Dog Town (No. 792 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.
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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In 1857—during the California Gold Rush—Dog Town became the site of the first gold rush to the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. Not long after rumors spread about “Mormons from Nevada washing out gold in Dog Creek near Mono Lake,” prospectors raced to this area. A small camp and trading center sprung up immediately, taking the name Dog Town; its name derived from a popular miner’s term for camps made of huts or hovels. A cemetery and ruins of the makeshift dwellings that once formed part of the “diggings” here are all that remain of this rugged, yet historically significant town.
Dog Town was said to have produced the largest gold nugget ever found on the Sierra’s eastern slope. However, its overall gold production was not extensive. "Here today, gone tomorrow" describes the booms and busts that were typical of the Gold Rush, and Dog Town was no exception. Within a couple years of its establishment, the town was abandoned as miners left in search of more profitable strikes. Nearby, the more appealing and profitable town of Monoville was booming, eventually expanding to a population of 700 pioneers.
Dog Town’s ruins and its commemorative plaque is located on Highway 395 at post mile 69.5 (7 miles south of Bridgeport.)
Mono County is a rugged—yet beautifully scenic—region of high desert and Sierra peaks that holds dearly a colorful mining history from the days of the California Gold Rush. It is said to have received its name from the term “Monache,” which was applied to the Native Americans inhabiting the region prior to settlement. Mono County was formed in 1861 from parts of Calaveras and Fresno county territory; however, its eastern boundary remained undetermined for several years. When lines were finally drawn in 1863, Mono County’s first county seat—Aurora—ended up in Nevada. Bridgeport became the new county seat, and remains in that position today. Home to historically important Gold Rush towns such as Bodie and Dog Town, remnants of pioneer mining activities can still be seen today.
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