Double Springs

Town History - Gold Discovery, Early Citizenry, Legends

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Town History

      It’s hard to believe that Double Springs was once a busy and important place, and the county seat to boot. Named for a pair of springs located in a meadow amongst the low hills, grassy fields have reclaimed the area now, dotted here and there with a few homes and ranch buildings. It’s quiet here, being well off the main highway. But it wasn’t always quiet.
      Discovered by Sonoran miners in the early summer of 1849, Agua Fria was one of the earliest settlements on Frémont’s Las Mariposas grant. Named for two springs of cold water located at a bend of the creek, the placer deposits of the area were rich, but like most of the placer camps in the region were soon worked out. As the miners drifted off to other camps, Agua Fria’s importance dwindled, and in 1852 the county seat was moved to Mariposa as the result of a county-wide vote, after a mandate by the State Legislature required all county seats to be determined by the registered voters of that county. Thereafter, the town vanished as rapidly as it had appeared, eventually leaving no trace of its existence.
      When Calaveras County was organized at the 1849/50 session of the California State Legislature, it was one of the original twenty-seven counties of the state. The county then included portions of what are now Amador, Alpine, Fresno, and Mono counties. As the county seat, Double Springs became a thriving center of activity for the entire area. Court was held in a large tent at first, until a proper courthouse could be built. It was constructed of camphor wood brought from China, and served as the courthouse until 1851 when Double Springs “lost” its seat. According to tradition, it happened like this. Even though the county seat had been voted away to Jackson, the citizens of Double Springs refused to give up the records. So late one night a party of stealthy Jacksonians arrived and began treating the county clerk to numerous libations at the local saloon. Meanwhile, other members of the party slipped into the courthouse, loaded up the archives, and hustled back to Jackson. Although illegal, Jackson held onto the county seat until April 16 of 1852, when the seat was transferred to Mokelumne Hill by an act of legislation.
      Double Spring’s decline was as rapid as its rise, for when the county seat left, so did everything else. Many people followed the seat of government to whichever town it went, as their jobs were in some way related; lawyers, clerks, county officials, etc. And as the people left, so did the businesses which counted on their patronage. Eventually there were only a few ranches and homes left at Double Springs, and the area returned to its former pastural self.
      Double Springs is located nine miles from Mokelumne Hill via Hwy 26 and Double Springs Road.

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