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.