Rabbit Creek Hotel Monument (No. 213 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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Today, miners still pan for gold in historic Rabbit Creek. The Rabbit Creek Hotel Monument is located in the small community of La Porte, completely surrounded by mountains. La Porte, as it is called today, was one of the most important settlements of its day in Southern Plumas County.
Gold was discovered here in 1850. In the fall of 1852, Eli S. Lester built the Rabbit Creek Hotel as the first permanent structure in town. Lester was the town’s first postmaster and is credited with introducing the miners to the practice of hydraulic mining.
La Porte was named Rabbit Creek until 1857 when town residents decided to change the name to La Porte. Frank Everts ran the main express office in town and the story goes that people wanted to be on his good side. They named the town La Porte because that was the name of Everts hometown in Indiana.
Today La Porte is a great weekend or vacation getaway community that features areas for hiking, fishing, nature walks and bicycling. A number of historic sites and cemeteries are located within walking distance of the Rabbit Creek Hotel Monument. The walking tour of Historic Rabbit Creek begins at the Union Hotel, proceeds to the Rabbit Creek Hotel and continues on past 12 other historic buildings and monuments. The Coyote Hotel is located across the street. The Union Hotel and Sierra Retreat is located nearby. Visitors can waterski in the Grass Valley Reservoir, three miles from the hotel.
Chinese immigrants also came to La Porte during the Gold Rush to mine. More than 250 arrived by the 1870s. The Chinese neighborhood consisted of a mercantile store, hospital, lodging houses, opium houses and cemeteries. Since the Chinese preferred homeland burials, the Chinese often transported their deceased family members back to their homeland for burial in towns throughout the Mother Lode.
Rabbit Creek Hotel Monument is located on the southwest corner of Main and Church Streets in La Porte.
El Rio de las Plumas, “The river of feathers,” lends its name to Plumas County. Captain Luis Arguello named the river, having been impressed by the many floating feathers on the water. Plumas County also contains Beckwourth Pass, the lowest summit of the High Sierra, which quickly became a favorite route of wagon trains.
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