Old Emigrant Road (No. 662 California Historical Landmarks)
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 Old Emigrant Road, known as Highway 88 today, began by winding a long loop around the Silver Lake Basin. At one point the road reached an elevation of more than 9,500 feet. The road was used between 1848 and 1863. A better road was built later that follows the course of the current highway.
Silver Lake is located off Highway 88 south of Lake Tahoe. The basin features spectacular scenery, camping, hiking trails, fishing and boating. Visitors will find Silver Lake an excellent spot for fishing.
Scenic Highway 88 is also referred to as the Carson Pass Highway. As it travels east from Stockton to the border of Nevada, it eventually merges with US Route 95. Travelers will find numerous points of interest along the way, including Maiden’s Grave, Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park and Kirkwood Mountain Resort. Carson Pass remains open through the winter, offering travelers a third major route through the mountains, in addition to Interstate 80 and Highway 50.
Silver Lake in Amador County is one of many recreation areas where visitors can enjoy beautiful scenery and excellent fishing.
The historical marker for the Old Emigrant Road is located on State Highway 88 at Mud Lake Road, 8.7 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. The relatively narrow county is aligned between the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers and roughly follows an important emigrant trail route. Gold rush camps and boom-towns abound in the history of the area. Amador County is also recognized for its dozens of vineyards and wineries.
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