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May contain: nature and building
Main Street, Camanche, circa 1950s. Courtesy Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History.

During the Gold Rush, the area in today’s West Calaveras south of the Mokelumne River claimed towns called Poverty Bar, Clay’s Bar, Winters Bar and Limerick, the latter after the many Irish immigrants who settled there. In the mid-1860s, as camps and settlements dwindled, pioneers who hailed from Iowa named their most significant town Camanche, after the Iowa town of the same name–and misspelled the name of the Native American tribe (Comanche) in the same way. Though Camanche survived through the decades, there were few residents left by the time the town was emptied so that the East Bay Municipal Utility District could build a dam and reservoir in the early 1960s. The town of Camanche thus disappeared under its waters.

by Sal Manna, 2010