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California Counties The U.S. state of California is divided into fifty-eight counties.
On January 4, 1850, the California constitutional committee recommended the formation of 18 counties. They were
Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mount Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San
Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter. On April 22, the Counties of Branciforte, Calaveras, Coloma, Colusi, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Trinity, and Yuba were added. Benicia was
renamed Solano, Coloma to El Dorado, Fremont to Yola, Mt. Diablo to Contra Costa, San Jose to Santa Clara, Oro
to Tuolumne, and Redding to Shasta. One of the first state legislative acts regarding Counties was to rename
Branciforte County to Santa Cruz, Colusi to Colusa, and Yola to Yolo.
The last California county to have been established is Imperial County in 1907.
Alpine County, California
Alpine County History, Geography, and Demographics
County Seat: Markleeville
Year Organized: 1864
Square Miles: 739
P.O. BOX 158 (99 Water Street)
Markleeville, CA 96120-0158
Etymology - Origin of County Name
It derived its name from the English word alpine meaning "of,
pertaining to, or connected with, the Alps." Lying as it does on the crest of
the Sierra Nevada mountains, its geographical position makes it particularly an
alpine county, and hence its name.
County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick
Alpine County was created in 1854 during a silver boom in the wake of the nearby Comstock Lode discovery. The county
was formed from parts of Amador, El Dorado, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties. At its formation, the county had a
population of about 11,000. By 1868 however, the local silver mines had proven unfruitful, and the population fell to
The first to call Alpine County home were the native Washo people, who occupied the mountains and valleys of western
Nevada and eastern California. Living in harmony with the land, the Washo excelled in basketry and spent their summers
around the shores of Lake Tahoe, while a southern band of the tribe , the Hung Lel Ti, lived around the Diamond Valley
area of Alpine County. The earliest explorers through the region included Jedediah Smith and Joseph Walker, but it was
John Fremont and Kit Carson, in their famous midwinter trip across Alpine County and the Sierra Nevada in 1844 that
brought attention to possible travel routes across the range.
Followed in 1848 by members of the Mormon Battalion and a year later by the Gold Rush '49ers, the Carson Route of the
California Emigrant Road, now Highway 88, was the most heavily used road to California in those early years.
However, it took silver, not gold, to bring settlement to Alpine County. Following the discovery of the Comstock Lode
near Virginia City in 1859, thousands of prospectors swarmed into the eastern Sierra Nevada looking for riches. A year
earlier, a group of Scandinavian men had discovered rich silver outcrops near Silver Creek and established the town of
For the next several years, the population grew, and while there was plenty of mining activity, there was a scarcity of
paying ore. Nearby, the towns of Monitor and Mt. Bullion grew from the hills, fostered by the belief in another
'Comstock' just around the corner.
In 1861, one Jacob Marklee took up a 160 acre claim and built a bridge and toll station on the banks of a stream
crossing the road from Genoa, Nevada ten miles north of Silver Mountain City. Killed in a gunfight in 1863, Marklee
would give his name to the future County seat, Markleeville, and creek of the same name.
Bolstered by the much ballyhooed silver boom, and fed by local politicians, Alpine County was created in 1864 from parts
of adjacent counties, while the population had grown to more than 11,000. Miners also left the rich gold fields of Bodie
only 80 miles away. Silver Mountain was the first County Seat of Alpine County. The excitement was short-lived. As the
Silver Mountain ore proved too stubborn to recover at a profit, men began to leave the area, and by 1868, Alpine County
had fewer than 1200 people. The finishing blow came with the demonitization of silver in 1873, collapsing prices and
closing the remaining mines.
Markleeville stood ready to succeed its neighbor as County seat, which was accomplished in 1875. Despite its own loss of
population, the town had begun to develop into a trade center for the ranching and lumber business, which were still
supplying the booming Comstock Lode mines. In 1885, Markleeville suffered a terrible fire, but the town was quickly
rebuilt. Several buildings, including the Fisk Hotel (formerly the Alpine Hotel) now the Wolfcreek Restaurant and the
log jail were moved from Silver Mountain, though with a reduced population, many lots remained vacant.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 743 square miles (1,925 kmē), of
which, 739 square miles (1,913 kmē) of it is land and 5 square miles (12 kmē) of it (0.61%) is water.
- Northeast: Douglas County, Nev.
- Southeast: Mono County
- South: Tuolumne County
- Southwest: Calaveras County
- West: Amador County
- Northwest: El Dorado County
Cities and Towns:
- Markleeville (County Seat)
Enter County Resources and Information Here
The history of our nation was a prolonged struggle to define
the relative roles and powers of our governments: federal, state, and local.
And the names given the counties
, our most locally based jurisdictions,
reflects the "characteristic features of this country!"