We have driven by and through Chinese Camp several times over the years on our travels up and down Highway 49 but never stopped. But now with Lake Don Pedro so low and the Tarantula and Eagle-Shawmut Mines exposed we decided to make a stop. The semi-ghost town has many hauntingly vacant buildings, in fact main street is entirely abandoned stores, post office and homes. We parked and walked up and down main street fascinated with the old buildings. We then crossed Highway 49 and followed Main St up to the Catholic cemetery and church. We explored the church and graves for nearly an hour, many WWII vets buried there.
The towns post office and church were founded in 1954 and allegedly the town was formed by Englishmen who hired many Chinese servants and miners. At one point there were 5,000 Chinese living there. The town became a popular stage stop and central shipping point from nearby Chinese Station a stop on the Sierra Nevada Railroad. By the early 1900’s most of the town was abandoned and today none of the Chinese descendants remain.
The St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was built in 1854 and restored in 1949 making it one of the oldest Catholic Church buildings still standing in California. There are two other cemeteray in Chines camp, the City Cemetery up on the hill and the IOOF Cemetery right off Highway 49.