Hornitos was founded in 1850 by Mexican miners who were expelled from nearby Quartzburg. When Quartzburg dried out, the miners moved to Hornitos where the diggings were rich. At its peak, Hornitos ("little ovens") had a population of several thousand and the reputation of being the roughest town in Mariposa county.
Today, Hornitos is a sleepy little village filled with structures from the gold rush days. Among the ruins are the walls of the Ghirardelli store, where Domingo Ghirardelli traded with the miners before moving to San Francisco in 1852 to found his chocolate company. The remains of the store is still owned by the Ghirardelli company.
The town of Hornitos is located at the intersection of Bear Valley Road and Hornitos Road about 18 km west of Bear Valley.
View of Hornitos from the south, May 1936
photo by William H. Knowles
Hornitos from the north, July 2001