KC Rush Creek-14Rush Creek Groundbreaking - Lee and Brian

Rush Creek History

Rush Creek had its heyday during California’s Gold Rush.  Gold was discovered in California in January 1848 at Sutter’s Mill, just 125 miles north of Rush Creek. By 1849 hundreds of thousands of immigrants – now known as 49er’s – were flocking to California’s Gold Country in search of their fortunes.  Historical records describe the Rush Creek property’s use for gold prospecting, mining and processing.

A trail for miners reached from Stockton and other areas of the Central Valley to the gold camps of southern Tuolumne County including Sonora, Chinese Camp, and Big Oak Flat.  Prospects and mining operations dotted the landscape of the foothills around Rush Creek and Big Oak Flat.  Eventually wagon trails crisscrossed the area, and in 1874 the Big Oak Flat Road into Yosemite Valley was completed, passing through Crocker Meadow immediately southwest of the Rush Creek property.  This route carried the majority of Park traffic from Central and Northern California before the completion of the Yosemite Valley Railroad and accompanying wagon road in 1907.

With the Big Oak Flat Road into Yosemite passing through his Ranch, Henry R. Crocker built and operated “Crocker’s Sierra Resort” in what is today known as Crocker’s Meadow.  A mile away the most important mine in the district, the Santa Maria, was enjoying much greater success with their production. This lead “Crocker’s Sierra Resort” to become the post office and social and commercial center for the region.  Locals referred to it as “Crocker’s Station” or simply “Sequoia” at times.

By 1888, Crocker was assessed $500 for the value of his Quartz mine, arrastra, and house on the property. Ten years later the value of his mine was so low that the County Assessor dropped it from the rolls.  As the saying goes, it was a mining claim that just didn’t pan out!

Enter Thomas Jefferson Quimby who continued the quest for ore.  The mine was eventually abandoned for several years, and then claimed in 1911 by Thomas Knowles, who also had little luck finding valuable minerals at Rush Creek.  However, the old arrastra and other historic remains from the Gold Rush era still exist onsite at Rush Creek and in the neighboring forest.

Before Highway 120 was constructed in the 1960’s, the main road into Yosemite actually passed right through Rush Creek.  The upper road near Villas 4-7 is in fact that exact road.  Around the time Highway 120 was built, a guest house was constructed at Rush Creek to serve Yosemite visitors.  The guest house also served as a one room schoolhouse for the children living nearby.

We’re always on the hunt for more historic information about Rush Creek, so if you or someone you know has ties to the history of the area, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected]!