Mariposa Co., CA
Maxwell’s Creek, Maxwellville
is a still active, wonderful old Class E
mining town still supporting a number of businesses. It is listed in this work because of its
major impact to the county. It is
located in the oak-studded, roly-poly hills at the junction of SH 49/132, about
28 miles northwest of Mariposa, and a few miles northeast of
In 1849, placer mining supported a budding
town. Then, in early 1850, George W. COULTER and George MAXWELL established a small tent store at this
location to supply miners working the placers in Black, Boneyard
A store owned by Stephen DAVIS who operated it from May 1852 through April 1854.
The BARRETT Blacksmith Shop operated in the early 1850s.
The original name for the community is said to have been Bandarita, (which is Spanish for flag) for the flag COULTER flew from his store, but according to GUDDE in CGC: “No contemporary evidence could be found for the often repeated story that the place was first called Bandereta.”
In 1852 discovery of the Malvina and Mary Harrison Mines caused the small community
to grow. When the post office was
established in 1853, it was called
In January 1862 the major floods that
heavily damaged most of
historic marker is located in town at the northeast corner of SH 49/132 in the
shade of the huge tree out front of the
Like many other Gold Rush towns, fire was a major re-maker of the town. In July 1879, a major fire leveled half of the town.
From an unidentified 1879 newspaper clipping.
Destructive Conflagration- One Half of Coulterville Burned to the Ground.
“On Wednesday last, about 10 o'clock a.m. occurred one of the most destructive fires in Coulterville that has ever been the misfortune of that beautiful mining town to meet with. The fire broke out in the dwelling occupied by Mr. J.W. REED and family, situated on the southerly end of the main street leading north through the principle business portion of the town, and adjoining on the south the old City Hotel, formerly owned and occupied by Mr. George COUNTS and family, who at present reside in this place.
“Mr. George W. COULTER, to whom we are indebted for the particulars concerning the fire given us early on Thursday morning last, the next day succeeding the fire, says: The fire was first discovered in a bed room of the house, and everything being of an inflammable nature, it must have got beyond control before it was discovered by the inmates. There were quite a number of children about the house, which makes it quite possible that matches where being tampered with that caused the destructive fire which so rapidly followed its outbreak. The alarm was scarcely given before the dwelling was wrapped in flames, which with the assistance of a southerly breeze was rapidly carried to the Old City Hotel, a large two story wood building, and in less time than it takes to describe it this massive wood structure was fast yielding to the fire fiend.
“The hotel was untenanted, but used as a lumber depot, in which a large amount was stored and materially added strength to the venomous fire, that raged fearfully, vomiting forth fire and black smoke which ascended to so great a height that it was plainly observed by the inhabitants of Bear Valley, about twelve miles distant.
“The next building in the pathway of the merciless destroyer was the
warehouse of Francisco BRUSCHI, which was soon destroyed with all its contents. Following this was
blacksmith shop; from thence to the PENDOLA property, comprising dwelling houses, barns and other buildings,
all of which were speedily reduced to ashes. The building known as the PENDOLA
Store was not burned. Total destruction of all that portion
of the town lying on the east side of
“The fire swept on. The store and dwelling place of Mr. Frank CUNEO and family were entirely consumed. To all appearances the fire at this point ought to have ceased its rage, but it did not. With the assistance of the wind it jumped for some distance to the old dwelling house formerly known as the GOODWIN residence. From that point the fire shaped its course easterly and crossed the street bordering up on Maxwell's creek, and consumed the residence of John R. COLLINS and family, and the carpentry shop of George EGGETT. From thence it crossed Maxwell's creek and was rapidly pursuing its way in a northerly direction up the east branch of Maxwell's creek towards the farm and ranches of James LINDSEY and Patrick DIEGNANS, which were at the time our informant left, considered to be in immanent danger. These ranches are two miles above Coulterville, and the fire was within one mile and advancing rapidly. There were seven families made sufferers by the fire, vis: Jonathan MENTZER, John C. RIHN, A. TISCORNIA, Frank CUNEO, John R. COLLINS and J.W. REED.
In 1899, another fire damaged the town, and it was after this fire that a lost treasure legend began. After the fire, the ruins of several gutted adobe buildings was used to patch holes in the streets of town. The owner of one of the buildings had apparently secreted some gold coins in a wall, and when the adobe patches were washed by rain, some of the gold coins appeared, creating a mini-gold rush.
Some of the historic old buildings still remaining include:
BRUSCHI Warehouse: Slabbed schist walls with one fired-adobe wall support this building which in 1949 housed the Coulterville Fire Department.
CANOVA STORE & Warehouse: The store dates to the 1860s, and the warehouse to 1870.
COULTER Hotel: The roofless, flat schist slab walls and soapstone-fronted hotel is the focal point of the old town and sits on the northwest side of the road junction. PHOTO!
IOOF Hall: PHOTO!
Jail: Built of soapstone blocks.
JEFFERY Hotel: This three-story wood frame, stone and adobe hotel on the northeast corner of the main junction of town was a AAA-rated place to stay until fairly recently. It was closed briefly in 2002, but as of October 2003 is still open. It was built in 1851. PHOTO!
Knights of Pythias Hall/General store: This two-story building house both a Knights of Pythias Hall (above) and a general store (below). The upper floor is wood, and a large white balcony extends out the front of the building.
Old oak tree and
“Whistling Billy” stand in front of the Coulter Hotel,
Sun Sun WO Store:
This c1851 Chinese store was made of adobe with a corrugated tin
roof. It still stands at the upper east
end of town in what used to be the heart of Coulterville’s “
Wells Fargo &
Company Express office: Built of brick in 1856, this building now
Coulterviulle bottomed out in the 1970s, but as California grew and the rural Motherlode communities began to attract urban refugees, it also began to grow.
Other photos include:
Coulterville General Store: PHOTO!
“The Boardwalk”: PHOTO!
The Heart of Coulterville: PHOTO!
· 1930 - 380
· 1970 - 180
· 1980 - 500
· 1990 - 650
· 2000 - 1772
· S½ Sec 34, T2S, R16E, MDM
· N½ Sec 3, T3S, R16E, MDM
· Latitude: 37.7104860 / 37° 30' 08" N,
· Longitude: -120.1979658 / 120° 14' 18" W
The Coulterville Mining District stretched about ten miles along the Mother Lode Gold Belt, from the McAlpine Mine (just over the county line in Tuolumne Co.), south to the Virginia Mine. The mines were worked through 1942 when they closed for the war. In the 1950s and 1960s, some exploratory work occurred in some of the mines.
Some of the mines located in the Coulterville Mining District included:
· ORO RICO MINE …SEE Peñon Blanco Mine
SOURCES: #1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, WPA
This was our Ghost Town of the Month for April 2011
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Return to the GTs of Mariposa Co., CA Index Page
Detailed information on individual locations:
Ghost Town USA’s Ghost Towns of California
Also visit: Ghost Town
A few LINKS to outside webpages:
First Posted: December 10, 2001
Last Updated: August 09, 2011
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