Where is Mormon Island?
In California, United States
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We chose to place a cache with historical information on the old town site to honor its recent reappearance. We chose the placement for this cache since the usual natural cover for a cache was already there-just waiting for someone to place a container under them! (We originally thought we had found an unpublished cache, just to find the site empty.) The container is a medium-sized pill container. CONGRATS to StealthCowboy for the FTF!
Mormon Island, once an important gold rush town, is now buried under Folsom Lake. It was situated where the North and South Forks of the American River come together. The “island” was formed by the American River on the western, northern, and eastern sides and a man-made canal formed the southern side. The canal was used to divert water in an effort to find gold deeper within the river bed. Over time, the bulk of the town grew south of this site. An old photo of the original town is in the photo gallery.
It was one of the first mining camps to appear after the gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill and was a natural stopping point between Sutter’s Fort and Coloma. There was a store, two stage lines, a post office, four hotels, seven saloons, about 15 other businesses, and close to 2500 residents by the year 1853. This same year the first tent school was opened. This may have been the first school in the entire Gold Rush country.
The town began to decline in 1856, due to completion of the Sacramento Valley Railroad and the subsequent establishment of the town of Folsom. Even after the construction of a very fine winery, by 1880 the population was zero. During the 1940’s the town did have a few families living there. Approximately 75 years after it’s heyday the water of Folsom Lake flooded the site. By this time there was only a chicken ranch at the location.
Now all that is left of the town is a marker on Green Valley Road, east of Folsom, and the relocated Mormon Island Cemetery. This cemetery was relocated, along with the Salmon Falls Cemetery, as well as relocated graves from Prairie City which were recently unearthed during construction of an on-ramp to Highway 50 from Prairie City Road, to the El Dorado County side of the El Dorado-Sacramento county line just off Green Valley Road. There is another nice cache at this site to visit. The wetland state park which lies just west of here along Green Valley Road was also named after this old town.
When the water of Folsom Lake is very low, remains of the old town can be seen, including some foundations of buildings and an arched bridge. This occurred in late 2007 and photos are included in the gallery of this cache description.
Article that accompanied 2007 photos – photos by Craig Learoyd:
“In late November 2007, Craig Learoyd set out to find the old town of Mormon Island, a popular mining town now under Folsom Lake. The lake has become low enough to find remnants of this old city, including foundations, artifacts, and parts of this town unseen for ages. John Gladding also set out to take some pictures.”
IF YOU WALK TO THE EAST ALONG THE SIDEWALK (next to Green Valley Road) YOU CAN MAKE THIS A VERY QUICK 2-FER WITH OUR 'WINDMILL' CACHE (GC17ETX).
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 4/25/2015 7:13:29 PM Pacific Daylight Time (2:13 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum