April 13, 2012

The Golden Chain

California’s Highway 49 is a golden chain that connects most of the mining towns that figured so prominently in the Gold Rush of 1849 and beyond.  We continued our travels on this road and admired each town along the way.  Some like Amador City have only a few hundred residents, while others like Jackson and Placerville boast as many as 10,000 residents.  

Tiny Amador City
Downtown Jackson
Each town is distinct with its own quaint downtown.  Many of the Victorian-era buildings have false fronts, while others feature second story covered balconies.  In almost every town, we noted that the downtowns were mostly filled with shops and restaurants, and many towns offered local theater productions.

Trading Post in Angel's Camp
Downtown Angel's Camp
Downtown San Andreas
Downtown Sutter Creek
Distinctive Brick Buildings
Beautiful Victorian-Era Houses

The countryside along our route was equally lovely, with rolling green hills and a surprising number of vineyards.  It really is a relatively unspoiled area.

Fog Lingers Over the Rolling Hills
New Melones Reservoir
We ended the day where the Gold Rush began.  On January 24, 1848, in the Coloma Valley, James Marshall found flakes of gold in the millrace of the lumber mill he was constructing for John Sutter.  The rest, as they say, is history.  The Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma preserves the site where gold was first found and interprets the history of the Gold Rush in California.  Many original buildings in the town have been preserved, and Sutter’s sawmill and other buildings have been reconstructed.  It’s interesting to contemplate how this one simple event changed the course of California’s development.

Sutter's Mill in Coloma
Tim Checks Out a Miner's Cabin in Coloma
Main Street in Coloma


  1. Intriguing architecture! I really like that rock wall at the reservoir too! :-) LV

    1. LV, The architecture is so distinctive here. I'm glad you noticed the wall. I don't know the type of stone that was used, but the variety of colors made it very unusual. Sarah

  2. California is really new in the history of the United States but does have a rich history. Glad you are enjoying it.

    1. We certainly are enjoying California's rich heritage. It's such a diverse, and big, state. I'm glad we're able to sample so many of the different regions. Sarah