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The BearBuddys Visit Bear Valley - Mariposa

Bearbuddys in Bear Valley Ca photoThe Bear Buddys recently took a trip through California and stopped in Bear Valley. Not the one you're thinking of in Northern California with the skiing, but the other one in the southern Sierra Nevada mounatin foothills. First named after some early local residents, Haydenville, Biddle's Camp and Johnsonville, it became Bear Valley in 1858. Located along Highway 49, sometimes known as the Forty-Niner's Highway in Mariposa County between Mariposa and Coulterville, just where it winds in steep curves down to the Merced River and back up.

Bear Valley John C Fremont Fort Marker sierras photoBear Valley's place in history is as the stomping grounds of explorer and army man Col. John C. Fremont. Fremont was one of the principals of California's Bear Flag Revolt before becoming officially a state. Fremont bought a tract of land in 1847, a land Mexican Land Grant called the Rancho Las Mariposas. The grants boundaries were a bit fluid due to limited surveys and when the gold rush came in 1848-49, Fremont claimed his borders indcuded the hills of Bear Valley. His mining operations there were quite lucrative and at its height, the area supported a population of 3000, though now pretty much reduced to a handful. From 1850 to about 1860, Fremont's Pine Tree and Princeton Mines produced enough for Fremont to open a hotel on the spot. Fremont also built himself a "Little White House" perhaps in anticipation of a political future which never quite materialized. Fremont was the first Republican candidate to run for President in 1854 with the slogan "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men - Frémont." He got beat and never made a lot of further noise as a politician. His house and the hotel in Bear Valley both had burned down by 1870. After returning to his mines after his political campaigns, he found his claims had been "jumped" and built Fremont's Fort at the edge of the ravine to defend his Bear Valley lands from the "Hornitos League". Most of his battles were in a courtroom. What's left now is a gas station and a little museum in the building next door, and a Historic Marker.

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