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Mosquito, CA a brief history

The following is an excerpt from Paolo Sioli’s book – History of El Dorado County

California written in 1883. A full version of that book is available at the

following http://www.archive.org/details/historicalsouven00siol and is no longer in

copy write.


MOSQUITO VALLEY,

A flourishing settlement, exists in Mosquito Valley, about six miles southeast from

Garden Valley, or nine miles east from Placerville, having nearly the altitude of

Georgetown. The visitor is astonished to find in this hidden place so many

enterprising and well-to-do farmers, as may be seen without inquiry, observing the

fine dwellings, large barns and thrifty fields of grain and clover ; the numerous

cattle, sheep and hogs, and fine looking orchards. As early as 1849, mines were

discovered in Mosquito canyon and the placers worked ; the population of early days

settled in two different places or villages ; one called- Nelsonville, and the

other known as the Big House or Lower town, the latter was built and inhabited by

Spaniards principally. At Nelsonville two or three stores had a good trade, and one

of them was kept by John D. Skinner until later years, when it burned out. The

mining paid well here in early days, and especially Little Mosquito was noted for

chunks of gold found there of from 2 oz. up to 100 dollars weight by Mr. Dickinson

and others. At the present day quartz mining is going on to some extent. To provide

the canyon with a stream of water a ditch had been built in 1853 or '54, at an

expense of above $20,000, owned by the Mosquito Ditch Co., now the property of

James Summerfield ; it is 16 miles in length and takes its water out of Slab creek.

The water now is used to a great deal for irrigation of orchards and gardens. The

first farm work in this district was done by Brown and Palmer, who grew the first

crop of potatoes : this however, was only a first trial, but Mr. Dickinson in

company with Peter Robinson took it up and to them is due the claim of being the

first actual settlers and cultivators of garden and orchard ; their first attempt

in agricultural work was made in 1853. And it is a well known fact that all

standard fruits are doing very well in this canyon; only a light snow is falling

here in the winter. A saw-mill was built here in One Eye canyon,—named after the

first man engaged there being one-eyed,—in 1851 or '52, by Benjamin Summerfield and

John Bennett. The first school in the settlement was opened in 1862, by Oliver

Chubb; he taught school first in a granary owned by John Cobb, on the place now

owned by James Summerfield. A Public School district was established here together

with a Post-office in 1881 ; the latter with Mrs. Dickinson as postmistress. Mrs.

John Agnews from Sidney, Australia, was the first white woman in the canyon, and

the first marriage was that of Waldo. Mosquito has always carried the name of being

a quiet peaceful settlement, the record of crimes is very short, but

notwithstanding it includes one case of Lynch law : A white man getting out shakes,

in early days, had been killed by the Indians, one of the Indians was caught and

hung by the excited population. Mosquito is connected with Placerville by a good

wagon-road and a suspension bridge across the South Fork of the American river, a

trail is running in the direction of Kelsey, the township center. Dixon

Summerfield, Adam Melchior, Christopher Finnan, John Selleck, Mrs. Couchlen and

John Markel are the present inhabitants.


Photo above of Mosquito Bridge, ca. 1914 (courtesy CA State Library)

Mosquito Bridge

The original bridge was built in 1867.  It is  California's oldest suspension bridge.  Still in use today it appears very similar to the 1914 photo above.  All wood construction with steel cables suspending iron deck rods.  Earlier in the 20th century it didn't have side rails.  It is closed annually for a few weeks for repairs and maintenance.  A new bridge has been slated, but construction has not yet begun.

An 1883 Souvenier of El Dorado County