Monday, September 5, 2011

Chinese Camp, Tuolumne County, California



We were driving to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco, when we passed several dusty, small towns between Stockton and Mariposa.  One had just a few houses and a closed general store with a sign “Chinese Camp”.  The name of the town made us all smile, as it certainly looked like a ghost town from the Gold Rush era.  A few miles later I remembered that one of my distant Wilkinson cousins in my genealogical database was buried in the cemetery at Chinese Camp, California.  We vowed to stop again for a photo the next time we passed by.

An abandoned building at Chinese Camp
Well, it took seven years, but recently we did the drive again to Yosemite from San Francisco, and remembered to stop in Chinese Camp along Route 49.    Some of the very first Chinese laborers in California were settled here in 1849.  Although the population of Chinese Camp was only 126 souls in 2010, at one time there were over 5,000 Chinese people living here.  Several historical markers tell the history of the town, but it mostly abandoned and does not appear to be visited by many tourists.  It certainly is not commercialized or a "Disney" place to visit, and actually is quite spooky and overgrown.  We never would have stopped if I didn't have a distant relative buried nearby. 
This was the old post office, and
also served as a Wells Fargo office

This appeared to have once been a home
We drove around the town, but it seemed to be mostly abandoned buildings near the highway, with the houses near the store apparently lived in, although we only saw two people.  The general store is only open on weekends.  Across the street from the store is the gate to the cemetery, which is not visible from the road.  It is located about a half mile up the dirt road, and through another gate.  Neither gate was locked, but we had to get out of the car, open it up, and then close it as we passed through.   I’ll post the cemetery photos for Tombstone Tuesday.


For the truly curious:

History of Chinese Camp, by the Tuolumne County Historic Preservation Review Commission, 1994

Woman Keeps Chinese Camp History AliveThe Union Democrat, 29 November 2009, by Joshua Wolfson, story at this link http://www.uniondemocrat.com/2005112985769/News/Local-News/Woman-keeps-Chinese-Camp-history-alive

A slide show of abandoned Chinese Camp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bloCr4PI3nk

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Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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