California Historical Landmarks in Amador County

California Historical Landmark 28
Maiden's Grave
El Dorado National Forest

Maiden's Grave

It is said that in 1850 a young girl, Rachel Melton, native of Iowa, was accompanying her parents on a journey West via covered wagon train when she became violently ill. Camp was made and every effort was made to cure her, as she was the joy of the party, but she passed away and was buried on this spot.

Citation from California Office of Historic Preservation

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California Historical Landmark #28: Maiden's Grave
Rechall Melton
Oct. 4, 1850
Native of Iowa
Erected by Guests at Kirkwood

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Broken dreams and hope, carried 2000 miles through scorching deserts and over lofty mountains. At last...the sight of the Promise Land. Those of you who visit this grave carry a torch of love and hope (which this young girl lost), and pass it on, to generations unborn.

Rechall Melton was laid to rest here, on a cold and frosty morning, Oct. 4, 1850. Blessed are the pure in heart for they....

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California Historical Landmark #28: Maiden's Grave All Photos 7 October 2007
(Click Photos to Enlarge)

Who Is Really Buried in the Maiden's Grave

Who is the maiden? Who is buried here if not the maiden?

Maiden's Grave is a popular roadside stop that commemorates the death of a young woman during the overland migration in 1850. Around 1900 an elderly woman looking for the gravesite of her daughter started a series of events that identified the wrong grave as that of her daughter.

At two different times, two headstones were installed at a location along busy Highway 88. This site came to honor the maiden and many others that died on their journey to California. Historical research in 1989 disclosed that a young man was buried here and that the young woman or maiden was buried in a meadow two miles to the east.

On October 4, 1850, William Edmondson wrote in his diary, "After traveling 6 miles we came to Tragedy Springs...After traveling two miles further, we came to a trading post about noon where we camped having come 8 miles today. A young man from Henry County named Allen Melton died at this place during the night."

Allen Melton was buried near here. No one knows the exact location because of highway realignment when rocks marking the original location were moved. This memorial commemorates the life and death of Allen Melton of Henry County, Iowa and all the others who suffered and died during the great western migration.

Dedicated October 4, 2004

Marker dedicated jointly with Amador County Sesquicentennial Committee
United States Forest Service
Amador County Historical Society
Oregon California Trails Association

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