Amador City

Amador City (and in turn Amador County) gets its name from José María Amador, who owned Rancho San Ramon in present-day Contra Costa County. After word of the 1848 gold discoveries at Sutter's Mill reached the Rancho, Amador traveled with a Frenchman named Sausevain to see for himself. Dissatisfied with what they found, they returned home for the time being. In June 1848, they returned and learned of dry placers about 26 miles to the south. Amador sent Sausevain and a man named Sunol to start working, joining them later. The three formed a team of twenty Indians to mine for them, retrieving seven to nine pounds of gold each day. Amador also successfully traded cattle with miners in the area. In 1849, Amador left the mines and returned to his Rancho with thousands of dollars, but not before his name had become applied to Amador Creek.

Meanwhile, a number of other prospectors had arrived at Amador Creek. By the end of 1849, a camp with a number of tents and cabins had developed, which became known as Amador Crossing, being the point where the road connecting Drytown to Sutter Creek crossed the creek. In February 1851, Baptist minister S. A. Davidson of Tennessee discovered gold-bearing quartz, and a number of new claims were quickly staked thereafter along the creek, and the settlement shifted to its current location about half a mile downstream.

The most productive mine in Amador City, the Keystone, came into being in 1853 as the consolidation of claims sold at a Sheriff's sale. It remained a relatively small operation until 1866 when a large strike was made. In the first month after that strike, over $40,000 was produced. The high yield continued, bringing Amador City to a recorded population of nearly 1000 when it reached its peak around 1890. The mine continued to produce in smaller amounts until 1919, by which time Amador City's population dropped to less than 400. The Keystone opened one final time from 1935 until it was forced to close in 1942 due to World War II. Total production of the mine is estimated at $24,000,000.

Today, Amador City has dwindled to a population of less than 200, and it is recognized as the smallest city area-wise in the state. A fire in 1878 destroyed almost all of the early buildings, but a number of fire-proof structures dating to just after the fire still line the quiet Main Street.

I Visited Amador City

See Also
Sutter Creek