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.
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.