An Old Mining Town Reappears...

The drought is very evident when one visits Folsom Lake. Its normal level is 466 feet. Today, it is 115 below that, exposing remnants of the Gold Rush mining town of Mormon Island. Never mind that there is no signage, docents or information pamphlets, we wanted to explore this museum.

Mormon Island was once a mining community, which had an abundance of Mormon immigrants, seeking fortune along the American River. Early in March 1848, W. Sidney, S. Willis, and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter's Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the south fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the fort, and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named Mormon Island. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall's discovery at Coloma.
By 1853, the population of the town was 2,500 with four hotels, three dry goods stores, five general merchandise stores and seven saloons. The first ball in Sacramento County was held here on December 25, 1849. A fire destroyed the town in 1856, and it was never rebuilt. The community dwindled after the California gold rush and only a scattered few families were left in the 1940s.

Foundations, tools, pottery and various other remnants remain.

What was left of Mormon Island was eventually razed, as the Folsom Dam project was set to flood the town (1955). It is only in times of drought, that the town reappears. This was so incredibly interesting.
Wandering here was like a scavenger hunt in history. It was a great way to spend the morning before the rains came.
"We cannot escape history
and neither can we escape a desire to understand it."

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Bob Sweatt said...

Great place huh, I remember the ruins in the early 50s before the dam was filled.

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