Calaveras County embraces the city of Angels Camp and several different townships, each with their own unique ambience and ameniteis. While businesses are the ecomomic livelihood of any community, it is the people who make up its heart and soul. In Calaveras County there is a very strong sense of community, in each locale and as a whole. Each resident is here for the extraordinary quality of life, and many relocate to Calaveras to raise their families or to retire.
Angels Camp, the only incorported city in Calaveras County, was named after shopkeeper Henry Angel who started a trading post there in 1848. Its charming historic Main Street is host to unique boutique shops and restaurants, and Angels Camp is home to Greenhorn Creek's championship golf course and community, the third largest reservoir in California--New Melones Lake, historic monuments and museum, the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce Office, the Calaveras Visitors Bureau, new shopping centers, and the county's only movie theater.
Angels Camp is still honeycombed with tunnels from the many successful mines. Angels Camp houses the county fairgrounds, where the acclaimed "Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee" is held annually the third wwk of May. Just north of Angels Camp is Altaville, enabling a continuous highway of retail shops, lodging, and services.
Situated in between Angels Camp and Murphys are the communities of Vallecito and Douglas Flat, small and picturesque touwnships with a rich history from the Gold Rush. It is reported that the Dinkelspiel store in Vallecito produced the very first pair of Levi's as strong pants for the miners, and the area was described as one of the most flourishing of California's southern mines. Douglas Flat was a roaring mining camp of the early 1850's, and the Antone Giliardo store still stands as does the first schoolhouse built in 1854.
The Gold Rush town of Murphys, Queen of the Sierra, sports a charming main street lined with a vast variety of shops, fine eateries, art galleries and architecturally appropriate new retial developments. Murphys is the hub of Calaveras wine country with the lion's share of wineries operating within a four mile radius. Romantic bed and breadfast inns and the historic Murphys Hotel complete the picture of this fast-growing community. One of California's "richest diggings", John and Daniel Murphy's cries were among the first heard of "GOLD!!" in California. During one winter, it is believed that $5 million worth of gold was mined from a four-acre placer area.
Just east of Murphys is the community of Forest Meadows, including an 18-hole executive golf course overlooking the Stanislaus River canyon.
Continuing east on Highway 4 are the hamlets of Avery and Hathaway Pines. Avery's focal points are the newly builti Avery Middle School and the historic Avery Hotel Restaurant and Saloon, built in 1853 and known as the "Half Way House" because of its location between the gold fields of Murphys and the giant Sequoia groves of Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
The mountain town of Arnold is one of the largest towns in Calaveras at 7,000 residents. Starting at the 4,000-foot elevation, Arnold is surrounded by the Stanislaus National Forest with its renowned recreational opportunities and is located just four miles from Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The area boasts hundreds of vacation home rentals and second homes, one-of-a-kind shopping and a full fitness center. The community is largely made up of a convivial combination of families and seniors.
Adjacent to Arnold is the quaint township of White Pines, home to scenic White Pines Community Park and Lake, Independence Hall, Hazel Fischer Elementary School an the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum. Further up Highway 4 is Dorrington, Camp Connell, and the gateway to the alpine village of Bear Valley with its highly acclaimed downhill and cross country ski resorts.
San Andreas, the county seat since 1866, houses the government center, county services, the Calaveras County Museum and Archives and state-of-the-art Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital. Settled by Mexican gold miners in 1848, San Andreas boasts a colorful history including such notable characters as Joaquin Murietta and Black Bart. Today, San Andreas is a progressive community, known for its antiques and collectibles (and not in any way connected with California's San Andreas fault). Don't miss San Andreas' picturesque historic Main Street and Turner Park with children's playground, picnic tables, gazebo and skateborad facility.
Valley Springs is a growing community situated in western Calaveras County. There are three lakes within a few miles radius including New Hogan, Pardee and Camanche Reservoirs, where theres is great fishing, boating and camping year round. Valley Springs is home to the La Contenta Golf Resort and community a roster of unique businesses, restaurants and retail shops, as well as driving range, batting cages and health club.
Valley Springs was the eastern terminus for the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Narrow Gauge Railroad in 1885, which carried freight and passengers from the Central Valley and beyond. West of Valley Springs lie the peaceful communities of Wallace and Burson, the closest county approach to Stockton and Lodi.
Along Highway 26 is Mokelumne Hill, on of the richest digs and was once the county seat. As gold played out, Mokelumne Hill shrunk from a wild and wooly 15,000 to the quiet historic village that it is today. Many of its original buildings are still in place, as well as some new additions--a winery, brewery and the Mokelumne Hill History Center.
Nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountain at the 2,700 foot elevation and once a thriving gold district, West Point enjoys a fine climate, fresh mountain air and a wide range of recreational opportunities. The West Point story starts in the year of 1843 when Kit Carson camped on the bank of the middle fork of the Mokelumne River. He was delayed by the high floodwaters and named this, his western terminus, West Point.
