Alpine County is named for its massive peaks, thrust up from molten earth and scoured by glaciers, reminding European settlers of their own Alps. The Washoe Indians enjoyed this precipitous Eden with over 60 alpine lakes long before famous trailblazer Jedediah Smith, his pack animals dying, made it through these mountains. At first, few settlers ventured here, but a silver strike led hopeful residents to carve out a county, making Silver Mountain, then a town of 3,500, their seat of government. But the silver boom ended, and in 1875 Markleeville took the reins, asSilver Mountain was by then a ghost town. Although Alpine is w the least populated county in California, thousands come each year to hike, camp, or following the tradition of famous Swshoe Thompson ski at popular Bear Valley and Kirkwood, or visit the delightful village of Markleeville, Grover Hot Springs, and other enchanting lake resorts.