Cherokee (No. 445 California Historical Landmark)

According to the California Register of Historical Resources, gold was discovered here in 1853 by the Scott brothers, descendants of Cherokee Indians. Scars of placer 'diggins' in every little arroyo in Cherokee Valley, healed over by Mother Nature, were later replaced by a quartz mine. Present-day productive farms in this area were once rich placer grounds.

Cherokee is named for the town’s two founders, members of the Cherokee tribe. Their discovery of gold in 1853 created the first placer camp in what is known as the East Best of the Mother Lode. Cherokee was one of several mining camps within a few miles of each others because Tuolumne County was so rich with gold ore. Other mines were called Independence, The Little Jessie, Mary Ellen, Plowboy and Excelsior.

By 1856 Cherokee had grown to include seven saloons, three general stores and 700 people. The Scanvino brothers, Domingo and Ciovanni, arrived from Italy via sailing the Isthmus of Panama. Quartz mining followed the gold mining operations. Ciovanni transformed the rich land they owned into a productive farm that remained in the family for many years.

Looking at the landscape today, little remains of the original establishments as new growth covered the remnants of fallen buildings. Farming has overtaken the mines of Cherokee, a common evolutionary trend for many mining camps and small towns throughout the Mother Lode.

The California Historical Landmark is located on Confidence-Tuolumne City Road (P.M. 8.5) two miles north Tuolumne City. Cherokee is part of the Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail.

Tuolumne County

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.

Read more


Latitude: 37.9774246 Longitude: -120.2468555 Elevation: 2788 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. 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.

Share your experience. Please leave a comment below if you've visited this historical landmark.

Time Period Represented



I recently visited the town of Cherokee in Butte County, near Orville, Ca and came across State Historic Landmark 445 located there. Your website indicates it is located in Tuolumne County. Was this monument relocated, as it seems more appropriate to be located in the town of Cherokee. Thanks, George

George , 9/28/2016

Hi George, I am very confused by this now that you have brought it to our attention. However, on the California Historic Landmark website: it lists Cherokee #445 in Tuolumne County, not Butte. There is a different landmark in Butte by the name of Cherokee Townsite and Adjoining Spring Valley Mine. Perhaps this is the one you saw?

SierraNevadaGeotourism, 10/5/2016

Can either of you confirm the actual location? I am interested in visiting. In addition, is there more information to discover for this era, the Cherokee Scott brothers, and other Cherokee who may have joined them? I am looking into my family history and this aligns. Thank you!

Angel, 10/23/2016

Hi Angel, This landmark is located in Tuolumne County. There is a different landmark in Butte County named Cherokee Townsite and Adjoining Spring Valley Mine.

SierraNevadaGeotourism, 10/24/2016

I understand the plaque in Butte is not a Calif Historical Landmark and not associated with that in Tuolumne. However, one web-site ( dated May 1, 2014 shows the original plaque # 445, in Tuolumne county. Another web-site(, shows a photo of the same area, without the plaque. In this photo, what appears to be the marker base, is on the opposite side of the wire fence, than that in the photo of the original marker. What happened to this marker, was it destroyed, being stored, relocated? The actual location of the photos is, 19721 Confidence-Tuolumne Road. GPS coordinates 37.9798 / 120.2480. Perhaps someone in the area has some knowledge as to the change in the two photos. Thank you.

George, 11/8/2016

Hi George, Not only is it in a different location, but the picture we have on the site appears to be the wrong picture of the marker. I did not write this nomination so I am doing some research to see what could be the confusion. My only thought on the marker being in a different location is the property line was moved and thats why its behind the fence. Will let you know more once I find out!

SierraNevadaGeotourism, 11/9/2016

So all of the Locations in Stockton and Lodi CA such as Cherokee Lane and such probably was connected to the Scott brothers mining claim 81 miles to the south east of Stockton? This would make sense given that Stockton was a major conduit to the mother load, 3/29/2017

Leave a Comment