Lancha Plana (No. 30 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. 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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The town of Lancha Plana is now buried under the Camanche River, although the bridge that crosses the Mokelumne River is located where the town once stood. The Camanche camp was a hard rock mining site, west of Lancha Plana. This camp was also inundated by water in the 1960s.
Lancha Plana means “flat boat” in Spanish. Mexicans first settled the area in 1848 and named it Sonora Bar. The camp was later renamed because of the flat boat ferry that crossed the north bank of the Mokelumne River, 9 miles south of Ione. The creek was mined during the early days of the Gold Rush. The population of Lancha Plana swelled to 1,000 by 1858. Years later, when Chinese immigrants settled in, they found gold underneath the foundation of what is now called the Buena Vista store. Miners agreed to move the store six miles to the north to the town of Buena Vista, so the gold underneath could be mined. The store was renamed after it was moved.
The town grew large enough to support a newspaper. On March 3, 1860, the Lancha Plana Dispatch began circulating. By November the newspaper moved to Jackson, the Amador County seat, and became the Amador Dispatch.
The Mokelumne River was continuously dredged from 1904 to 1923 and resumed during the 1930s and 1951. The terraced hillsides are evidence of the extensive hydraulic mining.
Although the towns of both Lancha Plana and Camanche are long gone, today, nearly half a million people enjoy the Camanche Recreation Area to camp, fish and engage in various water sports.
The historical marker is located on the north short of the Camanche Reservoir, one mile west of County Line Bridge on Lancha Plana Buena Vista Road.
Amador County was one of the most productive of the “Mother Lode” counties. The mine shafts were reported to be among the deepest in the world. Mining continues in select areas today. The eastern slope of Amador County begins at Kirkwood’s historic stage stop known today as the Kirkwood Inn. The relatively narrow county is aligned between the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers and roughly follows an important emigrant trail route. Gold rush camps and boomtowns abound in the history of the area. Amador County is also recognized for its dozens of vineyards and wineries.
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