Sutter Creek

Town History - Gold Discovery, Early Citizenry, Legends

Historic Sites - Local Ruins, Relics, Buildings & Scenery
      • Bellotti Inn
      • Brignole Building
      • Sutter Creek Grammar School
      • Wildman Mine Ruins
      • United Methodist Church

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

Town History

      The town takes its name from the creek; the creek takes its name from John A. Sutter. Unable to stop the tide of gold-seekers flowing over and destroying his lands, Sutter decided to follow the call of gold, trying in vain to recoup what the Gold Rush had taken. He arrived here in 1848 with a band of Kanakas and Indians, and upon finding a likely spot began mining along the creek.
      A small settlement began to grow, centered around a cloth tent where the miners met on rainy Sundays when they couldn’t go to Drytown or Jackson. The place eventually took the name of its most prominent citizen, and was called Sutter’s Creek, Sutter, Sutterville, and finally, plain old Sutter Creek. But Sutter wasn’t a miner, and many of the other miners in the area didn’t much approve of his using servants to dig for gold. He left the area a short while later, returning with his men to Sutter’s Fort. He never mined again.
      The camp appeared to be on the verge of disappearing by 1850, due to the poor placers and the better diggings to be found elsewhere. This changed dramatically in 1851 when rich quartz deposits were discovered near the camp. With the advent of quartz mining, Sutter Creek became firmly established as an important quartz mining center as well as a foundry center and supply point for the neighboring quartz mines and towns.
      The post office came to town in 1852, with Dwight Crandall serving as the first postmaster. Other businesses included an Adams Express office, stores, saloons, hotels, bakeries and restaurants, doctors, lawyers, blacksmith, barber and numerous other professions, sordid and mundane. In September of 1854, Sutter Creek incorporated as a town which shows there were at least two hundred inhabitants at that time, as that was the required number for incorporation. >From that point on the town never looked back, enjoying immense prosperity for years to come due to its location, in the midst of some of the most active and profitable deep quartz mines in the Gold Country. Mines such as the Central Eureka, the Old Eureka, the Lincoln, the Wildman, the Mahoney, and the Hayward produced millions of dollars in gold. The famous mines attracted and helped create famous people, such as Leland Stanford, Alvinza Hayward, and the “Witch of Wallstreet,” Hetty Green.
      Receiving an interest in the Union Mine as payment for a merchant’s debt, Leland Stanford left his grocery business in Sacramento to travel to Sutter Creek when news of the mine’s losses reached him in the late 1850’s. By this time the mine had been renamed the Lincoln, and after working the claim for a while with poor results, Stanford decided to sell the mine for $5,000, provided he could find a buyer. Robert Downs, the mine foreman, persuaded Stanford to give the mine one last chance and as fortune would have it, the chance payed out. Within a year the rich vein was re-discovered, producing $2.2 million in gold between 1860 and 1873. Stanford eventually sold his interests for $400,000 and later became famous with his partners Huntington, Crocker, and Hopkins by building the Central Pacific transcontinental railroad. Oh yes, he also went on to become governor of California, a U.S. Senator, and the founder of Stanford University.
      Fires in 1862, 1865, 1870, 1875, 1877, and 1888 took turns destroying portions of Sutter Creek, the last one wiping out most of the downtown business section. The damage was always quickly repaired; however, because gold never sleeps. It’s always working, or creating work, causing things to happen. It caused this town to boom, to build, to prosper and to last. It’s responsible for the many buildings and homes here that have survived from the 1800’s. They were built well, built to last, because they thought the gold would last. And as it turned out, it did, although in a slightly different form. Lumbering, and more recently, tourism, now provide Sutter Creek and much of the Mother Lode with its gold today.

Travelers' Tips
      • Lodging
      • Town Map
      • Current Weather

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