La Grange was first known as French Bar, French miners having come to that region to prospect as early as 1852. The first settlement was originally made about one mile downstream from the present town of La Grange. With the flood of 1851, the town was moved onto higher ground at its present location. By 1855, La Grange had become a thriving center of trade, since the bulk of the population in the county had moved up into the mining regions.
At one time La Grange had boasted a 2,000 population. During the l870's extensive hydraulic operations were carried on in the vicinity. A series of water ditches were built to bring water for hydraulic mining. With the passage of laws against hydraulic mining, the dredger operations came into being. Accompanying the dredge were the workers wh0.established a camp on a hill overlooking the river and the lower dredging areas. Here they lived in modest homes and their lives revolved around the dredge operation. In order to maintain a living, they were constantly alert to the needs of the dredge as any breakdowns were costly to all.
The Wheaton dam and ditches near La Grange were constructed in the early '50's for mining purposes. Mr. Wheaton was one of the pioneers of the irrigation movement in the Modesto district, for he was among the first to advocate the purchase of his dam and water rights by the land owners on the plains for irrigation purposes. After the organization of the irrigation districts, his rights and property passed to the Modesto and Turlock districts and the La Grange dam was constructed. Today this dam is part of the system of Stanislaus County reservoirs which supplies Modesto and Turlock districts.
The small town of La Grange has a strikingly picturesque setting on the Tuolumne River. For several miles along its banks, thousands of rock mounds and pyramids stand as monuments to the Herculean efforts of early miners to harvest the golden treasure from the river's bed. - NRHP, January 1975