Mokelumne Hill

Image of Chinese in Mokelumne Hill
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Chinese in Mokelumne Hill

Mokelumne Hill’s Chinatown stretched along East Center Street, from present-day Shutter Tree Park east to the edge of the Catholic Cemetery, and south up what is now called China Gulch. It was said to be one of the largest in the County and featured two temples: the Taoist Temple in the now-empty lot next to the park, and the Buddhist Temple farther to the east. Surviving earlier fires and floods, the community was nearly wiped out by a fire in 1898, started by a bombing of the Taoist Temple by the rival Buddhists.

Image of Happy Valley
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Happy Valley

About a mile east of Mokelumne Hill on Highway 26, after you make the tight turn to the right after the Elementary School, the land opens up into a small valley with fields on both sides. This is called Happy Valley and was the location of a very early French settlement (prior to the Gold Rush) and of later mining and winemaking activities.

French Fur Trappers

By Emmett P. Joy, 1965

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Environmental Setting of Mokelumne Hill

Mokelumne Hill lies at an elevation of approximately 1500 feet AMSL. This location is within the Foothill or Gray Pine-Chaparral Belt environmental zone, also referred to as the Upper Sonoran life zone (1). The area is characterized by open grasslands interspersed with blue oak, live oak and gray, or bull, pine. The town sits within a bowl formed by the surrounding hills and is favored with a uniquely mild climate for this elevation, benefiting from the mitigating effects of the adjacent Mokelumne River canyon.

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