Calaveras Enterprise

Calaveras County by the numbers

If you are at a loss for something to do, I have a suggestion. Of course, given the current state of affairs in our country, state, and county, I don’t expect there are too many people who find themselves without something to do.

Most of us are trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, unless you are fortunate enough to be residing in Calaveras County in one of the 2,865 houses that doesn’t have a mortgage. If you are not working on that particular problem, you are probably considering just how to make sure that food is in the fridge and that the phone, electric, and cable bills are paid. Oh, and we can probably add car payments, tuition payments, medical bills and all the rest of the things that siphon money out of our accounts.

However, if you happen to be a little bored, then here is my suggestion. Go to and look up Calaveras County and you will probably discover some things you didn’t know about the county in which you live.

For starters, Calaveras County is shaped like either a wolf howling at the moon or the last three feet of an elephant’s trunk. The other thing that must be noted is found at the very bottom of this site: “ does not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information on this site. Use at your own risk.”

As I perused the very lengthy page, it became obvious that much of the data is outdated. On the other hand, some of the information was gleaned from a variety of recent public sources. Whether current or dated, the facts and figures probably run the gamut from highly accurate to flights of fancy. With those cautions in mind, I have found a number of thought-provoking items to consider regarding Calaveras County.

If the 2008 presidential election results are any indication, there are quite a few more Republicans in the county than Democrats. This might explain why my columns irritate some readers. Also, there were 14 people who voted for the Constitution Party. I am certain they would be fascinating conversatonalists at a dinner party.

Caucasian folks make up the largest percentage of the population at around 84 percent while fewer than 2 percent are black. The largest minority is comprised of Hispanic-Latino people at about 10 percent. Compared to California, we don’t seem to have much racial diversity.

One area where some facts seem pretty out of whack is in the listing of “mean price of detached homes in 2009” where the price is listed at $451,000, which seems higher than what I would expect. Of course, the mean price doesn’t mean much because it includes extremely high priced properties, which can result in a skewed price. Looking around the county, most homes don’t seem to be in that price range. But then there are probably thousands of homes I haven’t seen, so I don’t really know.

This website also provides lots of graphs, which I like because they make statistics look more understandable. It was easy to see that in 2005 there was a spike in new house construction building permits, and there has then been a precipitous drop since that time. This exactly mirrors the trends in the state of California.

One chart that was puzzling dealt with “Infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Calaveras County.” Most years seemed to have a relatively low rate, except for 1994. In that year the bar soars above other years and well above the California rates. Once again, I have no idea what it means, if anything, but it seems as if there might have been some sort of tragic set of circumstances.

The percentage of the population that is affiliated with a religious congregation was much lower than I would have guessed, 18 percent in Calaveras versus 50 percent in the U.S. as a whole.

The three most commonly used fuels to heat homes were liquid propane (47 percent), wood (26 percent) and electricity (14 percent). I bet most of you probably knew that.

Near the end of the report, I found this information. The five most common first names among deceased individuals were John, William, Robert, James, and Mary. The most common last names of deceased persons were Smith, Johnson, Brown, Anderson, and Miller.

What I have concluded from all of this is that, on the whole the Mother Lode is a fantastic place to live, no matter what facts and figures one can conjure up. Of course, most of us who live here already knew that without doing more than looking out our windows or driving anywhere for five minutes.


Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and weekly columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at


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