Sheepranch was named after a sheep ranch. Officialy listed as "Sheep Ranch", the official post office stamp did at one time read "Sheepranch" (Zip: 95250). One of the very few "free-range" areas in California, there are several hundred freely roaming sheep throughout the town. Sheepranch is located approximately half-way between O'Neal Creek and San Antonio Creek on Sheep Ranch Road in the center of Calaveras County.
Sheepranch has a surprisingly colorful history. The town was once surrounded by sheep corrals, and in 1860 gold ore was discovered in the corrals where the sheep were kept at night. Soon Sheepranch was a bustling gold mining town. Before the turn of the century there were five flourishing gold mines and one had a ten-stamp mill. The town also supported 15 saloons." The town was patented on August 4 1880 by Judge Ira Hill Read.
The main mine in town was known as the Hearst mine. George Hearst, who with partners bought the mine in 1897, was the father of William Randolph Hearst. The mine operated under various company names until shut down by the government in 1942.
At one time the town of Sheepranch held two churches, one Catholic and the other Protestant. The local red brick school house, which still stands as a private home, employed two teachers until 1907 when the enrollment dwindled to 30 pupils taught by one teacher. The Eagle Hotel and the Pioneer Hotel were the two prominent local establishments, but only the Pioneer Hotel still stands.
Many scenes from the 1982 movie Honkytonk Man were filmed here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honkytonk_man
Much of the feature "Honkytonk Man" was filmed in and around Calaveras County, east of Stockton, California. Exterior scenes include Main Street, Mountain Ranch; Main Street, Sheepranch; and the Pioneer Hotel in Sheepranch. Extras were locally hired and many of the town's residents are seen in the movie. During the filming, Clint Eastwood was very friendly and hospitable, taking time to chat and visit with many local residents.
"Moonshine War" was another locally filmed movie, but only road scenes were used.
Local population is less than one hundred persons. Sheep well out-number humans. There are no active businesses in Sheepranch today; no gasoline stations, no grocery or general store. Nearest facilities to the west are located in Mountain Ranch, and nearest facilities located to the east are in Avery, approximately 7 miles away. In January 2008, the postal service contractor in town relocated elsewhere, resulting in the town having its ZIP code revoked ( or 'archived', i.e. made 'not usable' ) by the U.S. Postal Service. Locals can still use the town name, but must use the ZIP code for nearby Mountain Ranch (95246).