This old mining town, located on the banks of the Calaveras River,
started out as a rich camp back in the early 1850’s. The river received
its name from Gabriel Moraga who visited the region in 1806. Believed to
be the first white man to enter what is now Calaveras County, he found
many skulls along the banks of the river below San Andreas, prompting
him to call it Calaveras, meaning “skulls” in Spanish. The river was
rich and was widely worked during the Gold Rush. Placering, hydraulic
mining, and dredging all took place in this area.
Within a year the population of the camp was well over four hundred, a
large number of the miners being Mexican and Chinese. The town had four
general stores, two billiard halls, a bowling alley, smithy, post
office, two hotels, saloons, churches and many homes. Being on the main
road from Stockton, it was also an important freighting center for the
Several accounts of how the town was named exist, but no one really
knows which one is true. Did the famous Swedish singer, Jenny Lind,
really tour California during her American visit? (No) Was the town
founded and named for Dr. John Y. Lind? (Maybe) Did the braying of pack
mules prompt the miners to use the singer’s name in sarcastic humor?
(Who knows) What is true and known is that the “Swedish Nightingale,”
Jenny Lind, did tour the eastern cities in 1850-1852, managed by the
great P. T. Barnum. Her tour created a furor of excitement throughout
America and her name became famous across the country. The camp was most
likely named in her honor, even though she never set foot in California.
Jenny Lind is located twelve miles south of Valley Springs via Hwy 26.
Visit Jenny Lind's Historic Sites