In 1848 John W. Robinson and Stephen Mead established ferry transport for freight, animals, and persons across the Stanislaus River. In 1856 Harvey Wood purchased interests and later acquired property which was maintained by the Wood family until 1911. Charges were 50 cents for each passenger, horse, jenny, or other animal. The first post office opened at Robinson's Ferry in 1902 and the town was renamed Melones. The post office was closed in 1932. It reopened for a time in 1933 until it was permanently closed in 1942. Prior to Anglo settlement, the area around Robinson's Ferry was inhabited by Central Mi-Wuk.
The former town and ferry site are now submerged beneath New Melones Lake. The original Melones Dam was built in 1926 but was also submerged when a larger dam began to be constructed in 1966. The project was controversial, as the new lake would leave historic mining areas, unique limestone cave formations, and archeological sites underwater. Today the New Melones Lake provides irrigation water, hydroelectric power, flood control, wildlife habitat, water recreation activities, and camping. Tuttletown and Glory Hole Recreation Areas are located at New Melones Lake, in addition to the New Melones Visitor Center and Museum which has exhibits on local history. New Melones Lake is also near Angels Camp.
The Robinson's Ferry marker is located at a Vista Point at New Melones Lake on State Highway 49, 5.4 miles south of Angels Camp.
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.