The township of Groveland came to be during the famous California Gold Rush of 1849. Prior to the arrival of the gold miners only Native Americans had lived in the area. The Mi Wuk Indians inhabited the area for nearly 10,000 years. Bed rock mortars (BRMs) are found throughout the area as evidence of their residency. The main Indian village or “Rancheria” was located at the bottom of what is now Pine Mountain Lake. Groveland was first named by the miners as Garrote, a European word meaning death by strangulation, or hanging. The naming of the mining camp occurred in July, 1849 when a Mexican miner was accused of stealing another’s gold. Swift justice lead to his hanging from an oak tree in front of what is now the Groveland Community Hall. As Garrote became inhabited by families the townsfolk decided to change its moniker to a more civilized name. In honor of a town in Massachusetts, Garrote was changed to Groveland in 1875 (a community just a couple miles up the highway is still known as Second Garrote, where another hanging was reported to have taken place).
Groveland has had its booms and busts. The Gold Rush of the 1850s represents the first boom. Soon, after the easy-pickings surface gold was all harvested, a decades-long bust ensued. The next boom came with the construction of the first wagon road into Yosemite National Park in the 1880s. Tourism managed to sustain the small community, bolstered by spikes in the hard rock mining industry that took hold to bore into the earth and take the treasures buried deep in solid granite. The sleepy community again flourished with the monumental construction project of the Hetch Hetchy rail road and the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam, resulting in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Groveland served as the mountain headquarters for the project. The Hetch Hetchy system provides some of the purest water found on this earth for much of the San Francisco Bay Area. Following the completion of the Hetch Hetchy system, the town went back to sleep. The two world wars kept the town in a state of dormancy.
In the late 1960s, the town reenergized with the development of the Pine Mountain Lake subdivision. A lake was created, golf course built, air strip laid down and over 3,500 residential lots were made available. With Yosemite National Park only 25 minutes away and the High Sierra overlooking the community, Groveland is enjoying its most prosperous era yet.
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