Special Places

Mokelumne Wilderness History

On August 24 1849 a group of Mormon travellers called the Odd Fellows stopped and left their marks in Carson Pass.  This photograph shows one of many white signatures left on the granite stones.  Home  is printed across the face of this boulder next to a series of three linked rings a symbol of the Odd Fellows. Photography by Amy L. Reid. Native Americans have used the resources of the present day Mokelumne Wilderness for at least 2,000 and perhaps as long as 10,000 years. When Euro Americans first arrived in the middle of the 19th century the wilderness was part of the traditional territories of the Washoe and Sierra Miwok. These people hunted seasonally for deer, bear, and smaller game and gathered plants for food, fiber, and medicine. There is also evidence that they used portions of the wilderness as major travel routes for social interaction and trade, including abalone shells, salts, obsidian, rabbit skins, baskets, acorns, and pine nuts.

In 1848 the Mormon Battalion successfully pioneered a trail, probably following an ancient Native American route, along the northwest boundary of the Mokelumne Wilderness during a trek from Sutter's Fort to Salt Lake City. Over the next decade tens of thousands of emigrants followed this trail on the way to the California gold fields. A brief period of silver mining occurred in the wilderness in the 1860's near the Blue Lakes. By 1900 the wilderness was regularly visited by stockmen who grazed cattle and sheep in the summer. In the 1930's a trapper and guide known as Monte Wolfe constructed two cabins in the wilderness and lived there until his mysterious disappearance in 1940.