Before the Gold Rush, Chief Walker and a tribe of Miwok Indians occupied this placid little valley, their camp located near a fine, clear spring. After the Gold Rush, things changed. With the discovery of gold in Coyote Creek, a mining camp appeared almost overnight, a camp that included a church, post office, flour mill, blacksmith, school, two distilleries, several merchandise stores, and seven saloons. Several thousand miners, a mixture of Chileans, Italians, French, English, Irish, Welsh, Danes, Mexicans, and Americans were working the placers, as well as four major mines. And as the Indians no longer had a place to live, they left.
Coyote Creek runs through a large meadow, or flat, and as a certain Mr. Douglas used to camp in the flat, the town came to be named after him. Although the main industry here was mining, many settlers planted orchards, vineyards and gardens as the ground was exceptionally fertile. It was well they did, for the placers were worked out in a short time and most of the camp’s population left, but at least the crops remained.
Douglas Flat is located two miles east of Vallecito via Hwy 4.
The Douglas Flat Schoolhouse is the oldest surviving schoolhouse in Calaveras County. Built in either 1854 or 1856, depending on which history you read, the old school building stands today much in the same condition as it did back in the Gold Rush. The schoolhouse has served the neighboring community in a number of ways: church, Sunday school, kindergarten classroom, and school office. And it still functions as a meeting place for community activities. The rear portion of the building was added at some later date, and the building may have been moved to this spot from a location closer to Coyote Creek.
The Gilleado Building is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Calaveras County. Constructed in 1851 of limestone blocks and adobe, the stone walls were later plastered over with lime to help protect against the elements. The thick stone walls served two purposes. As this structure was once used as a bank, large amounts of gold were kept here under armed guard and the stone walls helped provide protection against robbery. They also were an excellent method of insulation and kept the store quite cool, even during the hottest summers. The small window in the rear of the building is often referred to as the "Shotgun Window." Inside, the guard would keep his shotgun poised out the window, protecting the safe full of gold, ever vigilant against the threat of badmen and the wiles of the sandman. The building was damaged during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, afterwhich the walls were stabilized inside with concrete.