Amador County, California

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Amador County, California
County of Amador
The Amador County foothills in April 2007
The Amador County foothills in April 2007
Flag of Amador County, California
Official seal of Amador County, California
Nickname(s): "The Heart of the Mother Lode"
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States of America
State  California
Region Sierra Nevada
Incorporated May 11, 1854
County seat Jackson
Largest city Ione (population and area)
 • Total 606 sq mi (1,570 km2)
 • Land 595 sq mi (1,540 km2)
 • Water 11.4 sq mi (30 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 38,091
 • Density 63/sq mi (24/km2)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 209

Amador County, officially the County of Amador, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 38,091.[1] The county seat is Jackson.[2]

It is located in the Sierra Nevada.

Amador County bills itself as "The Heart of the Mother Lode" and lies within the Gold Country. There is a substantial viticultural industry in the county.


Dr. Charles Boarman (1828-1880), son of Rear Admiral Charles Boarman, and his family were among the first people to settle in the area. He served as the first county physician and coroner from 1863 to 1880.
The Amador County Courthouse consists of two buildings, the second courthouse (built 1864) and the Hall of Records (1893), that were enclosed and combined in 1939 with an Art Deco exterior.[3]

Amador County was created by the California Legislature on May 11, 1854.[4] The county later split into Amador, Calaveras and El Dorado Counties.[citation needed] It was organized on July 3, 1854.[4] In 1864, part of the county's territory was given to Alpine County.

The county is named for José María Amador, soldier, rancher and miner, who was born in San Francisco in 1794,[5] the son of Sergeant Pedro Amador (a Spanish soldier who settled in California in 1771) and younger brother to Sinforosa Amador.

In 1848, Jose Maria Amador, with several Native Americans, established a successful gold mining camp near the present town of Amador City. In Spanish, the word amador means "one who loves." Some of the Mother Lode's most successful gold mines were located in Amador County, including the Kennedy, Argonaut and the Keystone.

"The Luck of Roaring Camp" is a short story by American author Bret Harte. It was first published in the August 1868 issue of the Overland Monthly and helped push Harte to international prominence. Harte lived in this area during his "Gold Rush" period, and possibly based the story in a mining camp on the Mokelumne River.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 606 square miles (1,570 km2), of which 595 square miles (1,540 km2) is land and 11.4 square miles (30 km2) (1.9%) is water.[6] It is the fifth-smallest county in California by land area and second-smallest by total area. Water bodies in the county include Lake Amador, Lake Camanche, Pardee Reservoir, Bear River Reservoir, Silver Lake, Sutter Creek, Cosumnes River, Mokelumne River, and Tabeaud Lake.

Amador County is located approximately 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Sacramento in the part of California known as the Mother Lode, or Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada.

Amador County ranges in elevation from approximately 250 feet (76 m) in the western portion of the county to over 9,000 feet (2,700 m) in the eastern portion of the county. The county is bordered on the north by the Cosumnes River and El Dorado County and on the south by the Mokelumne River and Calaveras County, on the west by Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties, and the east by Alpine County.

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]

Shenandoah Valley[edit]

A Cabernet Sauvignon from Amador County.
Amador Vineyard

Though not as well known as the Napa Valley AVA or Sonoma Valley AVA viticultural regions of California, the Shenandoah Valley was once the principal viticultural region of California.[7] With the discovery of gold, the area quickly became a mecca for those trying to make their fortune. In the process numerous wineries sprouted up, many of whose vineyards are still in use by wineries today. The decline of the California Gold Rush coupled with the onset of prohibition devastated the wine-making region of Amador County. Today this area has been resurrected and is now home to over 40 different wineries. Amador County is renowned for its Zinfandel, but many other varietals are produced as well. Amador County has a high percentage of old Zinfandel vines. Some of the Zinfandel vineyards in this county are more than 125 years old, including the original Grandpère vineyard, planted with Zinfandel before 1869 and believed to be the oldest Zinfandel vineyard in America.[8] This 10-acre (40,000 m2) vineyard is home to some of the oldest Zinfandel vines on Earth, with proof of their existence dating to 1869 when it was listed as a descriptor on a deed from the U.S. Geological Survey. A grant deed in Amador County records further proves their existence in 1869. These old vines produce intense flavors allowing winemakers to make outstanding Zinfandels.

Gold mining[edit]

There are numerous gold mines in Amador County including the Argonaut Mine, the Kennedy Mine, the Central Eureka, and the Lincoln. The Kennedy Mine in Jackson was the deepest gold mine of its time. All of the Mother Lodes's mines were closed in 1942 by the government because they were considered non-essential to the war effort. Recently the Sutter Gold Mining Company has attempted to re-open the Lincoln Mine just north of Sutter Creek. If the mine successfully reaches the operation phase, it will be the first corporately funded, large scale underground gold mine in the area in over 70 years.


Amador County is home of the Gold Rush era in California. Many century-old gold-mining places in the county are now popular tourist destinations. Amador County offers several tourists destinations and things to do:

  • Jackson Main Street – antique shops
  • Sutter Creek Main Street – antique shops, [2] Sutter Creek Theater
  • Jackson Rancheria – casino and hotel built in 1986 by Larry Graham Construction
  • Volcano Theater Company and the Cobblestone Theater and the St. George Hotel in Volcano
  • Mace Meadows Golf Course in Pioneer
  • Old Mill Shopping Center in Martell
  • Underground caves with tours (Black Chasm in Volcano)
  • Campgrounds areas with gold-panning activities
  • Wineries with wine-tasting activities
  • Mokelumne River – fishing, gold panning, whitewater kayaking, swimming, picnics, water play
  • Lakes for boating and fishing
  • Winter Ski Resorts – for skiers, snowboarders, etc.
  • Outdoor Activities – camping, fishing, picnicking, ATV riding, backpacking, hiking, lake kayaking, horseback riding, whitewater kayaking, birding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, etc.
  • Historic sites: Kennedy Mine in Jackson, Chew Kee Store in Fiddletown, Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek

Roaring Camp Mining Company


Major highways[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

Amador Regional Transit System (ARTS) provides service in Jackson and nearby communities. Connections to Calaveras County and Sacramento are additionally provided.


