Camanche (No. 254 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 1800’s 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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Once called Limerick for the numerous Irish immigrants who settled there, 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 nearby Hill Ranch. Camanche and nearby Lancha Plana, and Poverty Bar are now inundated by Camanche Reservoir, which was created in 1963 following the construction of Camanche Dam on the Mokelumne River by the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
Though there are no remains of the former settlement, a historical marker and plaque dedicated in 1956 has been placed a mile and a half east of where the town site was located. Today, Camanche Reservoir is a popular camping and water recreation area.
The marker is located at the South Camanche Shore Park picnic area near the south entrance, Camanche Parkway South, 3 miles northwest of Burson.
Along with Mark Twain's famous "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" story that spun into an annual fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, Calaveras County is rich with Gold Rush history and folklore. Remnants of the railroads and Hispanic culture add to the charm of the county located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a preserve of Giant Sequoia trees, and the uncommon telluride mineral Calaverite was discovered in the county in 1861, and is named for it.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are welcome with an additional fee.
Time Period Represented
5:00 am - 11:00 pm
Day Use Rate at Lake Camanche is $12 per car in the on-season and $7.50 in the off-season. Additional use fees are required for fishing and boat launching.