Elizabethtown (No. 231 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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Today all that remains of Elizabethtown is the historic marker. The town was first called Tate’s Ravine, named by Alex and Frank Tate, who discovered gold there. The town grew from the original 10 to 15 families who arrived in 1852 in a wagon train to 2,500 gold-seeking residents by 1856. The town later changed its name in honor of the only unmarried woman in town, Elizabeth Stark Blakesley. Settlers arrived in Elizabethtown via the Beckwourth Pass, named for the first pioneer in the valley, James Beckwourth.
More than 80 businesses had applied for business licenses by the town’s peak. The main street was lined with businesses and extended throughout the entire town. Elizabethtown featured the traditional “amenities” of Gold Rush towns: stores, two-story buildings, saloons, gambling houses, a guilded palace, mercantile shops, lodging and “eating houses.” The Sons of Temperance Society had more than 200 members.
The marker is located on a dirt road .4 mile northwest of State Highway 70 (P.M. 41.6) and 1.8 miles north of Quincy.
El Rio de las Plumas, “The river of feathers,” lends its name to Plumas County. Captain Luis Arguello named the river, having been impressed by the many floating feathers on the water. Plumas County also contains Beckwourth Pass, the lowest summit of the High Sierra, which quickly became a favorite route of wagon trains.
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