Early in 1848 W. Sidney S. Willis (ES) and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter's Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the South Fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the Fort and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named "Mormon Island". This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall's discovery at Coloma. The population of the town in 1853 was more than 2500. It had four hotels, three dry goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office and many small shops. The first ball in Sacramento County was held here, December 25, 1849. A fire destroyed the town in 1856 and it was never rebuilt. It's site, one-half mile east of here, was inundated by Folsom Lake in 1955.