Skip to main content

East of Dorrington

historic photo of two men in a car entering the city


Dorrington to Ganns Meadow

Dorrington, a historic stopping place on the Big Tree-Carson Valley Road, was originally known as Cold Spring Ranch (NW ¼ of Section 12, T5N, R15E). The first recorded mention of the ranch was in November of 1853, when Clark and Benjamin Stockwell sold 160 acres to G. H. Woodruff. The property then passed through several hands until sold to John Gardner and William A. Gibson in January 1868. Gardner built a hotel, across the highway from the present hotel, and when it was destroyed by a fire, built the present hotel in the early 1880s. Stock corrals were erected, a general store opened, a school built, and the stopping place became a toll station on the Big Trees-Carson Valley Turnpike from the 1890s until 1910. Known as Gardner’s Station when a post office was established in 1902, the Post Office Department objected to the name because there were so many others of the same, so the maiden name of John Gardner’s widow, Rebekah Dorrington Gardner, was chosen instead (Wood and Bishop 1968:40-41).

Camp Connell was established in 1928 by Jack and Noreen Connell (SW ¼ of Section 1, T6N, R15E), who had purchased the Dorrington Hotel property in the mid-1920s. With auto traffic increasing and the old hotel in need of repair, the couple decided to build the Camp Connell Store, complete with gasoline station, general merchandise store, and a campground. Camp Connell quickly became a stopping place for travelers along the Ebbetts Pass Highway, as well as a gathering place for local residents and cattlemen. The post office was moved there from Dorrington in 1934 and remained until 1978, when it was returned to Dorrington. The stopping place was sold to the Anderson family in 1947, who subdivided lots in Dorrington and built the A-frame units across Highway 4 from the old hotel (Las Calaveras 1996:35-37).

Selected Locations

Hinkleman Meadow, located east of Dorrington (NW 1.4 of Section 6, T5N. R16E), was once the site of a small store, hotel, and stock corrals. The upland cattle ranch was occupied by Bill Hinkleman from the turn of the century until shortly after World War I. It is now the location of the Dorrington Forest Service Station (Johnson 1999:13, Las Calaveras 1988:21-22). The meadow was encircled by another road in the 1870s, identified as an “old road,” which coursed northeasterly from Gardner’s (southeast of the present road) and connected with the Big Tree and Carson Valley Turnpike just east of Hinkleman’s (Wheeler 1877).

The Mohawk Sawmill of the Union Water Company was located on Mill Creek, where it crossed the Big Tree Road (SW ¼ of Section 32, T6N, R16E). Constructed in 1855, the steam sawmill provided lumber for the flumes of the company which brought water for mining purposes to Murphys and Angels Camp. The mill was noted as “a fine one, capable of producing 1000 feet of lumber per hour” (State Surveyor General Annual Report, 1855).

Mill Creek Station, a 320-acre ranch, was located on Mill Creek near the former Mohawk Sawmill. During the 1860s it was owned by A. J. Pool and W. W. England. One-quarter of a mile above A. J. Pool & Co.’s ranch, Theodore Trimmer operated a 160-acre ranch (Calaveras County Assessment Rolls, 1861-1867).

The Pool and England ranch was apparently later sold to A. J. Sewell, who in 1873 was assessed for a 160-acre ranch on both sides of the Big Tree and Carson Valley Road (SW ¼ of Section 32, T6N, R16E), with a house located west of Mill Creek (Calaveras County Assessment Rolls 1873, General Land Office 1876). East of Sewell’s ranch was the ranch of George A. Wood, patented in 1892, and located on the north side of the road (Calaveras County Patent Maps, USGS 1901).

Cottage Springs (NE ¼ of Section 28, T6N, R16E, and southwest of the present community of Cottage Springs) was owned by A. Henry Stevens/Stephens as early as 1865 (Calaveras County Assessment Rolls 1865). The ranch was conveyed by Sheriff Ben Thorn to John Gardner in 1870 when Stevens failed to pay back taxes (Calaveras County Deed Book S:224). It was patented by his wife Rebekah Gardner in 1888 (Calaveras County Patent Book V:445).

Black Springs (NW ¼ of Section 15, T6N, R16E) was noted in Taylor’s Guide Hotel Directory in 1857 as being located nine miles from the Big Tree Grove and 90 miles from Stockton (San Andreas Independent, October 1857). The ranch was patented in 1862 by William Carmichael and Jacob Pettit, and encompassed 160 acres on the “Big Tree Road leading to Carson Valley” (Calaveras County Land Claim Book C:590). In 1865 J. H. Lowman was assessed for the ranch, the record noting that he had “household furniture, one wagon, one American cow, one Spanish horse, and two mules” on the property (Calaveras County Assessment Rolls 1865).

An “old log house” was depicted on an early map of the area (SW ¼ of SW ¼ of Section 11, T6N, R16E) located about one-quarter mile east of Black Springs (General Land Office 1876). The land was not patented until 1907, so the builder of the log home is unknown.

By Judith Marvin

References Cited or Consulted

Alpine County

   1921   Official Map of Alpine County

   n.d.   Map of Area from Board’s Crossing to Lake Alpine.  Manuscript Map.  On file, Foothill Resources, Ltd., Murphys.

Bishop, Frances
  n.d.   Frances Bishop notes.  On file, Calaveras County Archives, San Andreas, and Foothill Resources, Ltd., Murphys.  .

