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Angels, Copper story told in photos
By Patty Fuller   - 02/13/2009

The Union Democrat

More Info on This Book: Angels Camp and Copperopolis

Taken around 1870, a photograph shows Manuel and Caroline Airola, both from Genoa, Italy, at their home in Robinsons Ferry, a community south of Carson Hill.

Downtown Altaville in the 1880s had a hotel, foundry, its own fairgrounds, a wagon-making shop and a dance hall, another photo and caption reveal.

These are among the subjects of “Angels Camp and Copperopolis,” a new book of history told largely in photographs.

Also featured is the late Charles Stone, the self-appointed “vice-mayor” of Copperopolis, seated as he shells beans. Among quips Stone was known for: “If you’ve spent a summer in Copperopolis, you’re not afraid of hell.”

One shot from the 1920s sure to stop most page turners is that of Rasmus Nielsen, a longtime Angels Camp resident who switched from blacksmithing to show business and had his entire body tattooed.

Colorful in content, these black and whites are a sampling of 200-plus photographs filling the new book, which covers the histories of Angels Camp and Copperopolis, plus assorted smaller communities — like Robinsons Ferry — that are no longer on the map. Or at least new maps.

The book is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series that profiles the past of towns around America through compilations of historic photos.

Already in the series are books on Sonora, Camp Mather, the Murphys area and northern Calaveras County.

Credited with gathering and choosing photos for the Angels Camp and Copperopolis edition are Calaveras County-based archeologists Judith Marvin and Julia Costello, and historian-writer Salvatore Manna.

“There has never been a publication on Angels Camp, Copperopolis and the southwest corner of the county that has as much history or as many photographs,” said Manna.

A Burson resident, Manna said he, Marvin and Costello worked together over several months to collect photos that cover southwest Calaveras County’s past — from its first Native American residents centuries ago to the region in more recent times.

The three came to the project with decades of experience in historical research. Marvin, of Murphys, also put together the images and text for the Murphys book and the trio did the work for the northern Calaveras County book.

The vintage photos and information for their captions came mostly from the Calaveras Historical Society, Calaveras County Archives, Angels Camp Museum and descendants of pioneer families.

The chapters highlight notable eras, events and long-ago residents of the Angels Camp and Copperopolis areas. In addition to Native Americans, the book gives glimpses of the Gold Rush, mining and ranching, the Italian immigrants, the notorious Black Bart, the Jumping Frog Jubilee and the three railroads that once crossed through.

Costello said Arcadia Publishing’s mostly-photos formula for history books make these publications draw a larger audience.

“People love looking pictures,” the Mokelumne Hill resident said.

Buy It Now: Angels Camp and Copperopolis $21.99

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