Nevada County creates newest historical landmark: Birchville/St.Columcille’s Church |

Nevada County creates newest historical landmark: Birchville/St.Columcille’s Church

The Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission has announced the designation by the Board of Supervisors of the County”s newest historical landmark located at 22917 Pleasant Valley Road in Birchville.

For many years, Birchville was a major center of hydraulic mining on the San Juan Ridge. David Johnson, a prospector, first arrived here in 1851 and the town became known as Johnson’s Diggings. The town grew rapidly and in 1853 was renamed Birchville in honor of Lumon Burch Adsit, a local storeowner.

In 1865, the San Juan and Bridgeport Union Guard, under the command of Captain Francis Coffey, built its armory on the hill above this monument. In 1869, the armory building became St. Columcille’s Catholic Church and served as a place of worship until 1955. In 1949, the Native Daughters of the Golden West erected this monument to commemorate the church.

In 1969, the building was purchased by Babe Pingalia, known affectionately as Mr. San Juan, and donated to the State of California. It was dismantled in 1971 and moved to Malakoff State Historic Park, some 15 miles further up the ridge, where it proudly stands today as a testament to the colorful history of the San Juan Ridge.

The plaque commemorates the historic mining community of Birchville and St. Columcille’s Catholic Church which served the Birchville community for 100 years. It will be installed on the monument erected by the Native Daughters of the Golden West in 1949 in front of where the church was located before it was moved to the Malakoff State Historic Park in 1971.


The landmark will be featured in the next edition of the Commission’s interactive map and e-guide. The e-guide is an electronic book cataloging all the over 200 historical landmarks in the County, and is available for any smartphone or tablet from Apple or Amazon. Go to You Bet Press ( to find clickable links.

Prefer paper? There are still copies of the last edition available from Comstock Bonanza Press at

The purpose of the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission is to promote the general welfare of Nevada County and its citizens through official recognition, recording, marking, preserving and promoting the historical resources of Nevada County. For more information, please call 415-264-7230.

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