Calaveras, County of
   var.   Assessment Rolls
   var.   Deed Books
   var.   Land Claim Books
   var.   Patent Books
   var.   Board of Supervisors Minute Books
   1850-1886   Roads According to Township Boundaries Book
   var.   Land Patent Maps.  On file, Calaveras County Surveyor, San Andreas.

Centennial Book Committee
   1964   Alpine Heritage; One Hundred Years of History * Recreation * Lore in Alpine County, California.  Centennial Book Committee, Markleeville. 

Costello, Julia G., Editor, Frances Bishop and Judith Cunningham (Marvin), Betty Jean Ciccio, Star Hempstead, and Wayne Harrison. 
   1988   Historical and Archaeological Research at the Calaveras Big Tree Cottage Area.  Foothill Resources, Ltd., for the Calaveras Big Trees Association and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Sacramento.

Davis-King, Shelly, and Judith Marvin, Dorothea J. Theodoratus, Terry L. Brejla, and Duncan E. Hay.
   1990  Waterscapes in the Sierra:  Cultural Resources Investigations for the Angels (FERC 2699) Project, Volume I, Calaveras County, California.  Infotec Research, Inc., Sonora, for submittal to Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Francisco. 

Farquhar, Francis P., Editor
   1930   Up and Down California in 1860-1864.  The Journal of William H. Brewer.  Yale University Press, New Haven. 

General Land Office
   1871   Township 5 North, Range 15 East, MDBM, Plat Map.

   1876   Township 5 North, Range 16 East, MDBM, Plat Map.

   1876   Township 6 North, Range 16 East, MDBM, Plat Map.

Howard, Thomas Frederick
   1998   Sierra Crossing, First Roads to California.  University of California Press, Berkeley. 

Jackson, W. Turrentine
   1964   Report on the History of the Grover Hot Springs State Park Area and Surrounding Regions of Alpine County.  Division of Beaches and Parks, Department of Parks and Recreation, State of California.  Reprinted by the Alpine County Museum, Markleeville.

Johnson, Lynn
   1999   An Archaeological Survey Report for Proposed AC Overlay and Shoulder Backing of State Route 4, Calaveras County, California.  10-CAL-4 (KP 79.8/93.3 [PM 49.6/58.01]).  EA 10-1A5000, Contract No. 06A0182, Task Order No. 5.  Archaeological Research Center, Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Studies, Department of Anthropology, California State University, Sacramento.  Prepared for Dale Jones, Central Sierra Chief, Environmental Management, California Department of Transportation, District 10, Stockton, California. 

Las Calaveras
   1988   People and Places in the High Country.  Las Calaveras, Volume XXXVI, Number 2.  Calaveras County Historical Society, San Andreas.

   1996   Camp Connell, Gateway to Ebbetts Pass.  Las Calaveras, Volume XLIV, Number 3.  Calaveras County Historical Society, San Andreas.

Marvin, Judith, and John Holson
   1993   Recordation and Eligibility Assessment of the Meiss Meadow Historic Cabin and Barn Complex.  BioSystems Analysis, Inc., Tiburon, California.  Prepared for Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Eldorado National Forest, South Lake Tahoe, California.

Maule, William M.
   1938   A Contribution to the Geographic and Economic History of the Carson, Walker, and Mono Basins in California and Nevada . California Region, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, San Francisco, California. 

   1939   Map of Alpine County. 

Noyes, Leonard Withington
   n.d.   Journal and Letters, 1850-1858.  Unpublished manuscript, on file Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts.  Typewritten copy, on file Foothill Resources, Ltd., Murphys.

Owens, Kenneth N.
   1992   Historical Trails and Roads in California, A Cultural Resources Planning Study.  Prepared for the California Department of Transportation, Sacramento.

Reed, Theron
   1864   A Map of the Silver Mountain Mining Districts.  H.H. Bancroft & Co., San Francisco.

Ryan, John P.
   n.d.   Map of the Big Meadows Area Showing Locations of the Old Big Trees Road, the New Big Trees Road, and their Relation to the Road Leading from West Point.  On file, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and Foothill Resources, Ltd., Murphys. 

San Andreas Independent
   Various Issues.  On file, Calaveras County Archives, San Andreas.

State Surveyor General
   1855   Annual Report, 1855.  Report of O.B. Powers, November 25, 1855. 

Stockton Independent
   Various Issues.  On file, Cesar Chavez Library, Stockton. 

United States Department of Agriculture
   1946   Stanislaus National Forest, California.  Mount Diablo Meridian.  Surveyed 1939.  USDA, Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 

United States Geological Survey
   1901   Big Trees Quadrangle.  Surveyed 1890-91. 

   1956   Big Meadows Quadrangle.  15 minute series. 

   1979   Boards Crossing Quadrangle.  7.5 minute series. 

   1979   Calaveras Dome Quadrangle.  7.5 minute series.

   1979   Dorrington Quadrangle.  7.5 minute series. 

   1979   Tamarack Quadrangle.  7.5 minute series.

Wheeler, Lt. George M.
   1877   Map of the Expeditions of 1876 & 1877 Under the Command of 1st. Lieut. George M. Wheeler.  Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, Washington.  Scale, 1 inch to 4 miles, or 1:253,440. 

Wood, R. Coke, with Frances E. Bishop
   1968   Big Tree-Carson Valley Turnpike, Ebbetts Pass and Highway Four.  Old timers Museum, Murphys, California.