Milton (No. 262 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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Completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1871 marked the birth of the town of Milton. Named after Milton Latham, one of the railroad's construction financiers, this town was the first in Calaveras County to have a railroad. Freight and passengers continued their journeys to other parts of Calaveras County by wagon and stagecoach.
The town was created after the construction of the rail line known as the Stockton-Copperopolis Railroad and was the terminus for this line. In the late 1880s, Milton was one of Calaveras County's liveliest towns. The rail line from Stockton was originally planned to be extended to Copperopolis, but the market for copper declined after the Civil War and hampered long-term growth in Milton. Rail service declined until it was discontinued in the 1940s.
Today remnants are left of the town, including a Masonic Hall and the Milton Masonic Cemetery. The Milton Masonic Keystone Lodge No. 161 is still in use, and remains in good condition. It was constructed in 1871 as a saloon and later became a town hall before being purchased by the Masonic Lodge in 1881, and was moved from Copperopolis to Milton. In 1962, the Grand Lodge F. &A. M. of California erected a marker. The maker is located in Milton, at the intersection of Flint Street and Milton Road, on the right when traveling north of Flint Street. A map to the marker can be found here. The inscription on the marker reads:
"Keystone Lodge No. 161, F. & A.M., instituted in Copperopolis Dec. 19. 1982, at the height of the copper mining boom. Moved to 1881, to Milton, the terminal of the Stockton & Copperopolis Railroad, which, because of the collapse of copper mining, never reached its intended goal. Dedicated to those who sought to perpetuate the moral teachings of Freemasonry. To them we gratefully acknowledge our debt."
Milton Latham, the town's namesake, served as California's sixth governor in 1860 for a brief time- just five days- before filling in the Senate position as David Broderick's replacement after Broderick was shot in a duel. Latham's governorship has the distinction of being the shortest in California's history.
Milton is located 15 miles northwest of Copperopolis via Rock Creek Road, County Road J14.
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.
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