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Carson Hill (No. 275 California Historic Landmark)

Historic Site or District
Richard Wisehart

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.

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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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 in that time. This nugget is one of the most famous nuggets to be discovered during the California Gold Rush.

Miners flocked to Carson Hill after gold was discovered here. Mexican miners in nearby Melones (not to be confused with the mining town now submerged by New Melones Lake and also known as Robinson's Ferry) had a very successful mine that was one considered the largest in California; this mine however only last one year. The Mexican miners from Melones provided knowledge of quartz mining to the whites who settled in Carson Hill.

Morgan Mine, the most famous mine in Carson Hill, produced approximately $3,000,000 of gold in its first two years of operations. When the mine closed in 1853 due to legal entanglements over ownership rights, the town of Carson Hill rapidly declined into a ghost town. The mine was re-opened in 1876 and closed again in 1884, and was not re-opened again until 1914 when it was bought by the Calaveras Consolidated Mining Company.

Morgan Mine was one of many successful mines in Carson Hill. Stamp mills were also prevalent in Carson Hill, including a twenty-stamp electric power mill built in 1903.

Mining operations in Carson Hill continue to today, but a decorative rock called mariposite is mined instead of gold by Carson Hill Rock Products. Today only a handful of people live in Carson Hill.

Carson Hill is located on State Highway 49, 3.5 miles south of Angels Camp and near New Melones Lake.

Calaveras County

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 gold telluride mineral Calaverite was discovered in the county in 1861, and is named for it.

Calaveras is a Spanish word meaning "skull." The name was first given to the river because of the great quantities of human skulls found along the lower reaches of the river.

Calaveras County is famous for its lode and placer mines, and the largest gold nugget from the United States was taken from the Morgan Mine at Carson Hill in 1854, weighing 214 pounds. For many years it was the principal copper-producing county in California. Cement deposits from its vast limestone deposits has become one of the county's major industries in recent years.

Time Period Represented


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