Calaveras County, California

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Calaveras County, California
County of Calaveras
Calaveras County view
Calaveras County view
Flag of Calaveras County, California
Official seal of Calaveras County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States of America
State  California
Regions Sierra Nevada, Gold Country
Incorporated February 18, 1850[1]
County seat San Andreas
Largest community Rancho Calaveras
 • Total 1,037 sq mi (2,690 km2)
 • Land 1,020 sq mi (2,600 km2)
 • Water 17 sq mi (40 km2)
Population (April 1, 2010)[2]
 • Total 45,578
 • Estimate (2014)[2] 44,624
 • Density 44/sq mi (17/km2)
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code 209
FIPS code 06-009
GNIS feature ID 1675885

Calaveras County, officially the County of Calaveras, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 45,578.[3] The county seat is San Andreas,[4] and Angels Camp is the only incorporated city. Calaveras is the Spanish word for skulls; the county was reportedly named for the remains of Native Americans discovered by the Spanish explorer Captain Gabriel Moraga.

Calaveras County is located in both the Gold Country and High Sierra regions of California.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a preserve of Giant Sequoia trees, is located in the county several miles east of the town of Arnold on State Highway 4. Credit for the discovery of giant sequoias here is given to Augustus T. Dowd, a trapper who made the discovery in 1852 while tacking a bear. When the bark from the "Discovery Tree" was removed and taken on a tour around the world, the trees soon became a worldwide sensation and one of the county's first tourist attractions. The uncommon gold telluride mineral calaverite was discovered in the county in 1861 and is named for it.

Mark Twain set his story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", in the county. The county hosts an annual fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, featuring a frog-jumping contest, to celebrate the association with Twain's story. Each year's winner is commemorated with a brass plaque mounted in the sidewalk of downtown Historic Angels Camp and this feature is known as the Frog Hop of Fame. The California red-legged frog, feared extinct in the county by 1969, was rediscovered in 2003.


The Spanish word calaveras means "skulls." The county takes its name from the Calaveras River; it was said to have been named by Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga when he found many skulls of Native Americans along the banks of the stream. He believed they had either died of famine or been killed in tribal conflicts over hunting and fishing grounds. In fact, the human remains were of the native Miwuk people killed by Spanish soldiers after they banded together to rise against Spanish missionaries.[citation needed] The Stanislaus River, which runs through the county, is named for Estanislao, a Lakisamni Yokut who escaped from Mission San Jose in the late 1830s. He is reported to have raised a small group of men with crude weapons, hiding in the foothills when the Spanish attacked. The natives were quickly decimated by Spanish gunfire.

In 1836, John Marsh, Jose Noriega, and a party of men, went exploring in Northern California. They made camp along a river bed in the evening, and when they woke up the next morning, discovered that they had camped in the midst of a great quantity of skulls and bones. They also gave the river the appropriate name: Calaveras.[5][6][7]

The writer Mark Twain spent 88 seminal days in the county, during which time he heard the story that became The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in the Angel Hotel in 1865. This short story kicked off Mark Twain's career and put Calaveras County on the map.


Calaveras County was one of the original counties of the state of California, created in 1850 at the time of admission to the Union. Parts of the county's territory were reassigned to Amador County in 1854 and to Alpine County in 1864.[1]

The county's geography includes beautiful landmarks, rolling hills, and giant valleys. It is also known for its friendly communities, and businesses such as agriculture management and construction engineering. It has numerous caverns, such as Mercer Caverns, California Cavern and Moaning Cavern that are national destinations for tourists from across the country. Other attractions include a thriving wine making industry, including the largest of the Calaveras wineries: Ironstone Vineyards, mountain sports recreation and the performing arts.

Gold prospecting in Calaveras County began in late 1848 with a camp founded by Henry and George Angel. The brothers first arrived in California as soldiers, serving under Colonel Frémont during the Mexican War. After the war's end, the brothers found themselves in Monterey where they heard of the fabulous finds in the gold fields. They joined the Carson-Robinson party of prospectors and set out for the mines. The company parted ways upon reaching what later became known as Angels Creek. The brothers tried placer mining but soon opened a trading post. By the end of the year, over one hundred tents were scattered about the creek and the settlement was referred to as Angels Trading Post, later shortened to Angels Camp.

