Named for the fine springs which gush forth from between two limestone boulders as the source of Mormon Creek, Springfield was reportedly the only mining camp in the Mother Lode where a church was built before the gambling houses. Yet even with this auspicious beginning, the town was destined to disappear, leaving only the wild grass and the plentiful, oddly misshapen limestone boulders as its mining legacy.
The townsite of Springfield was centered on a plaza which was about four hundred feet long and two hundred and fifty feet wide. In a letter dated November 25 of 1854, miner George Hobbs states that Springfield "was considered the best camp in the vicinity." The town spread out over a square mile, and was filled with stores, shops, hotels, homes, and close to a thousand inhabitants. A Methodist Episcopal Church and a division of the Sons of Temperance contributed to Springfield’s reputation, noted for the "quiet orderliness and sobriety of its citizens." The post office was established in 1857 and lasted until 1868.
The most fascinating items left from Springfield’s mining days are the tons of eerie, twisted, limestone rocks everywhere you look. Before the miners arrived, the area was fairly level and covered with large oak trees which shaded the gravels that hid the gold. The miners cut down the oaks, carted up the paydirt, and headed for the springs which provided enough water to keep several hundred men busy at their placer operations. The dirt was rich. Some cartloads were said to have yielded as much as $1,000 each, and in June of 1854, a three-pound lump of quartz was picked up containing one pound of pure gold. When the miners were through, they and the gold were gone, the ground level was lower by some ten to fifteen feet, and the limestone boulders were left naked and worn, much as they are today.
The Armory Building stands near the Town Monument on Springfield road, one of many Gold Rush ruins on a silent vigil against time and vandals. A wooden building first stood on this site, but was consumed in the flames of an 1853 fire. By the spring of 1854, a two-story brick building had taken its place. The lower floor served temporarily as a Methodist church, while the upper floor was used for various group meetings. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Methodists moved to another location and the building was used for a short time as an armory. School was taught here for a number of years, which may have caused the addition of a wooden kitchen at the front of the building. Exactly when the top floor was removed is not known.