This website built by Linda Owens, or (209) 772-1149

History of the Avery area and the historic Avery Hotel

Avery-Hathaway Pines History 

The colorful history of the Avery-Hathaway Pines area began long before European Americans came to settle here. Seasonally inhabited by both the Miwok and Washoe tribes for several thousand years, the area still·retains evidence of their presence. Bedrock mortars,· also known as milling stations or grinding rocks can be found in many places throughout the area, particularly bordering Love and Moran creeks. There are several reports of Native American villages in the Avery area including the village of Yoong!-ah-ko-te, located one mile below Avery near what is now Hathaway Pines. Various censuses from the early part of the 20th century indicates populations of Miwoks ranging from sixty persons in 1911 to twenty "Indians" in Avery in 1928. Although white hostility kept many Native Americans on the move during the gold rush era, the Avery area is thought to have been hospitable. as many informants recall Native American groups living or camping here as late as 1940. The Miwok population comprised the majority of "permanent" Native American inhabitants while the Washoe Indians of the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada would come to Calaveras County in the Fall, gathering black oak acorns and trading with the locals. They brought hand-woven baskets and pine nuts to trade for coffee, tea, sugar and whiskey. Among the popular items gathered during their annual visits were the willow shoots from the Avery area, said to be more moist and easier to use for basket making than those found in their home territory. 

During an interview in 1967 with Hazel Fischer, a beloved teacher at the original Avery school, she recalled bribing the Indians with tomatoes and fruit to get them to reveal the location of their cemetery and roundhouse which was said to be located "on the Old Sheep Ranch Road, through the meadow (at Avery) and around the hill to the right." The first European settlers known to have taken up permanent residence in what is now Avery were Joseph and Sarah Goodell. In the 1850's they built a four room house which was also used as a hotel; it was named Half-Way House because of it's location half way between Murphys and Big Trees. When the Comstock Lode in Silver City, Nevada was discovered in 1858, the original Emigrant Road through Avery was used by logging and freighting teams who over-nighted at the Half Way House. Cattlemen and sheep-men also used this road to drive their herds to the summer ranges in the high country. The Emigrant Road ran along the ridge to the northwest of Moran Road and eventually came into the Big Trees traversing the ridge between the park and Oak Hollow. Moran Road was the original "highway" through Avery; Highway 4 was constructed in the 1920's.  

Peter and Nancy Avery and their son George arrived in California from Maine in the late 1850's. The Avery's first settled in Sheep Ranch, later moving to Avery and purchasing the Half~Way House from the Goodell's in 1869. The Avery's eventually acquired about 800 acres in the area and used much of it, including the Avery meadow, for growing hay and as Avery-Hathaway Pines Community Plan April 19, 1999 mentions for pasture for horses and cattle. The Avery family also acquired water rights which brought water from Love Creek through a ditch along the south side of the meadow to irrigate the pasture. George Avery married Henrietta Johnson of Sheep Ranch in 1874 and they had twelve children. The Half,Way House, renamed the Avery Hotel, was enlarged in 1874 and again in the 1880's with the addition of a kitchen, small dining room, pantry and bedrooms. The complex near the hotel included a store, bar, dance hall, three large barns, wagon shed, blacksmith shop, ice house and other smaller buildings. Three large corrals would frequently be filled with different herds of cattle and sheep being driven to the high country; departure would be at daybreak after a big hotel breakfast. Some of the cattle families who stopped regularly were Whittle, Murphy, Osborn, Hunt and Airola. The Avery Hotel and surrounding land was sold to Sam Lodato in 1944 and has changed ownership several times since. In 1946 a fire swept through the area claiming all the buildings except for the hotel which still stands. In 1886, George Avery donated land for  construction of the Avery School which was built across from the present Highway 4 southwest of the hotel. Mary Carty, was the first teacher at the one-room school house which was used continuously until 1942 when a larger school was built at White Pines. In the late 1930's, when Blagen's Mill was built at White Pines, the attendance at the little school house increased to the point where double sessions were held, forcing the use of orange crates for desks. Hazel Fischer, for whom the school in White Pines was named, taught at the one-room school house in Avery from 1917 until the new school opened. In 1994, the new Avery Middle School was built on 20+ acres adjacent to the Avery Hotel. The school, which has a capacity of 650 students, graduated its first class in June of 1995.  

Avery School 1939. Hazel Fishcer, Teacher.

Avery School 1939. Hazel Fishcer, Teacher.

fun facts


In 1850, at the height of the Gold Rush, there were 62 males for every female in Calaveras County. By 1860, the ratio was just over 6:1.