“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Folsom in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Mormon Island

Mormon Island Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, April 4, 2009
1. Mormon Island Marker
Inscription.  Early in 1848 W. Sidney S. Willis (ES) and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter’s Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the South Fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the Fort and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named “Mormon Island”. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall’s discovery at Coloma. The population of the town in 1853 was more than 2500. It had four hotels, three dry goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office and many small shops. The first ball in Sacramento County was held here, December 25, 1849. A fire destroyed the town in 1856 and it was never rebuilt. It’s site, one-half mile east of here, was inundated by Folsom Lake in 1955.
Erected 1957 by Sacramento County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, in cooperation with California State Park Commission. (Marker Number 240.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion
Mormon Island Marker with Folsom Lake in Background image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, April 4, 2009
2. Mormon Island Marker with Folsom Lake in Background
Click or scan to see
this page online
LandmarksNatural ResourcesNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the California Historical Landmarks, and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1889.
Location. 38° 41.957′ N, 121° 7.654′ W. Marker is in Folsom, California, in Sacramento County. Marker can be reached from East Natoma Street. Marker is located at the parking lot of the Folsom Point picnic area, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, off of East Natoma Steet. This is a fee-use area. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Folsom CA 95630, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Folsom Dam Improvements (approx. ¼ mile away); Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery (approx. one mile away); Prairie City Cemetery (approx. one mile away); Folsom Institute (approx. 2.4 miles away); Folsom Veterans Memorial (approx. 2.4 miles away); The Sacramento, Placer and Nevada Railroad Right of Way (approx.
A Second Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, April 4, 2009
3. A Second Marker
This marker is in honored remembrance of the
Mormon Battalion's sacrifice, for our national defense.
Due to National Security of the US waterways, the
Mormon Island marker has been relocated to Folsom
Point, Folsom Lake, California by International
Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers and Northern
California DUP.
2½ miles away); Sterlingshire (approx. 2.9 miles away); Original Folsom Hydroelectric Plant (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Folsom.
Regarding Mormon Island. This site was designated as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 569 on April 1, 1957.
Additional commentary.
1. The Town Site
The site of Mormon Island was located in El Dorado County just northeast of the marker site, while the marker is located in Sacramento County. The border of the two counties is located just east of the Folsom Point Picnic Area.
    — Submitted April 4, 2009.

2. Interpretive sign at “Clarksville Days” held at the old town site of Clarksville
May 9, 2009

Mormon Island

Originally located on the South Fork of the American River, just east of present day city of Folsom. Not truly an island, but a sand bar, where two of [John] Sutter’s workmen, Sidney Willes and Wilford Hudson first discovered gold, on March 2nd, 1848 – just 37 days after James Marshall’s
Mormon Island image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, May 9, 2009
4. Mormon Island
Site of the First California Gold Rush
See Comment #2
discovery in Coloma. Willes and Hudson were fellow Mormon Battalion veterans with Marshall’s millworkers, who passed on the gold discovery “secret”. The original Mormon Battalion boys and other Mormon immigrants, who came to California by ship, the Brooklyn first worked it, and would mark off areas – each working his assigned space. The gold found each day was tossed into a container, with tools left overnight. They were among trusted friends. By the time other gold seekers arrived, the gold fields were not safe, nor friendly, with thievery, treachery, and murder being the order of the day. By June 1848 there where 300 people.

By the end of 1848 most of the Mormons left California, to return with their families and “gather with the Saints.” In the Oct. 29, 1850 census few Mormons remained. The town grew to thousands until the end of the Gold Rush. It remained a town until the 1950’s, when it was inundated by Folsom Lake.
See Photo #4
    — Submitted May 9, 2009, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.

Additional keywords. Gold Rush
Mining Town of Mormon Island image. Click for full size.
By Folsom History Museum
5. Mining Town of Mormon Island
Jergen Simpson image. Click for full size.
By S B, circa February 28, 2008
6. Jergen Simpson
1822 - 1910
In the early 1950s, prior to the building of Folsom Dam and the creation of Folsom Lake, internments of the Mormon Island Cemetery were relocated to the Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery on Green Valley Road, El Dorado Hills. This is one of the relocated graves.
See "Nearby Marker" for additional information.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 18, 2019. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2009, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona. This page has been viewed 4,098 times since then and 73 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 4, 2009, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.   4. submitted on May 9, 2009, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.   5. submitted on April 4, 2009, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.   6. submitted on February 20, 2012, by S B of Sacramento, California.

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Sep. 16, 2021