackson.
Amador County was one of the most productive of the “Mother Lode” counties. The mine shafts were reported to be among the deepest in the world. Mining continues in select areas today. The eastern slope of Amador County begins at Kirkwood’s historic stage stop known today as the Kirkwood Inn. The relatively narrow county is aligned between the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers and roughly follows an important emigrant trail route. Gold rush camps and boomtowns abound in the history of the area. Amador County is also recognized for its dozens of vineyards and wineries.
Time Period Represented