Douglas Flat (No. 272 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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Douglas Flat was a roaring mining camp of the early 1850s settled by Irish and Welsh immigrants. In 1857 the Harper and Lone Star Claims produced $130,000 worth of gold. The so-called Central Hill Channel beneath the Table Mountains, an ancient river deposit from which vast quantities of gold have been taken, is located here.
Other mining sites in Douglas Flat were at Coyote Creek, Pennsylvania Gulch, Wild Goose Gulch, and Missouri Gulch. Several gold companies, including a few Chinese companies, mined Coyote Creek in the late nineteenth century. Dredging, placer mining, shaft mining, and hydraulic mining were the common gold-extraction techniques of the day.
The town of Douglas Flat was small, and remains so today. In 1854, miners had built a small building to serve as a church and town hall, and later served as a school. By the 1860s, three stores had been established, including the Italian Store, a square stone building which still stands today.
S.A. Perry, one of the original owners of the historic Murphys Hotel, resided in Douglas Flat, where he owned an extensive orchard that grew apples, plums, figs, cherries, and apricots. In addition to mining, agriculture and ranching were large components of the economy of Douglas Flat.
Nearby Recreation Areas
Douglas Flat is located on State Highway 4 in Calaveras County, 6.4 miles northwest of Angels Camp and 1.8 miles south of Murphys.
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