Mariposa Co., CA



Benton Mills


Elevation 1000’


The gold mining and milling town of Benton Mills was originally located on the south side of the Merced River, just east of the SH 49 bridge, 11.2 miles south of Coulterville.  Later a river resort named Bagby, was established directly across the river on the north side.


2 views of the north side ruins.  PHOTOS! #1, #2


The community began as a ferry called Ridley’s Ferry that operated between 1850 and 1852 at or near this location.  Then in 1859 Col. John C. FREMONT established a 16-stamp ore-crushing mill here, and named the community that grew up at the milling complex on the south side of the river BENTON MILLS, after his father in law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.  That mill was quickly replaced by a 48-stamp mill.


In 1890 boarding houses, cabins, a mill building, a post office and a store were established on the north side of the river.  The community that grew up there was called BAGBY, after B. A. BAGBY a local hotel owner.


In 1920 the last mill burned ending a legacy of gold milling here.  Bagby continued to operate as a river resort until the 1960s.


In 1930, the population was 36, and the decaying town consisted of a handful of frame houses, a store and the railroad station for the Yosemite Valley Railroad.  Those tracks were pulled out during the World War II metal scrap drive.


During the 1960s, the buildings were razed to make way for the expanding of Lake McClure.  In 1965, foundations of Fremont’s mill complex and his dam were still visible.  The old town was flooded in 1967 by the waters of Lake McClure.   An excellent write-up about Bagby and this time period is on Carolyn Feroben’s Mariposa County (CA) Genealogy and Historical Research BAGBY web page.


ALSO, if you are interested in flooded ghost towns, check out our Flooded Ghost Towns page listing hundreds of similar sites across the county and in Ontario, Canada.


On April 10, 2002, foundations and ruins were visible on a bench along the north side of the river, just east of the bridge.  There were no ruins visible on the south side, at least from the boat launching area.



·       SE¼ Sec 6, T4S, R17E, MDM

·       Latitude: 37.6118777 / 37° 36’ 43” N

·       Longitude: -120.1351839 / 120°  08’ 08”


Bagby/Benton Mills was also the center for a gold mining district, some of whose mines included:

·        FRENCH MINE



·        HAYDEN DIVISION:  SEE Great Johnson Vein

·        JOSEPHINE MINE:  SEE Pine Tree & Josephine Mine

·        JUMPER MINE

·        MEXICAN MINE (#1)


…SEE Ferries for a listing of the various ferries in Mariposa County.

…SEE Lake McClure for a listing of all the mining camps that have been

inundated by the waters of this reservoir.

…SEE Way Stations for a listing of the various railroad stations in Mariposa



SOURCES:   #1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 14, (WPA)


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First Posted:  December 10, 2001

Last Updated: April 30, 2015



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