Angels Camp (No. 287 California Historical Landmark)
Photo © westernmininghistory.com 4 Original Photography
Not only is Angels Camp famous for being the origin of one of Mark Twain’s earliest stories and for its annual Jumping Frog Jubilee, but for being the home of United States Ski Team member and two time Alpine Skiing World Cup Downhill Champion, Kyle Rasmussen!
It all started during the Mexican-American War, where George and Henry Angel were soldiers. They decided to give mining a shot when the big California Gold Rush fired up and soon decided the hard labor wasn’t for them. Instead, they launched a trading post to assist the other prospects. One thing led to another and the post turned into a camp and eventually a town which only lasted a few years until the placers ran dry.
A few years later it is rumored that a man named Bennegar Rasberry fired his gun into the ground when his muzzle loader became jammed. In doing so, revealed a large quartz vein loaded with gold! This vein was so massive; it began near the south end of Altaville and continued on Main Street all the way to Angels Creek. The mining of this vein lasted a few decades and produced around $20 million. There was over 200 stamp mills working furiously.
Angels Camp is home to the famous Angels Hotel where Mark Twain heard the story of Jim Smiley and his jumping frog that could not be beat! He thought this was hilarious and went back to the cabin he was residing in at the time and wrote the short story about it. The hotel still stands today and is the location of the “Frog Hop of Fame” where the winners’ commemorative plaques are placed in the sidewalk.
The marker is located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Birds Way. Don’t forget to visit the Angels Camp Museum and all the other nearby Historical Landmarks and neat places like Vallecito and Moaning Caverns.
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.
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 1800’s 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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Time Period Represented: Late 1800's