Calaveras County, officially the County of Calaveras, is a county in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 40,171. The county seat is San Andreas. Angels Camp is the county's only incorporated city. Calaveras is Spanish for "skulls"; the county was reportedly named for the remains of Native Americans discovered by the Spanish explorer Captain Gabriel Moraga.
Calaveras County, California
|County of Calaveras|
|Regions||Sierra Nevada, Gold Country|
|Incorporated||February 18, 1850|
|Named for||Spanish word meaning "skulls"|
|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)|
|Highest elevation||8,174 ft (2,491 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||39/sq mi (15/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)|
|GNIS feature ID||1675885|
Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a preserve of giant sequoia trees, is in the county several miles east of the town of Arnold on State Highway 4. Credit for the discovery of giant sequoias there is given to Augustus T. Dowd, a trapper who made the discovery in 1852 while tracking a bear. When the bark from the "Discovery Tree" was removed and taken on tour around the world, the trees 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.
In 2015, Calaveras County had the highest rate of suicide deaths in the United States, with 49.1 per 100,000 people.
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, during his 1806–1808 expeditions, 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. A more likely cause was a European epidemic disease, acquired from interacting with other tribes near the Missions on the coast. The Stanislaus River, which forms the southern boundary, 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 Mexicans attacked. The natives were quickly decimated by Mexican 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 upon waking discovered that they had camped amid a great quantity of skulls and bones. They also gave the river the name Calaveras.
Twain spent 88 days in the county in 1865, during which he heard the story that became "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" at the Angel Hotel. This story kicked off his 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.
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 Angel. Angel may have first arrived in California as a soldier, serving under Colonel Frémont during the Mexican War. After the war's end, he found himself in Monterey where he heard of the fabulous finds in the gold fields. He 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. Henry Angel 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.
The telluride mineral calaverite was first recognized and obtained in 1861 from the Stanislaus Mine, Carson Hill, Angels Camp, in Calaveras Co., California. 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.
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. 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.
- Amador County – north
- Alpine County – northeast
- Tuolumne County – south
- Stanislaus County – southwest
- San Joaquin County – west
National protected areaEdit
- Stanislaus National Forest (part)
|Population, race, and income|
|Black or African American||496||1.1%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||571||1.2%|
|Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander||16||0.0%|
|of other race||1,114||2.4%|
|Two or more races||1,324||2.9%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||4,688||10.2%|
|Per capita income||$28,667|
|Median household income||$55,256|
|Median family income||$67,253|
Places by population, race, and incomeEdit
|Places by population and race|
|Asian||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|Rail Road Flat||CDP||410||82.2%||0.0%||0.0%||17.8%||0.0%||8.3%|
|Places by population and income|
|Place||Type||Population||Per capita income||Median household income||Median family income|
|Rail Road Flat||CDP||410||$24,343||$35,882||$36,618|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
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%).
|Population reported at 2010 United States Census|
|Rail Road Flat||475||411||0||15||4||2||9||34||41|
|All others not CDPs (combined)||13,582||11,955||179||238||171||13||466||560||1,397|
As of the census 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:
- Calaveras County Government
- Forestry & Fire Protection
- Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital
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: Gary Tofanelli (District 1); Jack Garamendi (District 2); Merita Callaway (District 3); Dennis Mills (District 4) and Benjamin Stopper (District 5). In January 2020 Merita Callaway was elected Chair of the Board and Ben Stopper was elected Vice Chair. Albert Alt is the County Administrative Officer and Sarah DeKay is the interim County Counsel. Both are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors.
Elections and politicsEdit
Voter registration statisticsEdit
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 3]||28,763||62.8%|
|Peace and Freedom||94||0.3%|
|No party preference||5,474||19.0%|
Cities by population and voter registrationEdit
|Cities by population and voter registration|
|Democratic||Republican||D–R spread||Other||No party preference|
|Election results from statewide races|
|2010||Governor||Whitman 53.8 – 39.1%|
|Lieutenant Governor||Maldonado 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%|
In the State Senate, Calaveras County is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Republican Andreas Borgeas. In the State Assembly, it is in the 5th Assembly District, represented by Republican Frank Bigelow.
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.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||99||2.16|
Cities by population and crime ratesEdit
|Cities by population and crime rates|
|City||Population||Violent crimes||Violent crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|Property crimes||Property crime rate|
per 1,000 persons
|City of Angels||3,826||14||3.66||86||22.48|
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.
- 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.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|6||† San Andreas||CDP||2,783|
|13||Rail Road Flat||CDP||475|
- Other = Some other race + Two or more races
- Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
- Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
- Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
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- Corral Ridge
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- 2010 Census
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to |
Calaveras County, California.
- Official website
- Calaveras County Visitors Bureau
- Angels Camp, Calaveras County, weather
- Arnold, Calaveras County, weather
- Calaveras County Superior Court
- Map of fire stations in Calaveras County