The historical significance of California Caverns is well established as a major cavern system and as one of the earliest recorded caves (1850) in the Mother Lode region of California. They were discovered by Captain Joseph Taylor in 1849 or 1850, and he opened it for public tours. He named the cavern Mammoth Cave, but by 1894 it was known as Cave City Cave.
Cave City was the first tourist operation in the Sierra Nevadas. Historical documents show the caves opened as a tourist attraction in 1854. Early visitors to the caves include Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and John Muir. Muir wrote about the caves in his The Mountains of California in 1894.
The California Caverns at Cave City are unique from other caves in the Mother Lode- the California Caverns have the most extensive cavern and passageway system. It is still a popular attraction for tourists to the region.
The California Caverns are located on Cave City Road, approximately 4 miles from Mountain Ranch Road via Michel Road, 11 miles east of Highway 49 in San Andreas.
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.
Calaveras is a Spanish word meaning "skull." The name was first given to the river because of the great quantities of human skulls found along the lower reaches of the river.
Calaveras County is famous for its lode and placer mines, and the largest gold nugget from the United States was taken from the Morgan Mine at Carson Hill in 1854, weighing 214 pounds. For many years it was the principal copper-producing county in California. Cement deposits from its vast limestone deposits has become one of the county's major industries in recent years.