Traveling the beautiful backroads southwest from West Point, are the townships of Railroad Flat, Mountain Ranch, Cave City and Sheep Ranch.
The southernmost community of Copperopolis, named for the 19 million pounds of copper mined in the 1860's, no longer holds claim to any working mines but is host to a numbr of historic and unique shops, the luxurious Saddle Creek golf resort and community and the beautifu Lake Tulloch Resort. Mining, workshop sites and other historical artifacts from the mid 1800's remain alongside buildings that have been restored by the perseverance and dedication of its townspeople. At its height, Copperopolis' population was between 2,000 and 4,000, which is where the current population now stands.
Nestled in the Sierra Nevade foothills and mountains due east of the San Francisco Bay Area, Tuolumne County is a wonderful combination of historic communities, a vibrant and diversified economy, state and national parks and forests, an outstanding quality of life, a cultural and arts center, excellent schools, popular tourist destinations, a reliable workforce, and a wide selection of recreational activities.
Jamestown is the first Mother Lode town you reach on Highway 108 heading toward Sonora from the west. Main Street is lined with restored Gold Rush era buildings that house restaurants, shops and other businesses reflecting the town's California Gold Rush history. Railtown 1897 State Park just off Fifth Avenue is an authentice railroad depot offering tours, excursion trains and special events throughout the year. The railroad's arrival in Jamestown in 1897 was a hallmark moment in Mother Lode history, bringing the world of commerce to the area. Jamestown is near the spot on Woods Creek where gold was officially discovered in Tuolumne County.
Sonora was born with the California Gold Rush and was often referred to as the Queen of the Southern Mines, and has been a center for business and county government since 1851. Sonora is one of the Mother Lode's most vibrant towns, preserving its history while serving as the commercial hub for residents in Tuolumne County. Many of Sonora's streets and landmark buildings are recognizable in early-day pictures.
Sonora has a population of around 5,000 full-time residents, but an additional 12,000 to 20,000 people, including vacationers, shoppers, downtown workers and part-time residents flock to downtown streets for shopping and business. The Sonora area's known history starts with the Me-Wuk Tribe of American Indians, whose members prospered in the area until the California Gold Rush. Today's Washington Street is believed to follow a Me-Wuk trail.
The Me-Wuk welcomed and traded with the first wave of miners in 1848, but they were soon displaced as word spread around the worls that the surrounding hills were rich with gold. Miners from Sonora, Mexico, were the first to settle in what they called the Sonorian Camp. Men from the eastern United States, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Canada, the South Pacific and China followed, as did traders.
Sonora became the commercial center of the southern Mother Lode. By 1854, the town had a flour mill, improved roads, and miners were able to get locally produced goods rathr than paying high prices for imported goods from the Central Valley and San Francisco. Life eventually became quieter as easily mined gold disappeared, but Sonora remained the area's commercial and government center.
For a feel of what life was like in a Gold Rush town, guests visit Columbia State Historic Park. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the streets of the historic town. The storefronts are like a flashback in time with signs that boast "Ladies welcome." Restaurants, hotels and shops--such as Columbia Candy Kitchen, Parrott's Blacksmith and Columbia Candle and Soap Works--can be found in the town's old-time business district. The Fallon Ice Cream Parlor and Columbia's Fallon House Theater offer ice cream and a year-long calendar of classic and original plays.
Tuolumne City, east of Sonora up Tuolumne Road, was once the home of the thriving West Side Lumber operation, and is still the site of the Tuolumne Rancheria, set aside for the native Me-Wuk. The Me-Wuk have built the very successful Black Oak Casino on North Tuolumne Road, just outside of the town. For the 1800 people who live in the town, the casino has shaped the area's appeal and local economy. Further up the road is the historic Arastraville School building, which now houses a preschool.
Mark Twain and Bret Harte may have given the town of Twain Harte its name, but it's the seasonal events that make this mountian resort community a popular spot to visit. Located about a mile off Highway 108 at 3,800 feet above sea level, it offers everything from golf and swimming to shopping, gourmet dining and overnight lodging. Twain Harte visitors can enjoy snow in the winter and a way to beat the heat of the scorching summer months.
The population of Twain Harte is about 2,500, but during the summer months 20,000 can fill up the village. Each spring ushers in a new season at the Twain Harte Golf Club. The club was built in 1960 and sees scores of golfers on the greens from late spring through October. During the summer, Movies-Under-the-Stars are played at dusk every Friday night and music concerts are held on Saturday evenings in Eproson Park. The community hosts a large art and wine festival each summer.
