First known as Murphys Diggins and then as Murphys Old Diggins (when pioneer brothers John and Daniel Murphy moved from this location to what is now known as Murphys), large deposits of gold weren't discovered here until 1852, even though Mexican miners first settled here in 1850.

Remaining buildings include the Dindelspiel Store, built in 1851, and the Wells Fargo Express office, which dates from 1854.

Two miles south of Vallecito (Spanish for "little valley") is Moaning Cave, named for moaning sounds that early visitors heard. When a staircase was installed in the cave, the moaning ceased, but recent experiments restored the eerie sounds. Miners discovered the cavern in 1851. Visitors can enter the cave by rappeling from the surface into the large main chamber, or they can descend by a series of wooden stairs before reaching a spiral steel staircase.

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