This is the town that time forgot, a hidden treasure, far away from highway 49. Most who live there like it just that way. Historians can’t seem to agree on the population of “Moke Hill” during the height of the gold rush. Reports ranged from 10,000 to 16,000. Today there are about 800. Our Map of ‘Moke’ Hill
A portion of the Leger Hotel served as the Calaveras County Courthouse from 1852 to 1866. Then the county seat was removed to San Andreas. George W. Leger acquired the court building and made it a part of his adjoining hotel, which has been in operation since early gold mining days – it was known as the Grand Hotel in 1874 when fire damaged it and destroyed its dance hall. Restored in 1879, it has since been known as the Leger Hotel. Some claims have been made that it is haunted.
On the NE corner of Main and Center street is the I.O.O.F. hall. It was said to be California’s first three-story building outside the coastal towns. The first two-stories were built in 1854 and a third story, used for lodge purposes, was added later.
Huge gold nuggets were found in the area, in fact gold was so abundant claims of land were divided in to tiny plots of 16-50 feet. The largest known quartz crystals were recovered from a mine on the south side of Chili Gulch.
History of Mokelumne Hill
Mokelumne is an Indian word, first applied to the nearby river. Earliest settlement was at Happy Valley by French trappers. In 1848 gold was discovered by discharged members of Stevenson’s Regiment, New Yorkers who fought in the Mexican war.
Mokelumne Hill was the center of the richest placer mining section of Calaveras County and one of the principal mining towns of California. Corral Flat produced over thirty millions in gold. Sixteen feet square constituted a claim. The so-called ‘French War’ for possession of gold mines occurred in 1851. For more about other gold finds see the rock hounding section in the recreation guide.
1.4 miles South of Mokelumne Hill on Highway 49 is a marker designating Chili Gulch. This five-mile gulch was the richest placer mining section in Calaveras County. It received its name from Chileans who worked it in 1848 and 1849, and was the scene of the so-called Chilean War. In December 1849, Anglo-European miners in Calaveras County drew up a local mining code that called for all foreign miners to leave the country within 15 days, leading to much protest and violence. The so-called “Chilean War” resulted in several deaths and the expulsion of Chilean miners from their claims.
‘Calaveras Chronicle’ was established in 1850. The early newspaper tells of robberies, murders, and all manner of human difficulties associated with people living under trying conditions. Fights between grizzly bears and bulls amused early residents. The diarist Byron MCKinstry saw such an encounter in 1852 in front of 400 persons. The bear won. On another occasion, two bulls were to take on a single grizzly bear. The bear, “General Scott”, was estimated to weigh 1200 pounds and quickly and severely injured both bulls. Historical stories about the area by David P.
Mokelumne Hill Zip Code: 95245
US Post Office –
8331 South Main Street
19925 Jesus Maria Road