Placer mining soon gave out around the camp, but an extensive gold-bearing quartz vein of the area's Mother Lode was located by the Winter brothers during the mid-1850s, and this brought in the foundations of a permanent town. This vein followed Main Street from Angels Creek up to the southern edge of Altaville. Five major mines worked the rich vein: the Stickle, the Utica, the Lightner, the Angels, and the Sultana. These mines reached their peaks during the 1880s and 1890s, when over 200 stamp mills crushed quartz ore brought in by hand cars on track from the mines. By the time hard rock mining was done, the five mines had producing a total of over $20 million in gold.[8]

The telluride mineral calaverite was first recognized and obtained in 1861 from the Stanislaus Mine, Carson Hill, Angels Camp, in Calaveras Co., California.[9] It was named for the County of origin by chemist and mineralogist Frederick Augustus Genth who differentiated it from the known gold telluride mineral sylvanite, and formally reported it as a new gold mineral in 1868.[10][11]


California Caverns - Calaveras County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,037 square miles (2,690 km2), of which 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (1.6%) is water.[12] A California Department of Forestry report lists the county's area in acres as 663,000, although the exact figure would be 663,477.949 acres (2,685.00000 km2). There are a number of caverns located in Calaveras County.

National protected area



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 16,884
1860 16,299 −3.5%
1870 8,895 −45.4%
1880 9,094 2.2%
1890 8,882 −2.3%
1900 11,200 26.1%
1910 9,171 −18.1%
1920 6,183 −32.6%
1930 6,008 −2.8%
1940 8,221 36.8%
1950 9,902 20.4%
1960 10,289 3.9%
1970 13,585 32.0%
1980 20,710 52.4%
1990 31,998 54.5%
2000 40,554 26.7%
2010 45,578 12.4%
Est. 2014 44,624 −2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
1790–1960[21] 1900–1990[22]
1990–2000[23] 2010–2014[3]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Calaveras County had a population of 45,578. The racial makeup of Calaveras County was 40,522 (88.9%) White, 383 (0.8%) African American, 689 (1.5%) Native American, 571 (1.3%) Asian, 79 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 1,534 (3.4%) from other races, and 1,800 (3.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,703 persons (10.3%).[24]


As of the census[25] of 2000, there were 40,554 people, 16,469 households, and 11,742 families residing in the county. The population density was 40 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 22,946 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile (9/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.2% White, 0.8% Black or African American, 1.7% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.1% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. 6.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.7% were of German, 13.0% English, 10.7% Irish, 7.4% Italian and 7.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.5% spoke English and 4.0% Spanish as their first language.

There were 16,469 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.9% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 22.4% from 25 to 44, 31.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,022, and the median income for a family was $47,379. Males had a median income of $41,827 versus $28,108 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,420. About 8.7% of families and 11.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.


The major Calaveras County employers include:

250-499 employees:

  • Bear Valley Ski Area[26]
  • Calaveras County Government
  • Forestry & Fire Protection
  • Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital

100-249 employees:

  • Bret Harte High School
  • Ironstone Vineyards
  • Calaveras High School
  • Mark Twain Convalescent Hospital
  • Mountain Machinery[27]


Calaveras County is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. Supervisors are elected by district at the Consolidated Primary Election and serve for four years. Current Board of Supervisors: Cliff Edson (District 1); Chris Wright (District 2); Merita Callaway (District 3); Debbie Ponte (District 4) and Darren Spellman (District 5). In January 2014 Debbie Ponte was elected Chair of the Board and Cliff Edson was elected Vice Chair. Lori Norton is the County Administrative Officer and Janis Elliot is the County Counsel. Both are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors.

