Middle Bar (No. 36 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 Mokelumne River was known to rise 20 feet in as little as 24 hours. Two bridges were built in ten years – a second to replace the first – and they both floated away during severe flooding.
As river traffic increased during the Gold Rush era, beginning in 1850 residents supported the need to invest in a bridge across the Mokelumne River. In 1851 a new bridge linked the well worn trails throughout Amador County that later become paved roads. Once the bridge was built, Amador County for the first time, had a genuine “road transportation system.”
The first bridge lasted a year until it washed downstream in a flood. A year later, in 1852, a second bridge was built sitting higher off the ground to minimize the risk of it being washed away. The bridge stood for ten years until a severe flood during the winter of 1862 tore the bridge from its foundation and washed it downstream, along with significant sections of the hillside. The Middle Bar Bridge that visitors drive on today had remained stable for many and is an excellent example of early 1900s bridge architecture.
The community of Middle Bar was located two miles below Big Bar (another historical landmark site). The place where Middle Bar used to be is now buried by the Pardee Reservoir. For additional information about the Mokelumne River, see Mokelumne River Electra-Middle Bar Run.
The historical marker is located 2.8 miles south of State Highway 49 (P.M. 2.5) on Middle Bar Road at Mokelumne River, 4.5 miles south of Jackson.
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.
Time Period Represented