|Hornitos CA. became one of the most prosperous towns of the Southern Motherload. |
The ground in the area of Hornitos is very hard and rocky so the Mexican towns folks preferred to bury their dead in above ground tombs built of rock and adobe. These small dome-shaped mounds resembled the outdoor ovens used for baking bread in Mexico so the graves were known as "hornitos", which meant "little ovens" in Spanish.
The mining camp grew quickly around a central plaza, rock and adobe buildings lined the narrow streets running out from the center of town. During its heyday, Hornitos is said to have had a population of less than 8,000. The town had 4 hotels, 6 fraternal lodges and organizations, a post office, 6 general merchandise stores, a Wells Fargo Express Express, and several saloons and fandango halls. Many of the fandangos were built underground and lined the road leading to the plaza. These subterranean saloons were all connected by doors so patrons could roam from one to another without the inconvenience of having go outside, where they might be seen.
The streams around Hornitos were rich in gold, with reports of nuggets weighing up to 34 pounds being found in the area. When the placers began to give out, the miners started digging shafts and tunnels to reach the quartz gold lying below the rocky surface.
Joaquin Murieta, the infamous badman of the southern mines was said to frequent the saloons and fandango halls of Hornitos.