Sutter Creek, known as the "Jewel of the Mother Lode," was named after John Sutter, who sent a party to the area in 1846 in search of timber. Sutter logged this area for a while before heading back to his fort. His discovery of gold at nearby Coloma in January of the year 1848 triggered the California Gold Rush. After all his workers left him to go on their own hunt for gold, Sutter moved to Mormon Island with a couple of hands. After about 2 weeks miners started flooding the island and then Sutter and his hands made their trek to Sutter Creek. Sutter said that, " I broke up the camp and started on the march further south, and located my next camp on Sutter Creek, now in Amador County, and thought that I should be there alone. The work was going on well for a while, until three or four traveling grog-shops surrounded me, at from one-half to ten miles (16 km) distance from the camp. Then, of course, the gold was taken to these places, for drinking, gambling, etc., and then the following day they were sick and unable to work, and became deeper and more indebted to me, particularly the Kanakas." Shortly after this happened Sutter moved out of Sutter Creek and back to his fort. After this Sutter Creek became a destination for fortune hunters. Although plenty of gold was found here, quartz was discovered in 1851 and that became the mainstay of the local economy for many years. In the year 1854 Sutter Creek became a town. In 1932 the Central Eureka mine, discovered in 1869, had reached the level. By 1939, it was the best-paying mine at Sutter Creek.
With the prosperity brought by quartz mining, Sutter Creek became a boom town. Many of the original brick buildings are still standing, as well as some of the mansions built by the wealthier residents. Leland Stanford was one of Sutter Creek's most famous residents.
The mines continued operations until 1942 when most gold mines were closed for manpower reasons during World War II. The Central Eureka mine re-opened after the war and then shut down for good in 1951. Today, Sutter Creek is a tourist town with many shops and restaurants.
The town itself is registered as California Historical Landmark #322.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.3 km²), all of it land.
There were 1,025 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.2% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.8% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.79.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 20.3% from 25 to 44, 28.1% from 45 to 64, and 22.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 83.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,000, and the median income for a family was $55,795. Males had a median income of $46,563 versus $30,188 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,100. About 4.9% of families and 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.5% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.