Plymouth Trading Post (No. 470 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 Plymouth evolved in a different way than other mining towns. There was not a single discovery of gold or a defining site that became the center of activity. The town was established in 1873, long after other mining camps had already become ghost towns. A single owner purchased and combined several small mining camps. He called his new company Plymouth after one of the mines in the area. The Trading Post was both the company headquarters and commissary for “Plymouth Consolidated."
An Office of Historic Preservation report on the landmark describes the Trading Post as “all windows and doors of cast iron, with gun ports still in some of the windows. Walls at the base are 30” thick…The beams in the basement are 12” x 12.” The basement was dynamited out of shale rock and the entire foundation is visible.” There were hitching posts at the building site at one time and a collection of mining equipment stored inside.
The Plymouth mine specifically produced more than $13.5 million in gold and continued to be worked until 1947. Mining camps worked much early, in 1852, produced quartz and other hard rock discoveries. The “Anti-Debris Act,” also called the Sawyer Decision, rendered in 1883 made hydraulic mining illegal. This decision affected mining camps throughout the Mother Lode dependent on this type of mining to extract gold. Hydraulic mining abruptly stopped. People moved on to other diggings and the places they left behind stood virtually abandoned.
Once gold mining was no longer a viable enterprise, the economic base of Amador County transformed to ranches and vineyards. Now grape vines blanket the Amador County hillsides. The D’Agostini Winery, located in Plymouth, is the oldest winery in California.
The historical marker is located on the main street of Plymouth.
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