This old mining town, located on the banks of the Calaveras River, started out as a rich camp back in the early 1850’s. The river received its name from Gabriel Moraga who visited the region in 1806. Believed to be the first white man to enter what is now Calaveras County, he found many skulls along the banks of the river below San Andreas, prompting him to call it Calaveras, meaning “skulls” in Spanish. The river was rich and was widely worked during the Gold Rush. Placering, hydraulic mining, and dredging all took place in this area.
Within a year the population of the camp was well over four hundred, a large number of the miners being Mexican and Chinese. The town had four general stores, two billiard halls, a bowling alley, smithy, post office, two hotels, saloons, churches and many homes. Being on the main road from Stockton, it was also an important freighting center for the area.
Several accounts of how the town was named exist, but no one really knows which one is true. Did the famous Swedish singer, Jenny Lind, really tour California during her American visit? (No) Was the town founded and named for Dr. John Y. Lind? (Maybe) Did the braying of pack mules prompt the miners to use the singer’s name in sarcastic humor? (Who knows) What is true and known is that the “Swedish Nightingale,” Jenny Lind, did tour the eastern cities in 1850-1852, managed by the great P. T. Barnum. Her tour created a furor of excitement throughout America and her name became famous across the country. The camp was most likely named in her honor, even though she never set foot in California.
Jenny Lind is located twelve miles south of Valley Springs via Hwy 26.
The Rosenberg Store Ruins are the last remaining Gold Rush elements in Jenny Lind today. Chinese coolies quarried the stone blocks used in constructing this store from the local hills. They then carted the stones to the site in wheeled contraptions similar to our wheelbarrows, but with the bed on a swinging pivot. Rosenberg’s store stocked men’s clothing and was advertised as supplying the “Correct Attire for the Miner or Prospector.” Today only portions of the walls remain, around a slowly filling excavation which was the basement.