Jacob Markley, a native of Ontario, Canada, made his way to California and staked a 160-acre claim on September 12, 1861. Here he built a 16x20 foot sugar pine cabin and toll bridge. As nearby Konigsberg began to boom, Markley took advantage and began selling lots in a new town he called Markleeville. On May 14, 1863, Markley was shot dead during an altercation at his cabin. Nevertheless, his town continued to blossom.

By 1864, 168 permanent homes had been constructed at Markleeville, which now had a population of 2,620. A telegraph line to Genoa, Nevada and Wells Fargo Express Office served the town, and in the wake of the Civil War a Union armory housed troops. In 1875, the Alpine County seat moved to, Markleeville from Silver Mountain City, though the population had now dwindled to only 172 due to a decline in silver prices.

Today, Markleeville is still a small, quiet community with a population that hovers around 200. Several historic buildings, including the 1862 Fisk Hotel which was moved from Silver Mountain City, dot a main street lined with pines.