History and Genealogy Research

Home Page

Merced Falls June 2, 1900 Mariposa Gazette contributed by William Disbro


   Merced Falls is a partnership property Merced and Mariposa counties.
The lower end of the Falls belong to Merced and the upper end of the
back water is Mariposa. This is also the case with the public school.
Jehovah had nothing to do with the mechanical part of these falls. Wm.
Nelson was the architect, shortly after the Yosemite Falls were
discovered. They were not built as rival scenery to the Yosemite, but to
turn the mill stones in a flour mill. This was in 1853.

Merced Falls rest with one foot on the foothills and the other on the great Merced plains. Around it still lingers the twilight of pioneer days. There is a kind of romance that seems to cluster amidst its environments.

To the north and east the foothills slope towards the snow. Standing in the south are wrinkled hills that have the appearance of being relics of
some other age that time has chiseled with its years into battlemented
towers that need bu the crowning castles of feudal times to make the
picture perfect. To the west the broad bottom of the Merced river
spreads profligate in its luxuriance through which its pellucid waters
winds its tortuous way amidst banks and shades of verdant trees.

Merced river bottom is California's Garden of Eden, and now with considerable trepidation I venture to sit  in the same class with Professor Le CONTE, Daus and Muir and venture my first evolutionary theory.

Here it is:
This rich bottom once filled the gap between El Capitan rock and the South or Half Dome in the Yosemite Valley. In other words it is the debris from that dimple in the mountains, for no other dirt would make such rich soil, and it is really astounding that I should be the first scientist to discover this evolutionary axiom, but we turn from these thoughts of evolution to living issues of the day.

        On the dividing line of the two counties there is another
partnership we failed to mention. It is a magnificent bridge that spans
the Merced river at the upper end of the dam water. The toll house is at
the northern end  of the bridge and belongs to James McCOY. Ten cents is all it costs and you can get a cigar or any character of wet goods your aesthetic thirst may desire and if you have no money Jim will treat and allow you to cross and give you a cigar to smoke on the road. The old NELSON flour mills have vanished in smoke several years past. It went
when the woolen mills did.

It was about the same time there was so much talk about "protection for the American laborers." The "Millss' bill" occasioned so much friction that it caused a conflagration and seventy unprotected Chinaman were out of a job. Still the falls continue to drop over the wooden dam and now dues duty by chasing the shadows of night out of the city of Merced, and  until recently was chasing the gold out of the Mt. Gaines mine.

About the only excitement in the falls is when the salmon are climbing over the dam on their journey to the Yosemite. This trip is somewhat marred by nimrods who spear in hand dispute their passage. This furnishes great sport and now is the time to be there to see it.

The town of Merced Falls went with the mills- up in smoke. Only
a few houses were left. A store, post office, and blacksmith shop
comprises the business houses. John GIBBONS is the city Mayor. John has raised a large family and is one of the town's oldest settlers. He will
be a candidate for Sheriff at the next election. Merced Falls people are
quite literary. Every Saturday night they have a literary meeting and
their society dissects everything that agitates the land from politics
to christianity and from microbes to whales. This locality has a
promising future.

When its rich river lands are planted to citrus
fruits, when its grand  electrical power is fully developed, when its
wasting waters flood its rich soil and when "all river route to the
Yosemite" passes through its streets then Sampson will have to hire a
clerk and McCOY a French mixologist. W.F.R.
return to the Mariposa Tour site

November 23, 2002