Vallecito ("Little Valley" in Spanish; formerly, Murphy's Old Diggings, Valacito, Vallicita, Vallicito) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Calaveras County, California, United States. The population was 427 at the 2000 census. The town is registered as California Historical Landmark #273. Nearby is Moaning Cavern, the largest cave chamber in California, which the Miwok Indians used as a burial ground.
Vallecito was one of California's important early-day mining towns. Gold was discovered here by the Murphy brothers in 1849, and it was originally called "Murphys Diggings," which became "Murphys Old Diggings" when they moved on to greener pastures at "Murphys New Diggings" (which became the town of Murphys). The town was revitalized in 1852 when extremely rich deposits of gold were discovered running practically through the center of town. A post office was established in 1854, which is still in use today.
The Vallecito Bell, cast at Troy, New York in 1853, was brought around Cape Horn. It was purchased from the ship with funds contributed by early-day residents and brought to Vallecito to be erected in a large oak tree in 1854. It was used to call the people together until February 16, 1939, when a severe wind blew the old tree down.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22.2 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 427 people, 183 households, and 120 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 49.8 people per square mile (19.2/km²). There were 195 housing units at an average density of 22.8/sq mi (8.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 95.55% White, 0.23% Black or African American, 3.04% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.47% from other races, and 0.23% from two or more races. 1.87% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 183 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 32.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 102.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $36,875, and the median income for a family was $32,917. Males had a median income of $46,250 versus $37,917 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,779. About 11.6% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.0% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Vallecito is located in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Dave Cox, and in the 25th Assembly District, represented by Republican Tom Berryhill. Federally, Vallecito is located in California's 3rd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +7 and is represented by Republican Dan Lungren.