Elections and politics

Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


Calaveras County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DNC Others
2012 57.1% 10,537 40.1% 7,404 2.9% 528
2008 55.1% 12,835 42.2% 9,813 3.3% 773
2004 60.9% 13,601 37.1% 8,286 2.0% 456
2000 56.2% 10,599 37.6% 7,093 6.3% 1,184
1996 48.1% 8,279 38.6% 6,646 13.3% 2,281
1992 35.4% 6,006 35.3% 5,989 29.4% 4,996
1988 56.3% 7,640 41.8% 5,674 1.9% 260
1984 64.3% 7,632 34.4% 4,081 1.4% 164
1980 58.9% 6,054 29.9% 3,076 11.1% 1,145
1976 49.1% 3,695 47.9% 3,607 3.0% 226
1972 60.8% 4,119 33.5% 2,268 5.8% 392
1968 52.2% 3,042 36.6% 2,134 11.3% 656
1964 41.6% 2,244 58.3% 3,145 0.2% 8
1960 52.6% 2,820 46.8% 2,509 0.6% 32
1956 57.9% 2,843 41.7% 2,049 0.4% 17
1952 61.7% 3,112 37.4% 1,890 0.9% 46
1948 46.8% 1,888 49.4% 1,995 3.8% 154
1944 43.2% 1,455 56.2% 1,893 0.6% 21
1940 40.4% 1,649 58.9% 2,405 0.7% 29
1936 27.2% 960 71.3% 2,520 1.5% 54
1932 29.0% 754 67.1% 1,744 3.9% 101
1928 53.8% 1,262 45.4% 1,066 0.8% 18
1924 39.4% 872 15.06% 333 45.5% 1,006
1920 64.0% 1,480 27.7% 641 8.3% 193
Election results from statewide races
Year Office Results
2010 Governor Brown 53.8 - 39.1%
Lieutenant Governor Newsom 51.1 - 34.6%
Secretary of State Dunn 51.0 - 36.7%
Controller Chiang 49.5 - 38.7%
Treasurer Walters 46.1 - 43.5%
Attorney General Cooley 56.7 - 28.5%
Insurance Commissioner Villines 49.7 - 34.6%

Calaveras County is in California's 4th congressional district, represented by Republican Tom McClintock.[29]

In the State Senate, Calaveras County is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Republican Tom Berryhill.[30] In the State Assembly, it is in the 5th Assembly District, represented by Republican Frank Bigelow.[31]

Past presidential elections in Calaveras County have displayed preferences for Republican candidates; the last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, although Democrat Bill Clinton lost the county by only 17 votes in 1992. By contrast, recent elections have seen a sharp upswing in Democratic voter registrations.[citation needed]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates


Major highways

Public transportation

Calaveras Transit provides service in Angels Camp, San Andreas, and other communities in the county. Intercounty connections are available to Columbia (Tuolumne County), Jackson (Amador County), and Lodi (San Joaquin County).


Calaveras County Airport is a general aviation airport located just southeast of San Andreas.


Angels Camp is the only incorporated city located in Calaveras County.

Census-designated places

Former settlements

Special districts

  • Altaville Cemetery District
  • Altaville-Melones Fire District
  • Angels Camp Fire District
  • Bret Harte Union High School District
  • Calaveras County Air Pollution Control District
  • Calaveras Unified School District
  • Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District
  • Copperopolis Fire Protection District
  • Ebbetts Pass Fire Protection District
  • Foothill Fire District
  • Jenny Lind Fire District
  • Mark Twain Health Care District
  • Mark Twain Union Elementary School District
  • Mokelumne Hill Fire District
  • Murphys Fire District
  • San Andreas Fire District
  • Vallecito Union Elementary School District
  • Valley Springs Public Utilities District
  • West Point Fire District.[34]

See also


  1. Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. 3.0 3.1 Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Chronology". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved February 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "American Fact Finder - Results". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 1, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "State & County the population increased significantly in weekends and holidays due to tourism and other events. The population will often double and triple during major holiday weekends. QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lyman, George D. John Marsh, Pioneer: The Life Story of a Trail-blazer on Six Frontiers, pp. 207-8, The Chautauqua Press, Chautauqua, New York, 1931.
  6. Winkley, John W., Dr. John Marsh: Wilderness Scout, pp. 54-5, The Parthenon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1962.
  7. Thompson, Thomas Hinkley, and West, Albert Augustus. History of San Joaquin County, California, p. 13, 1879.
  8. Koeppel, Elliot H. "Angels Camp". The California Gold Country: Highway 49 Revisited. Malakoff & Co. ISBN 0-938121-12-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Calaverite information
  10. American Journal of Science. (2). xlv, p. 314.
  11. Biographical paper on F. A. Genth
  12. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  14. 14.0 14.1 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  15. 15.0 15.1 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. 16.0 16.1 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. 17.0 17.1 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. 18.0 18.1 U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  19. U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  20. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Bear Valley Ski Resort Home Page". Bear Valley Ski Resort. January 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Calaveras County Largest Employers". usaINFO. January 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 28.11 28.12 28.13 28.14 28.15 28.16 California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  29. "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 32.6 32.7 32.8 32.9 Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  34. "Largest Calaveras County Employers". infoUSA. January 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Merced, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa, California. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1892.
  • "Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit: 2005 Pre-Fire Management Plan September 28, 2005 Edition," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 09-28-2005, pp. 16, 17
  • United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

External links

Template:Cities of Calaveras County, California

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