Located on the north bank of the Calaveras River, Jenny Lind was a placer mining town as early as 1849. Most of the placer mining was done along the hillsides above the river; later the river was mined with dredgers. In 1864 the population was said to be 400, half of them Chinese. Being on the main road from Stockton, it was also an important freighting center for the area.
The town is named after the Swedish singer Jenny Lind, although there are several tales as to why this is so. One story has it that it was really named for Dr. John Y. Lind. Another says that the braying of pack mules prompted the miners to use the singer's name in sarcastic humor. Most likely, it was named in the singer's honor, although she never came to California.
The town today is registered as California Historical Landmark #266.
A post office operated at Jenny Lind from 1857 to 1944 and again from 1947 to 1951.