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California Genealogy and History Archives


Alpine County History

A Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California
Chicago, Lewis Publ. Co., 1891



The name of this county denotes its origin, the topography and scenery of the region it covers being of the most pronounced Alpine type. The word literally is derived from Alps, and this again from the Celtic root alb, signifying white, referring to the snowy summits.

        For boundaries this county has the State of Nevada on north and east, Mono County on the east, Mono and Tuolumne counties on the south, and Calaveras, Amador, and El Dorado on the west. The county was organized by act of the Legislature March 16, 1864.

        Alpine is a mass of mountains, cleft by a few deep valleys, its altitude ranging from four thousand five hundred to eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea. Half the county lies along the easterly slope of the Sierra Nevadas, its westerly boundary being the crest of these mountains. Standing to the east is the lofty outlying peak known as Silver Mountain, connected with the main Sierra by a notched and jagged cross chain, which, seen from the north, presents a contour diversified along its whole extent by precipitous cliffs, turreted rocks, and far upshooting spires, resembling at some points a vast cathedral, and at others a castellated ruin. There is not in the State a more picturesque, wild, and broken district than this.

        Few counties in California are better watered and timbered than Alpine. The two main forks of the Carson River, having many confluents, some of them large streams, traverse the county centrally from north to south. These streams serve the double purpose of furnishing conduits for floating down timber and fuel to the country below, and an immense water power, which can be made easily available for the propulsion of machinery. Although most of the timber in the valley and along the foothills has been cut away, the Comstock mines having obtained much of their timber and fuel here, the mountains further back are still covered with heavy forests, the inroads made upon them by the woodman being inconsiderable.

        Alpine County was represented in the Legislature of 1885 by R. J. Van Voorhies; in 1887 by A. J. Gould; and for the other years see under head of Amador and other adjoining counties.


Transcribed by Kathy Sedler.