Mormon Bar (No. 323 California Historical Landmark)
Photo © wrightwoodcalif.com
A group of Mormons arrived at the site eventually named Mormon Bar in 1849 in search land to farm and establish an encampment. They had been a part of a larger Mormon Battalion to fight a war with Mexico. The Mormons were soon chased out by gold miners eager to stake their claim, including thousands of Chinese immigrants. Mormon Bar became the largest Chinese community in Mariposa County, featuring a store, blacksmith shop, stores and gambling dens. It is known as the southern end of the Mother Lode. The diggings were reported to have yielded $2 million and mines were active through the 1870s. Mormon Bar was an unincorporated community of Mariposa County and an important stagecoach stop to and from Yosemite and Wawona.
When Sam Brannon, a Mormon elder, arrived at Mormon Bar he was searching for a “Mormon Eden” and quickly took a hefty share of the diggings as donations to the church. The gold filled his pockets instead and never reached the church.
Mormon Bar shared its prosperity with residents from the town of Mariposa and neighboring Buckeye to the west, Bootjack to the east and Ben Hur ten miles south. Morgan W. Quick’s 3,000 acre cattle ranch is located down Ben Hur Road and still irrigated by Rancheria Creek, the same spring that attracted the first settlers. A low, five-mile rock wall built by Chinese immigrants still encloses 400 of the ranch’s 3,000 acres, currently owned by Quick’s grandson. The wall was built to keep cattle from roving and declared the best use of rocks cleared off the property.
The historical marker is located on a small auxiliary road on right, 500 feet SE of intersection of State Highway 49 (P.M. 16.7) and Ben Hur Road, 1.8 miles south of Mariposa.
The wonders of the Yosemite Valley’s granite cliffs lie in eastern Mariposa County. The small settlements in the western foothills of the county sprang up during the Gold Rush. The people in these early mining towns made many decisions affecting statewide mining law.
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.
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: 1850-1860s