Ione (formerly, Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble, Ione City, Woosterville,, Jone City, Jone Valley, and Rickeyville) is a city in Amador County, California, United States. The population was 7,129 at the 2000 census. Once known as "Bed-Bug" and "Freeze Out," Ione was an important supply center on the main road to the Mother Lode and Southern Mines.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,129 people, 1,081 households, and 780 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,502.6 people per square mile (580.7/km²). There were 1,155 housing units at an average density of 243.4/sq mi (94.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.90% White, 17.83% Black or African American, 2.30% Native American, 1.68% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 18.12% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. 20.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 13.6% from 18 to 24, 45.0% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 5.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 380.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 449.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,625, and the median income for a family was $48,911. Males had a median income of $26,922 versus $23,633 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,340. About 9.3% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.8% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Ione is located in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Dave Cox, and in the 10th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Alyson Huber. Federally, Ione is located in California's 3rd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +7 and is represented by Republican Dan Lungren.
Ione is located in the fertile Ione Valley, which is believed to be named by Thomas Brown around 1849 after one of the heroines in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's drama "The Last Days of Pompeii." During the days of the Gold Rush, the miners knew the town by the names of "Bedbug" and "Freezeout." Unlike other communities in Amador County, which were founded on gold mining, Ione was a supply center, stage and rail stop, and agricultural hub.
The Town of Ione continued to grow and prosper after its gold rush founding. The first school was built in 1853. The historic Methodist Church was organized in 1853 and the structure was completed in 1862. The first flour mill was built in 1855. The first brick building was built by Daniel Stewart in 1855 for his general merchandise store and is still owned and operated by the same family.
At the centennial of 1876, Ione had a population of about 600 which included about 100 Chinese who lived in Ione's Chinatown. The town included one public school, 4 churches, 4 general stores, one meat market, one laundry, one brewery, a restaurant, millinery shop, an art gallery, six saloons, a drug store and barber shop, and many other business establishments. The centennial also celebrated the completion of the railroad to the town of Ione. The centennial celebration was the beginning of what is now known as the Ione Homecoming. This annual celebration has been held during the month of May almost every year since that first Centennial celebration in 1876 and is now held on the first weekend in May every year.
The City of Ione was incorporated as a General Law City in 1953.
Ione has many interesting landmarks and historical points of interest:
The Preston School of Industry, known as The Castle, was built between 1890-1894 to serve as a school for juveniles referred by the courts. The Castle is currently not in use, but the Preston Castle Foundation is working to help restore The Castle.
Mule Creek State Prison is located in the community. Adjacent to Mule Creek is the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Training Academy, which trains staff from all over California, as well as the Preston Youth Correctional Facility (formerly the Preston School of Industry). According to the Mule Creek State Prison website, there are 3,782 prisoners residing in the facility, well above the design capacity of 1,700, and they account for nearly half of Ione's population.