The most famous town of Natoma Township was Mormon Island, a bustling gold mining community in the early 1850s. By 1860 the population of Mormon had be significantly drained by opportunities in other parts of California. In 1860, Natoma Township, where Mormon Island was located, had only 645 residents spread out over 47 square miles.
Natoma Township was in northern eastern Sacramento County between Granite Township and El Dorado County. The northern boundary of Natoma Township ran from just southeast of the confluence of the North and South forks of the American River east to the El Dorado County line. This stretch of American River included the rich placer mining areas of Mormon Island and Red Bank. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of placer gold was scoured out of the river along this 2 mile stretch of river.
By 1860, the economic focus had shifted to the town of Folsom, in Granite Township, to the west. Granite Township, with fewer square miles of territory, boasted 1,956 residents, mostly concentrated around the town of Folsom. Similar to Granite Township, mining was the primary occupation of residents of Natoma Township. In the northern section of Natoma Township there were miles of water canals of the Natoma Water and Mining Company. The water ditches allowed new mining operations at Prairie City and Rhodes Diggins. There was also gold mining along Deer Creek in the southern part of the township.
The 1860 census for Natoma Township consists of 17 pages that enumerated the 645 residents within 191 dwellings. Approximately 54 percent of the population was born in the United States. Of those U.S. births, 13 percent were born in California. As California births were almost always under the age of 10 years of age, the U.S. born adults comprised 41 percent of the population. Individuals from Europe accounted for 35 percent of the population and residents born in China represented 9 percent.
U.S. born residents came from a variety of states in the east and mid-west. Excluding California born individuals, New York represented the highest concentration of state birth with slightly more than 19 percent. Ohio (7.74%), Massachusetts (6.59%), and Pennsylvania (5.73%) represented some of the larger state births in the region.
European immigrants were dominated by people immigrating from Ireland, making up 40 percent. Next were individuals born in England (25.88%) and Germany (18.42%.) Immigrants from France, Scotland, and the Western Islands totaled slightly less than 14 percent of the population. The population of Chinese individuals was close to the number of immigrants who listed England as their birth origin.
While the Gold Rush population had dramatically dwindled, 274 men listed their occupation as miner in Natoma Township in 1860. The occupation of miner represented 62.84 percent of the 436 individuals who listed an occupation on the census. A distant second occupation was that of farmer or gardener with 52 individuals or 11.93 percent of the working adults. Other occupations, in descending order, of the residents included laborer, merchant, stone cutter, carpenter, blacksmith, butcher, and clerk. Several people listed cook and seamstress as occupations.
Within the mining community, 32 percent were U.S. born residents. The next largest mining communities by birth were the Irish at 24 percent and the Chinese representing 19 percent of the miners.
Natoma Township did not have any emerging suburban centers like Folsom or industries such as the railroads like Granite Township. Where the Natoma Water and Mining Company canals supplied water, agriculture could take root in the township. The southern part of the township was rangeland and sparsely populated.
In the 21st century, the northern part of the old Natoma Township is under the governance of the City of Folsom. The town of Mormon Island is perpetually under the water of Folsom Lake.