Wallace, just on the Calaveras County side of the border with San Joaquin Co., was the creation of the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad and was named for John Wallace, the railroad’s chief engineer/surveyor. When the narrow gauge SJ&SN arrived in October 1882 on its way east from Lodi, the railroad honored Wallace–who located the line–by naming the town after him. The nearby place called Catts Camp, a Gold Rush mining camp and waystation founded by Samuel Catts, then disappeared. Wallace, in turn, would decline as the railroad moved on to Burson and then Valley Springs. Of particular historical note is that Wallace has a connection to Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. John Wallace’s younger brother, Alfred Russel Wallace, was one of the most famous naturalists of his time. Other than Darwin, he was the man most responsible for developing and popularizing the theories of evolution and natural selection in the 19th century. Though John Wallace never lived in Wallace, the town is the only inhabited place on the globe named after a member of his family.
by Sal Manna, 2010