Valley Springs (No. 251 California Historic Marker)

In 1885 the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad Company completed a narrow-gauge railroad from Brack's Landing to Valley Springs. The line eventually became the property of Southern Pacific Company, and a standard gauge-line into Valley Springs was substituted.

The narrow-gauge line was planned to extend to Big Trees, but this plan never came to fruition, and instead Valley Springs became the terminus for the line. The railroad connected Valley Springs to Stockton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, as well as surrounding Calaveras County towns.

Railroads played a significant role in California history, bringing people and goods to and from towns throughout the state and the rest of the United States. The narrow-gauge line, and the subsequent standard-line in Valley Springs, are representative of this history. Before highways and automobiles, railroads were the main transportation mode across the Sierra Nevada.

Originally named Spring Valley and settled shortly after the discovery of gold in Coloma in 1849, Valley Springs served as a way-point for travelers and prospectors heading to San Andreas to the east, Jenny Lind, and Copperopolis to the south, and Ione, Jackson, and Sutter Creek to the north. Valley Springs was not a gold rush town, though it served as a resting point for many miners. Prior to Anglo settlements, the area also served as a way-point for native Mi-Wuk and Yokut tribes traveling from lower to higher elevations. Evidence of pre-historic settlements have not been found in Valley Springs, however grinding stones found in Valley Springs indicate that Native Americans passed through it.

Valley Springs is located at the intersection of State Highways 12 and 26.

Calaveras County

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.

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Latitude: 38.191586 Longitude: -120.829103 Elevation: 670 ft

About this Establishment

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 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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