San Andreas (No. 252 California Historical Landmark)
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 San Andreas was named after the Catholic parish St. Andres when it was settled in 1848 by Mexicans. Originally a mining camp when gold was discovered in the placers, it was short lived until gold was found in the nearby river channels. The antiquated channel and placer mines played a role in the success of the Union during the Civil War. Because of the success in the channel, the camp soon became a profitable town, allowing it to rebuild after fires ravaged it in 1858 and 1863.
Along with its rich gold preserves, San Andreas became a breeding ground for bandits. San Andreas was said to be a rendezvous for Joaquin Murieta who was known as the Robin Hood of El Dorado. Legend has it that Murieta took part in illegal horse trading with Mexico and was occasionally known to be a bandit. Black Bart, born Charles Earl Bowles, was tried here and sent to prison. He was a notorious stage robber who would sometimes leave vulgar poems at his robberies, which was the only time he would ever curse. He brandished a gun, but never shot it and was terrified of horses so all of his robberies were on foot. He eventually turned himself in and was sentenced to six years in San Quentin. The courthouse he was tried in is now the Calaveras County Museum, which houses many exhibits and collections. It also has the cell where Black Bart was held before his trial.
The historical marker is located on the corner of Highway 49 and Main Street.
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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