Mariposa Co., CA

“Queen of the Southern Mines”


Elevation 2000’




Named after the numerous butterflies, Mariposa, with 1400 or so folks, is far from being considered a ghost town, but is listed here due to its immense historical importance both to the county and the state.  It is located at the junction of SH 49/140, southwest of Yosemite National Park.  In the early spring of 1849, the original mining camp along Mariposa Creek was called Logtown, and was located about a half mile below the present town.  After floods wiped out the camp, the citizens moved to higher ground, rebuilt and renamed their burgeoning mining camp. 


The first hard rock lode gold mine in the state was the Mariposa Mine, originally discovered in August 1849, supposedly by the famed scout Kit CARSON.  That same year, this mine was the first in the state to use a steam-powered stamp mill to crush the gold-quartz ore.


On Jul 28, 1851 a post office was established, and on Nov 10, 1851, Mariposa wrested the county seat away from Agua Fria, and has remained such until today. 


In 1854 the courthouse was built and still remains in use, with only a few modifications.  It is said to be the oldest continuously used courthouse west of the Mississippi River!


Some of the early businesses included:

            SULLIVAN & CASHMAN Store:  This brick store built in 1852, was used by Colonel John C. FREMONT as original offices for his 44,000-acre land grant rancho. He later moved his operations to Bear Valley.


In late August 1866, a fire ripped through the town.  Here’s a description as contributed by William Disbro on Oct 10, 1999.  This includes many of the local businesses.


From an unidentified newspaper clipping late Aug 1866 (?)

(Name of paper and date not on posting, possibly the Mariposa Free Press  -- GBS)


Destructive Fire in Mariposa


    On Saturday evening last, at about half past 6 o'clock, a fire broke out in the office of the "Mariposa Free Press" and destroyed the entire business potion of town from 7th street, down Main and Bullion, to the fire proof store formerly owned by SULLIVAN & CASHMAN. With the exception of ASHWORTH's stable, at the corner of 7th and Bullion, there was not a wooden building saved west of Bullion Street. The only buildings left standing in the burnt district are the fire proofs of McDERMONT & CO., COOK & SAMUELS, Wm. COHN, SHIANFELT & ARENT. Nothing is known with certainty as the origin of the fire, though it is supposed that a drunken printer in our employ carelessly threw a match or stump of a cigar on a pile of papers inside. He and a boy belonging to the office, where sitting outside in front of the office at the time the fire broke out, and made an effort to get in but it was to hot for them. Nothing was saved from the office. We have not the space to give full particulars of the spread of the flames or other incidents of the fire. It is useless speculating, after this over, about what might have been done, and it is but justice to our fellow citizens to say that, from all we can learn, they made every effort possible to stay the progress of the flames. At the same time we take pleasure in recording the fact that a generous and liberal spirit has been shown on the part of those who have something left, in providing for the houseless and homeless. Many families have been left destitute, but nobody is going to suffer for the necessaries of life.

The following comprises a list of the property destroyed, commencing at the point where the fire originated:


J.H. LAWRENCE                  Free Press                                           $4,000

E.S. TERRY                              Stable and dwelling houses.                 $9,000

Mrs. GABRIEL                         Hotel and bakery                                 $5,000

BOGAN & Co.                          Store and goods                                  $18,000

FRANKL                                   Goods                                                  $2,000

J. BECKER                               Butcher Shop & out buildings              $3,000

STAHL Brothers                     Bakery                                                 $4,000

F. W. MELLO                           Building and furniture                         $6,000

SHAINFELD & ARENT           Outbuildings & furniture                     $3,000

COOK & SAMUELS                 Outbuildings                                        $400

A. W. JEE                                Dwelling house                                     $600

McDERMONT & Co.                 Saloon and outbuildings                       $8,000

John HESSLER                       Boot and Shoe Store                           $2,000

Robert COLLISON                  Saloon                                                 $1,000

---- CASTOR                           Tin Shop                                              $4,000

I. W. HARRIS                         Harness Shop                                      $3,000

FARNSWORTH & GALLISON   Blacksmith Shop & tools                  $2,000

J. W. TORNEY                                    Saloon                                                 $2,000

---                                            Masonic Hall                                        $8,000

J. R. McCREADY                      Livery Stable                                       $3,000

J. W. McCREADY                    Wheelwright Shop                              $400

STEINBERGER                                   Boot and Shoe Shop                            $500

Frank L. WULBURN                 Hotel                                                   $3,000

J.A. HENRY                             Buildings                                              $2,090

Wm. BISHOP                          Tailor Shop                                         $500

Wm. COHN                              Outbuildings                                        $2,000

S. KRAFT                                 Dry Goods Store                                 $19,000

H. SCHLAGETER                     Hotel and furniture                             $9,000

B. F. BACHMAN                      Saloon and contents                            $5,000

Saml. LORD                             Saloon                                                 $500