Amador County Airport is a general aviation airport located near Jackson.


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]



Places by population, race, and income[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 10,930
1870 9,582 −12.3%
1880 11,384 18.8%
1890 10,320 −9.3%
1900 11,116 7.7%
1910 9,086 −18.3%
1920 7,793 −14.2%
1930 8,494 9.0%
1940 8,973 5.6%
1950 9,151 2.0%
1960 9,990 9.2%
1970 11,821 18.3%
1980 19,314 63.4%
1990 30,039 55.5%
2000 35,100 16.8%
2010 38,091 8.5%
Est. 2013 36,519 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
1790-1960[20] 1900-1990[21]
1990-2000[22] 2010-2013[1]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Amador County had a population of 38,091. The racial makeup of Amador County was 33,149 (87.0%) White, 962 (2.5%) African American, 678 (1.8%) Native American, 419 (1.1%) Asian, 77 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 1,450 (3.8%) from other races, and 1,356 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,756 persons (12.5%).[23]


As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 35,100 people, 12,759 households, and 9,071 families residing in the county. The population density was 59 people per square mile (23/km²). There were 15,035 housing units at an average density of 25 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 85.8% White, 3.9% Black or African American, 1.8% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.0% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. 8.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.9% were of German, 12.6% English, 11.7% Irish, 8.8% Italian and 7.3% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.1% spoke English and 5.1% Spanish as their first language.

There were 12,759 households out of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.9% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 23.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.6% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 122.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 123.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,280, and the median income for a family was $51,226. Males had a median income of $39,697 versus $28,850 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,412. About 6.1% of families and 9.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.1% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.


Voter registration statistics[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 58.2% 8,903 39.2% 6,001 2.6% 399
2008 56.3% 10,561 41.7% 7,813 2.0% 395
2004 62.1% 11,107 36.6% 6,541 1.3% 243
2000 56.7% 8,766 38.2% 5,906 5.1% 792
1996 47.5% 6,870 40.6% 5,868 11.9% 1,714
1992 35.5% 5,477 34.3% 5,286 30.3% 4,671
1988 55.9% 6,893 42.1% 5,197 2.0% 148
1984 61.5% 6,986 36.9% 4,188 1.7% 189
1980 55.9% 5,401 33.0% 3,191 11.1% 1,078
1976 46.1% 3,699 50.4% 4,037 3.5% 282
1972 53.4% 3,533 40.9% 2,705 5.7% 378
1968 42.1% 2,269 45.3% 2,440 12.6% 681
1964 33.0% 1,682 66.9% 3,410 0.1% 6
1960 44.5% 2,175 55.0% 2,690 0.5% 22
Election results from statewide races
Year Office Results
2010 Governor Whitman 52.4 - 41.6%
Lieutenant Governor Maldonado 52.1 - 33.4%
Secretary of State Dunn 50.5 - 38.5%
Controller Chiang 50.4 - 40.2%
Treasurer Walters 48.3 - 42.9%
Attorney General Cooley 59.1 - 27.8%
Insurance Commissioner Villines 50.6 - 35.1%
2006 Governor Schwarzenegger 72.1 - 22.5%
Lieutenant Governor McClintock 56.8 - 38.3%
Secretary of State McPherson 62.0 - 31.2%
Controller Strickland 52.4 - 40.2%
Treasurer Parrish 49.0 - 42.5%
Attorney General Poochigian 52.7 - 42.0%
Insurance Commissioner Poizner 62.9 - 25.4%

Amador is a strongly Republican county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Amador County is in California's 4th congressional district, represented by Republican Tom McClintock.[26] In the State Assembly, the county is in the 5th Assembly District, represented by Republican Frank Bigelow.[27] In the State Senate, the county is in the 14th Senate District, represented by Republican Tom Berryhill.[28] Amador County will become a part of Senate District 8 in December 2014 after the November 2014 elections due to the redistricting finalized by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2011.[29]



Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated places[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  2. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  3. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  4. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ [1], Judicial Council of California. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Whittle, Syd (8 September 2008). "1854 · Amador County · 1954". The Historical Marker Database. J. J. Prats. Retrieved 14 May 2012.  (historical marker placed by Board of Supervisors and Amador County Historical Society, 1954)
  5. ^ William Bright; Erwin Gustav Gudde (30 November 1998). 1500 California place names: their origin and meaning. University of California Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-520-21271-8. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ Costa, Eric J (January 1, 1994). Old vines: A history of winegrowing in Amador County. Jackson, CA: Cenotto Publications. pp. v,46. ISBN 0-938121-08-1. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Golden Oldies / There's more than just fruit in old-vine Zinfandel - its earthy flavors are history in a bottle - SFGate". Hearst Communications Inc. 2005-07-28. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  11. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  12. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  14. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. ^ a b Data unavailable
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  23. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  24. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  26. ^ "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Senate District 8". State of California. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°26′N 120°40′W / 38.44°N 120.66°W / 38.44; -120.66