Mokelumne Hill Details
Status: Active Town
Date Settled: 1848
Current Population: 774
Peak Population: 15,000
Elevation: 1,474 Feet ( 449 meters)
Primary Mineral: Gold
Mokelumne Hill Description
Mokelumne Hill was one of the richest gold mining towns in California. Founded in 1848 by a group of Oregonians, the placers were so rich that the miners risked starvation rather than head to Stockton to replenish their supplies (one finally did and made it rich by becoming a merchant). Soon after, gold was discovered in the nearby hills, so much so that miners were restricted to claims of 16 square feet, and yet many of those claims were reported to have paid up to $20,000.
By 1850 the town was one of the largest in the area, with its population reaching as high as 15,000 with people of all nationalities: Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, Chileans, Mexicans, Chinese, and others. Besides racial tensions, the easy gold attracted criminal elements, and the town gained a reputation as one of the bawdiest in the area. Notorious bandit Joaquin Murietta is said to have been a frequent visitor to the gambling venues. Violence was a major problem as well. In 1851, there was at least one homicide a week for seventeen consecutive weeks. A "vigiliance committee" was formed and by 1852, the worst of the crime was eliminated. That year, the town became the county seat.
By the 1860s the gold started to run out and the town's population and importance diminished. When San Andreas became the new county seat in 1866, Mokelumne Hill's status declined even further. The town today is a quiet place, with lots of tourism due to its historic status.