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Calaveras County is a county located in the Gold Country of the U.S. state of Californiamarker. Calaveras is named for the Spanish word meaning skulls, reportedly for the bones of fighters left behind after an Indian war that were discovered by Captain Gabriel Moraga. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 40,554. The county seat is San Andreasmarker. Angels Campmarker is its only incorporated city.

Calaveras Big Trees State Parkmarker, a preserve of Giant Sequoia trees, is located in the county several miles east of the town of Arnold on state highway 4. The uncommon gold telluride mineral calaverite is named for the county.

Mark Twain set his story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", in the county. Each year, the county hosts its County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, featuring a frog jumping contest, to celebrate the association with Twain's story. The celebrated California Red-legged Frog, feared absent from the county by 1969, was rediscovered in 2003.


Calaveras County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county's territory were given to Amador Countymarker in 1854 and to Alpine Countymarker in 1864.

The Spanish word calaveras means "skulls." This county takes its name from the Calaveras River which was reportedly so designated by Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga when he found, on the banks of the stream, many skulls of Native Americans who had either died of famine or had been killed in tribal conflicts over hunting and fishing grounds.

Calaveras County is not without historical significance. Mark Twain spent many of his writing years there. Its geography features beautiful landmarks, rolling hills, and giant valleys. It is also known for its friendly communities, and businesses such as agriculture management and construction engineering. It is filled with caverns, such as Mercer Caverns, that attract tourists from around the country.


Calaveras County view

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,037 square miles (2,685 km²), of which, 1,020 square miles (2,642 km²) of it is land and 17 square miles (44 km²) of it (1.62%) is water. A California Department of Forestry report lists the county's area in acres as 663,000, although the exact figure would be . There are a number of caverns located in Calaveras County.
California Caverns - Calaveras County

Cities and towns

Former Settlements

Special Districts

Special districts in Calaveras County include:
  • Altaville-Melones Fire District
  • Angels Camp Fire District
  • Bret Harte Union High School District
  • Calaveras County Air Pollution Control District
  • Calaveras Unified School District
  • Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District
  • Copperopolis Fire Protection District
  • Ebbetts Pass Fire Protection District
  • Foothill Fire District
  • Jenny Lind Fire District
  • Mark Twain Union Elementary School District
  • Mokelumne Hill Fire District
  • Murphys Fire District
  • San Andreas Fire District
  • Vallecito Union Elementary School District
  • Valley Springs Public Utilities District
  • West Point Fire District.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Transportation Infrastructure

Major highways

Public Transportation

Calaveras Transit provides service in Angels Camp, San Andreas, and other communities in the county. Intercounty connections are available to Columbia (Tuolumne County), Jackson (AmadorCounty) and Lodi (San Joaquin County)


Calaveras County Airportmarker is a general aviation airport located just southeast of San Andreas.


As of the census of 2000, there were 40,554 people, 16,469 households, and 11,742 families residing in the county. The population density was 40 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 22,946 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile (9/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.19% White, 0.75% Black or African American, 1.74% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 2.07% from other races, and 3.31% from two or more races. 6.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.7% were of German, 13.0% English, 10.7% Irish, 7.4% Italian and 7.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.5% spoke English and 4.0% Spanish as their first language.

There were 16,469 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.9% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 22.4% from 25 to 44, 31.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,022, and the median income for a family was $47,379. Males had a median income of $41,827 versus $28,108 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,420. About 8.7% of families and 11.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

Major Employers

The major Calaveras County employers include:

250-499 employees:
  • Bear Valley Ski Area

  • Forestry & Fire Protection
  • Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital
100-249 employees:
  • Bret Harte High School
  • Ironstone Vineyardsmarker
  • Calaveras High School
  • Mark Twain Convalscent Hospital
  • Mountain Machinery

Government and Politics

Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 55.0% 10,974 42.4% 8,464 2.6% 513
2004 60.9% 13,601 37.1% 8,286 2.0% 456
2000 56.1% 10,599 37.6% 7,093 6.3% 1,184
1996 48.1% 8,279 38.6% 6,646 13.3% 2,281
1992 35.3% 6,006 35.3% 5,989 29.4% 4,996
1988 56.3% 7,640 41.8% 5,674 1.9% 260
1984 64.3% 7,632 34.4% 4,081 1.3% 164
1980 58.9% 6,054 29.9% 3,076 11.2% 1,145
1976 49.1% 3,695 47.9% 3,607 3.0% 226
1972 60.8% 4,119 33.5% 2,268 5.7% 392
1968 52.2% 3,042 36.6% 2,134 11.2% 656
1964 41.6% 2,244 58.3% 3,145 0.1% 8
1960 52.6% 2,820 46.8% 2,509 0.6% 32

Calaveras is part of California's 3rd congressional district, which is held by Dan Lungren.

In the State Assembly, Calaveras is part of the 25th district, which is held by Tom Berryhill. In the State Senate, Calaveras is part of the 1st district, which is held by Dave Cox.

Past presidential elections in Calaveras County have displayed preferences for Republican candidates; the last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, although Democrat Bill Clinton lost the county by only 17 votes in 1992. By contrast, recent elections have seen a sharp upswing in Democratic voter registrations.

Calaveras County is governed by a five member Board of Supervisors.[12147]



  • "Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit: 2005 Pre-Fire Management Plan September 28, 2005 Edition," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 09-28-2005, pp. 16, 17
  • US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

See also

External links

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