Amador City

Town History - Gold Discovery, Early Citizenry, Legends

Historic Sites - Local Ruins, Relics, Buildings & Scenery
      • Old Powder House
      • Keystone Office and Assay Room
      • Fleehart Building
      • Kling Building
      • Imperial Hotel
      • Amador Hotel
      • Mooney Saloon

Travelers' Tips - Directions, Museums, Lodging, &c

Town History

      The creek, the town, and the county all take their name from the same man, Jose Maria Amador, Indian fighter, rancher, miner. On August 17 of 1835, Amador was granted an immense 16,517 acre tract of land known as the Rancho San Ramon, where he settled down and built one of the few two-story adobes in California. Amador began producing leather, soap, saddles, blankets, shoes, and wagons using Indians from mission San Jose, and was soon one of the wealthiest rancheros in the province.
      When word of the gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill reached Rancho San Ramon, Amador decided to visit the place and see what it was all about. Traveling with a Frenchman named Sausevain, they reached Sutter’s Fort at about eight o’clock in the evening and met Sutter, whom Amador states was rather drunk, but nevertheless provided a cordial reception and served a good dinner and liquor of excellent quality.
      When they arrived at the mill the following day, the two men walked down to the American River, took out their pans and commenced mining for gold. Their first efforts were somewhat discouraging, averaging only about 75 cents per pan. Disappointed with these results, they headed for Mormon Camp, where the miners were getting about an ounce of gold to each of two shovelsful. They then returned home, but before long they would be back.
      Returning to Sutter’s Mill in June of 1848, Amador’s party learned of the dry placers at what would later become Amador Creek. Two of the men, Sausevain and Sunol, left for the dry placers while Amador remained at the American River. He joined them later that month and the three men, with their retinue of some twenty Indian workers, took out from seven to nine pounds of gold a day. Besides mining, Amador was also a successful trader, selling cattle—$150 each—and provisions to the local miners. After being in the mines for about nine months off and on, Amador left for good early in 1849, returning to his rancho with thousands of dollars in gold.
      Amador and his party were not the only miners on the creek during those early days. A party of men from Oregon built two cabins and stayed during the winter of 1848/49. James Wheeler and his four partners built a large double cabin in the fall of 1849, as did a company from Virginia who also kept a stock of goods available for sale. A company of miners from New York were camped along Amador Creek by the end of 1849, which Bayard Taylor describes as being “lined with tents and winter cabins.”
      In February of 1851, a Baptist minister from Tennessee named S. A. Davidson made the first discovery of gold-bearing quartz in the region, beside a crystal spring where miners often stopped to slake their thirst. Why was the minister able to spot the gold while experienced miners were not? Divine Intervention? We will never know. We do know that among his partners were M. W. Glover and Lemuel Herbert, both Methodist-Episcopal ministers, and Peter Y. Cool, who would become a minister in 1854. It’s not surprising that the claim came to be known as the “Ministers Claim.”
      Several other claims were staked along the quartz vein shortly after Davidson’s discovery, which led to the original settlement shifting downstream from Amador Crossing, where the stage road crossed the creek, to the spot it occupies today. As the miners became more familiar with working the quartz mines, the mines began to prosper, which created a demand for more workers. And wherever miners went, stores and saloons and hotels and all the rest were sure to follow. Amador boomed and went on to become one of the richest mining towns in the Gold Country.

Travelers' Tips
      • Lodging
      • Town Map
      • Current Weather

HomeThe Virtual California Gold CountryBuy the Book(s)!