Bear Valley

California State Historic Landmark 331

Plaque exists. Site exists. Landmark location.

Plaque Photo:

#331 Bear Valley
First called Johnsonville. Bear Valley had a population of 3,000 including Chinese, Cornish, and Mexicans. During 1850-60 when Col. John C. Fremont's Pine Tree and Josephine mines were producing. Fremont's elegant hotel, Oso House, built with lumber brought around the Horn, no longer stands. After fire in 1888, structures were rebuilt. Some still standing are Bon Ton Saloon, Trabucco Store, Odd Fellows Hall, school house, & remains of jail, all reminders of Bear Valley's colorful past.

#331 Bear Valley
Headquarters of Col. John C. Fremont, world-famous American, who, in 1847, purchased a floating Mexican grant of 44,000 acres for $3000. After gold was discovered, he floated his grant to include the Mother Lode gold belt from Mariposa to Merced River. After costly litigation, his title was confirmed by Supreme Court in 1859.
He worked his rich placers by grubstaking experienced Mexican miners before the influx of Americans and subsequently he opened up rich quartz mines. In 1851 he built a two story hotel and later a large store and his home, called "The White House." Horace Greeley visited here in 1859 and wrote "the Colonel is now operating two stamp mills and netting $100,000 a year." In 1863, he sold his grant for $6,000,000.

Site Photo:



Hwy 49 (PM 29.2), Bear Valley.

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Donald Laird