Springfield (No. 432 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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Springfield, only a mile from Columbia, received little attention in historical records of Gold Country characters, stories and riches. However, the miners of Springfield carted away nearly $85 million of gold out of Columbia in the 1850s. The area was so rich with gold, residents recall as many as 150 carts filled with dirt moving along the road between Columbia and Springfield. Miners brought their carts to the creek to sift and wash the dirt to find the hidden gold nuggets.
The city was also one of only four communities in Tuolumne County to be incorporated during the Gold Rush era. Conflicting stories have surfaced regarding the founding of Springfield. Some accounts attribute Donna Josefa, who recruited people to populate the emerging community. Other area residents say the name came from periodic flooding of the meadows from Mormon Creek. That led to the name “Spring flooding the Field.”
Springfield offered its 2,000 residents an emerging infrastructure similar to other Gold Rush era towns. In 12 blocks, the town offered 200 lots and included a store, a saloon, a hotel, two churches, a school and a post office. Springfield set itself apart because residents also led a Temperance Society, debating society and a Cotillion Club. These societies added a unique cultural element for the young men and women, while protesting the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol and the many saloons where it was served was a mainstay of most Gold Rush towns throughout the Mother Lode.
This marker is included in the Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail, and the Native Sons/Daughters of the Golden West marker series. The marker is located at the intersection of Springfield Road and Horseshoe Bend Road, on the right when traveling west on Springfield Road, approximately ½ mile west of Parrott's Ferry Rd.
A treasure of natural wonders and lively gold rush history, Tuolumne County offers visitors vivid scenery. A portion of Yosemite National Park lies within the county, along with giant redwood groves and impressive geological features. Both Bret Harte and Mark Twain wrote stories set in this area during the Gold Rush.
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