Agua Fria, California

Agua Fria (formerly, Agua Frio, Agua Frie, and Aqua Fria)[3] is an unincorporated community in Mariposa County, California.[1] It is located 5.25 miles (8.4 km) northeast of Catheys Valley,[3] at an elevation of 2001 feet (610 m).[1] Agua Fria is the former county seat of Mariposa County located approximately three miles west of Mariposa, California.

Agua Fria
Agua Fria
Location in California
Agua Fria
Agua Fria (the United States)
Coordinates: 37°29′06″N 120°01′13″W
CountryUnited States
CountyMariposa County
Elevation2,001 ft (610 m)
Reference no.518[2]


Agua Fria was originally a mining camp of the California Gold Rush, and was divided into Lower Agua Fria and Upper Agua Fria. Agua Fria means "cold water" in Spanish,[4] and the name was derived from two springs of cold water about a quarter mile below Lower Agua Fria (the main part of town). It may have been here that John C. Fremont's men discovered gold in 1849 on his Rancho Las Mariposas.

In 1850, it was a booming trade center and the final destination for many new arrivals in California. It was Mariposa County's first Seat of Justice from February 18, 1850, to November 10, 1851. A post office was established October 7, 1851.

In 1853, a 6-stamp quartz mill was established in Upper Agua Fria. The camp boasted a hotel, express office, assayers, billiard room, bowling alley, monte and faro banks, about a dozen stores, numerous tents and log cabins by the fall of 1850. The population started to decline by the mid-19th century, and the city suffered destructive fires and was never rebuilt.

A post office operated at Agua Fria from 1851 to 1862.[3]

Present status

Agua Fria is a ghost town with little to see but grassy meadows. It is accessible via Agua Fria Road to Mount Bullion and the site of Princeton. It is also an alternate route into Mariposa. The site is private property, and is a California Historical Landmark (#518).[2]


  1. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Agua Fria, California
  2. "Agua Fria". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  3. Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 739. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  4. William Bright; Erwin Gustav Gudde (30 November 1998). 1500 California place names: their origin and meaning. University of California Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-520-21271-8. Retrieved 20 January 2012.


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