We visited Hornitos, a small gold rush era town located on county road J-16 in Mariposa County, and made images of the historic town for use in our video tour of the town. Hornitos has largely been bypassed by the modern world. There are no gas stations, fast food outlets, or shopping centers. It may seem like a ghost town but there are 75 inhabitants, a Post Office, bar, and a gift shop.
The name Hornitos is a diminutive of the Spanish word ”horno" or small oven. Mexicans who settled here during the gold rush built many outdoor beehive shaped adobe ovens in the early days. Starting in 1850 Hornitos was the business and cultural center of an active hard rock gold mining district. Large-scale mining activity continued until the early 1900s. The last gold mine shut down in the mid-1900s.
Now the plaza, once the center of a thriving town, is mostly quiet. Along with the scattering of historic commercial buildings is a city park, community hall, homes, abandoned buildings, and ruins. It’s not hard to imagine what the town was like in the 1860s when there were four hotels, six general stores, a Wells Fargo Express office, several fandango halls and saloons, various other businesses, and a population of several thousand.
We hope you enjoy our video tour which includes images of historic buildings along with their history. The video is best enjoyed in full screen mode.
Download a 7-page tour of Hornitos, California, including a brief history, building descriptions, and a map (PDF).