Fiddletown
(Oleta)

Fiddletown was founded in 1849 by a group from Missouri. There are a range of supposed stories as to why the name was chosen, including that the Missourians liked to play the fiddle or that the aptly-named Dry Creek would go dry throughout the year, causing prospectors to pass the time by fiddling while they waited for rains to resume their placer mining. At any rate, Fiddletown grew extremely slowly until a rich discovery was made nearby in 1852. This led not only to the growth of Fiddletown, but also the establishment of surrounding camps for which Fiddletown became the trading center. By the mid-1850s, the area had a few thousand residents, which included a sizeable Chinese population. By 1853, the town also had a sawmill built by H.C. Farnham & James McLeod.

By the 1870s the placer gold had played out and, lacking the deep quartz mines that other towns had, Fiddletown began to fade - though it never completely died. However, in ealy 1878 the name Fiddletown did. Judge Columbus Allen Purington successfully petitioned the state legislature to have the name changed to Oleta because he was embarrased to be known as the "man from Fiddletown" when traveling to San Francisco and Sacramento.

The name Oleta held on until 1932. During the camp's 83rd anniversary, it was questioned why the name was Oleta when Fiddletown was more proper given the town's history. A petition was signed by all 64 residents and submitted to the U.S. Postal Service (the name change no longer required an act of legislature), and by the middle of the year the name Fiddletown was restored.

I Visited Fiddletown
9.10.2018

See Also
Fiddletown Preservation Society*
*Outside Link

Bibliography