Mariposa County Points of Interest

Hornitos Calabozo Typical 19th Century Stonemasonry
In the California Mother Lode Country

28 October 2012
(Click Photos to Zoom)

High Road
Built c1854

The Hornitos jail was probably built in 1851 of heavy stone blocks quarried and transported from nearby hills by Chinese labor.

The three-foot-thick walls rest on bedrock. A huge iron ring is embedded in center of floor and other iron rings are affixed to the walls for shackling prisoners.

Source: Historic American Buildings Survey

The plaque over the door reads:

To remember the Hornitos Calabozo's welcome to the 1854 brethren "Credo Quia Absurdum"

Dedicated by the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus
May 8, 1954

Gold Rush Stonemasons

Mining camps started as clusters of tents and other makeshift shelters. If the mine was productive, wooden buildings were erected and a town was born.

Conflagrations were a recurring curse. Often entire town were repeatedly destroyed by fire. Stonemasons, especially Italian immigrants from Liguria, began building "fire proof" banks and stores of stone or brick with iron doors and iron window shutters to protect the contents from fire.

Many of these stone buildings survive. Some of them, such as the Butte Store, are the sole reminders of a lost mining town.

Some of these buildings are:

Butte Store in Amador County
Calabozo in Hornitos
Civil War Armory in Georgetown
Compere Store in Murphys
Downieville Museum in Downieville

Fountain & Tallman Soda Works in Placerville
Gamble Building in Big Oak Flat
Hirshfeldter Building in Downieville
Honigsberger Store in Copperopolis
Italian Store in Douglas Flat

Kohler Store in Washington
Mackerman & Company Building in Downieville
Masonic Lodge in Columbia
Masonic Lodge in Hornitos
Nevada Brewery in Nevada City

Nevada Theatre in Nevada City
Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat
Old Segale Building in Murphys
Old Stone Garage in Truckee
Plymouth Trading Post in Plymouth

Pearson Soda Works in Placerville
Sam Choy Store in Angels Camp
Stage Stop in La Grange
Valente Building in Murphys
Watts & Tannahill Company Store in Groveland

Wells Fargo Bank and Stage Stop in Georgetown
Wells Fargo Express in Chinese Camp
Wells Fargo Express in French Corral
Wells Fargo & Company in North San Juan

Historic Jailhouses

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