Maria LA FORGE                     Buildings                                              $2,000

George BERNHARD                 Saloon and contents                            $2,000

J. A. GRANDVOINET             Drug Store & Buildings                                    $8,000

Benj. GLIDDEN                       Buildings                                              $1,500

Henry RUPELT                        Buildings                                              $2,000

W.H. HILL                               News Dealer                                        $?,000

---                                            Odd Fellows Hall                                 $2,000

John HIGMAN                                    Grocery Store                                     $5,000

W. H. CROCKETT                    Carpenters Shop and tools                  $500

Emma HOWARD                      Building and contents                          $800

DALY & BRADFORD                Law Office                                          $300

R. McCAFFREY                                    Library and furniture                          $1,000

H. DAVANAY                          Buildings                                              $500

LOVEJOY & Co.                       Concert Hall                                        $1,000

                        TOTAL                                                            $153,900


The resiliency of the citizens of these early day communities is shown in snippets published a week later.  Thanks again to William Disbro.


Sept. 1, 1866 Mariposa Free Press




“RIDGEWAY & Co.'s peanut stand was not insured. Travel is brisk and the lumber trade good.

HIGMAN has commenced building a store near the site of his former place of business.

FARNSWORTH & GALLISON are ready to build.

Pete GORDON has a little 7 by 9 chebang and is retailing Whiskey and Lager.

Frank LEWIS is putting up a temporary structure for a hotel on the side of the WEBER house.

B.F. BACHMAN will rebuild the Arcade Saloon. Hugh DAVANAY is associated with him as a partner.

Mrs. GRISCHELL has rented the Hotel owned by George HAYS, opposite the Court House and resumed business.

Col. TERRY has moved his establishment into ASHWORTH'S stable, and is carrying on business as usual.

McCREADY is clearing away the rubbish from his building lot preparatory to putting up another building.

The report that the fire originated from the spontaneous combustion of that red headed printer is discredited.

Henry COLLINS lost a trunk containing about $500 worth of clothing, also an interest in a first class Hotel.

Tom ROWE's hotel was the only eating house left in town. His building, HARRIS's Livery Stable and Mrs. NICHOL's residence were saved by the Company's store which checked the fire on that side of the street.


After this fire, the Mariposa Free Press never reopened.


In December, 1884 another fire ripped through town. According to the Mariposa Gazette,

This makes the fourth conflagration Mariposa has suffered, since it was a town. The terrible fire of 1855, which swept nearly the whole town, but few are left here who witnessed it. The second, in 1866, consumed a greater portion of the principle business houses and hotels. The fire of 1868…


Yet that fire was not the last.  Another fire in March 1887 reduced the GALLISON Hotel and a neighboring building to ashes.  At least the town was not laid waste again.


Many of the historical old buildings remain, including:

·       COURTHOUSE:  This white-painted, wooden structure was built in 1854 of whipsawed lumber and combined with mortise and tenon joints, and held together with wooden pegs.  The clock and its cupola were originally installed in the 1860s, and the clock has run continuously since.  It still has the original furnishings.  The courthouse is CHL #670.  PHOTO!

·        INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS (IOOF) Hall: This is a c1867 two-story iron-shuttered building that in 1978 housed the Fremont House, a western wear store.  PHOTO!

·        JAIL: Sitting on a low hill overlooking the south end of town, it was built in 1858 of locally quarried granite rocks.  PHOTO!

·        MARIPOSA GAZETTE Newspaper:  Published continuously since 1854, it was first known as the Mariposa Chronicle.

·       MASONIC HALL:  Lodge 24, of the Free and Accepted Masons was housed in a two-story wooden building that housed an antique shop in 1978.  PHOTO!

·        SCHLAGETER Hotel:  A two-story hotel with wide balconies, it was built in 1859.  Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield both stayed here on journeys to the west.  In 1978 it housed a bank. PHOTO!

·       St. JOSEPH’s CATHOLIC CHURCH:  The white-painted, wooden church still calls congregants to worship on Sundays as it has since 1862.  PHOTO!

·        John TRABUCCO building:  This two-story, false-fronted building with iron shutters faces out onto the main street. 

·        TRABUCCO warehouse:  This old brick warehouse sits across the street from the TRABUCCO store at the corner of SH 49/5th Street. 



·        1930 – 380

·        1970 - 900

·        1980 - 1150

·        1990 - 1152

·        2000 - 1373                                        



·        Sec 23, T5S, R18E, MDM

·        Latitude: 37.4849377 / 37° 29' 06" N

·        Longitude: -119.9662843 / 119° 57' 59" W


Mariposa was the heart of the Mariposa Mining District, some of whose mines include:

·        EVANS II MINE

·        KANE MINE






SOURCES:  1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, WPA




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First Posted:  December 10, 2001

Last Updated: September 27, 2009



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