In the early 1800's Twain Harte was a pristine forest where Me-Wuk Indians lived with deer, bear, antelope, elk, and smaller animals. Pat Williams acquired 640 acres of land, including Twain Harte Meadow, in 1862 and built a ranch house near the famous Twain Harte Arch. The land was first subdivided in 1924 by Alonzo Wood and his wife Keturah. The woods names their land Twain Harte Lodge after Mr. Wood's favorite authors.
Once a stage coach stop, Sugar Pine is found among the pines and cedars 4,500 feet above sea level on Highway 108. Visitors can rent a lodge for a winter getaway and be at Dodge Ridge for skiing in no time. During the summer, it's a great place to stay for quick access to parks, lakes and other activities. Today, you will find restaurants, service stations, a grocery store, overnight lodging including an RV park and other businesses along the highway, making it a good stopping place heading toward Sonora Pass and a good destinationin itself. There also is a residential area tucked into the forest and several rural subdivisions nearby.
In Tuolumne County's early days, Sugar Pine was one of the more important stops along Sonora-Mono Road, which started at the southeastern edge of Sonora and ran to Bridgeport on the other side of the Sierra Nevada range.
Mi-Wuk Village was one of the first major subdivisions in the Sierra Nevada, opening an era that resulted in thousands of homes tucked under the evergreens on the edge of the Stanislaus National Forest. The town is 4,600 feet above sea level, with restaurants, overnight lodging and other businesses along Highway 108. Before 1900, most of the land was on the Ward Pike Ranch, the next stop after Sugar Pine on the old Mono Road for travelers heading east.
Once called "The Flat", Sierra Village, just east of Mi-Wuk Village, is now a small, but thriving community at 4,680 feet above sea level on Highway 108. It is a natural stop on the way to the high country. The town was named when Leo and Betty Ann Rice moved to a flat on the Sonora Pass road in 1956, bought a house and small motel and named them Sierra Village Motel and Liquor Store, with a small shopping area and a good-sized residential area.
Long Barn and Slide Inn are neighboring communities, about a mile apart, who take their names from long-gone structures. Long Barn is the older of the two communities, which got its name from a long barn built during the 1800's to house oxen, mules and horses used to cross the Sonora Pass between the gold mining towns of Bodie and Sonora. According to an account of Long Barn by Chet Bentley, whose father drove freight between the two towns, the barn could hold 70 animals on each side with enough room at the end for grain storage and a bunk room. Two subdivisions were developed in Long Barn in 1925, and rancher Warrne Beal built the precursor of Long Barn Lodge so people driving across the mountain culd stop for food and lodging. Today the lodge consists of a restaurant, a skating rink, rooms and a swimming pool.
Slide Inn was a popular snow play area during the 1930's, before Dodge Ridge Ski Area was built. It's named after an 1,800 foot long wooden toboggan slide that drew people from miles around for 20-cent rides. But by 1946 the slide itself had closed and was in ruins.
Up to 6,000 vacationers flood Pinecrest on summer weekends, but during the winter, only about 25 hardy souls live there. That doesn't mean Pinecrest dies in the winter. In fact, thousands of snowboarders and downhill and cross country skiers make the drive up Highway 208 each winter weekend, where the big draw is Dodge Ridge Ski Area, about a mile away. In addition to having eight lifts, a top-notch ski school and a race team program, Dodge Ridge hosts several snowboard and skiing competitions throughout the winter.
Pinecrest is in the Stanislaus National Forest. The lake, at 5,623 feet, officially called Strawberry Reservoir, is commonly called Pinecrest Lake. It's owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. When full during the summer, swimming, sailing, fishing and boating are popular. Pinecrest consists of 900 acres, including the lake, residences, group camps and campgrounds. Pinecrest Lake Resort has a store, the community's post office, sports shop, restaurant, bike rental shop, two tennis courts, a small motel, cabins, townhouses, summer snack bar, service station, marina and even a branch of the Tuolumne County library.
Located in the South County, the thriving community of Groveland is one of the last places to stop for food, gasoline, shopping and lodging along Highway 120 before you reach Yosemite National Park. Groveland is also a vacation destination in its own right, with hotels, restaurants and shops steeped in the history of the California Gold Rush. Tourists from arond the world set up vacation headquarters in town and take day trips to Yosemite and other nearby points of interest.
It has also become a popular place to set down roots. In addition to other property, Groveland has the major planned comunity of Pine Mountain Lake just outside of town, with its own golf course, airport, country club, stables, lake, and more than 4,000 residential lots. Groveland serves tourists from all over the world as well as more than 7,000 area residents.
Originally, Groveland and Big Oak Flat were named Savage's Diggings after James Savage, who discovered gold there in 1848. He left in 1849 when the Gold Rush started. By 1850, the camp was named Garrotte for its swift and harsh justice. In 1875 Ben Savory, owner of what is now the Groveland Hotel, convinced his fellow citizens to rename the town Groveland.