Maiden's Grave (California Historical Landmark No. 28)
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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Maiden’s Grave was considered the true burial site of a young girl for more than 100 years until a local landowner made a surprising discovery. Rachel was moving west from Iowa with her family. She took ill and died in 1850 despite efforts to save her. In the early 1900s, her elderly mother returned to the site of her daughter’s death to find her grave. She was unsuccessful until guests at the Kirkwood Inn heard of Rachel’s death and directed her to a grave they saw had been marked 1850.
Guests at the Inn placed a stone marker at the site to remember the hardships of all pioneer families coming west. The site later became a historical landmark.
In 1986, the landowner of the meadow nearby Maiden’s Grave was clearing brush away and found a rock outline of a grave. Historians determined this was the Rachel’s true resting place. The question arose who was buried in Maiden’s Grave? The mystery was solved after determining that a young man had died suddenly the same year as Rachel and buried in Maiden’s Grave. State Highway 88 has moved several times due to highway realignment. No one knows the true burial site of the young man. Rachel’s grave is located two miles east of the historical landmark in a privately owned meadow nearby.
The historical marker for Maiden Grave is placed along Highway 88 at (P.M. 61.3), 10.5 miles west of Kirkwood.
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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