Spanish for "little ovens," this Hispanic settlement, northwest of Mariposa, likely takes its name from the adobe, oven-shaped graves in a nearby cemetery. True to its Latin roots, the town was laid around a central plaza or square. During its Gold Rush heyday, this wild and woolly town was said to have had a population of 15,000 people and boasted 12 hotels and 36 saloons and brothels. Only about 75 residents live here today.

Hornitos is said to have been the base for a legendary Robin-Hood-like anti-hero: Joaquin Murieta. Many stories have been told about Murieta, but few of them are likely to be true.

Domingo Ghirardelli was an early resident of Hornitos, arriving here in 1849. A confectioner from Italy who came to California via Peru, he failed at mining before opening a general store in Hornitos. Later he went to San Francisco, there founding an empire based on chocolate.

To reach Hornitos, travel west from Highway 49 on county route J16.

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