Ephemeritor
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Downieville, CA. 8" x 10" Black and White Glossy. Circa 1950. Very good condition.

SKU: Downieville, CA. Town $4.95
Downieville was founded in late 1849 during the California Gold Rush, in the Northern Mines area. It was first known as "The Forks" for its geographical location at the confluence of the Downie River and North Fork of the Yuba River. It was soon renamed after Major William Downie (1820-1893), the town's founder. Downie was a Scotsman who had led an expedition of nine miners, seven of them African American men, up the North Fork of the Yuba River in the Autumn of 1849. At the present site of the town they struck rich gold, built a log cabin, and settled in to wait out the winter. He became the town's first mayor. Major Downie's travels are documented in his 1893 autobiography, "Hunting for Gold." By latter 1850 Downieville already had 15 hotels, 4 bakeries, 4 butcher shops, and numerous saloons. Downieville is the location of the first hanging of a woman in California. Josefa Segovia, a young and pregnant Californio resident of the town, was lynched by a mob on 5 July 1851. The lynch mob held a mock trial, and accused her of killing an American miner that had harassed and attempted to assault her for several days. The mock trial quickly led to hanging her from the Jersey Bridge in town. Josefa Segovia remains the only pregnant woman hanged in the history of California. In 1853 Downieville was vying to become the new state capital of California, along with fifteen other California communities to replace Vallejo. However, the capital was moved to Benicia for a year, and then in 1854 to Sacramento, its location ever since. The Northern Mines area of the gold rush had a number of mining camps with colorful names, such as Brandy City (originally known as Strychnine City), Whiskey Diggins, Poverty Hill, Poker Flat, and Camptonville. Many of these camps disappeared after the gold rush, or are ghost towns. Downieville had reached a peak population of over 5,000 people in 1851, but by 1865 had significantly declined. It survived due to its status as the county seat of government in Sierra County, and from its geographic location between Sacramento Valley and Tahoe region/Nevada destinations.