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Rail Road Flat (No. 286 California Historical Landmark)

Historic Site or District

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.

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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Rail Road Flat is a Gold Rush era mining town that was settled by gold seekers in 1849. The town was named for a wooden track which conveyed ore cars with waste rock to and from the diggings. It was the site of an Indian council as well as the center of rich placer and quartz mining. Its largest producer was the Petticoat Mine.

The post office was established in 1857, and the Edwin Taylor store was built in 1867. The first stamp mill was built in 1866, and by 1872 five or six mills were operating. The town's population was decimated in 1880 by Black Fever. By the end of the century, only two stamp mills and one arrastra were still in operation. A water conveyance system, Clark Ditch, was constructed to supply water to the mines and carried water from the South Fork of the Mokelumne River over 55 miles. Part of Clark Ditch was purchased in the 1930s by the Calaveras Public Utilities District. In 1976 Clark Ditch was converted to pipe.

The historic marker at Rail Road Flat is located at the north east intersection of Rail Road (County Road 13) and Summit Level Roads, 0.5 miles west of the post office in Rail Road Flat. and 12.5 miles south of Pioneer.

Calaveras County

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.

Calaveras is a Spanish word meaning "skull." The name was first given to the river because of the great quantities of human skulls found along the lower reaches of the river.

Calaveras County is famous for its lode and placer mines, and the largest gold nugget from the United States was taken from the Morgan Mine at Carson Hill in 1854, weighing 214 pounds. For many years it was the principal copper-producing county in California. Cement deposits from its vast limestone deposits has become one of the county's major industries in recent years.

Time Period Represented


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