April 12, 2012

The Mother Lode

Tim and I arrived in the gold country on Monday afternoon and have been holed up here ever since, waiting out the heavy rains and thunderstorms.  California’s gold country is located along the western foothills of the Central Sierra Nevada, and Highway 49 runs right through it.  Gold was discovered in these hills in the nineteenth century, and the famous Gold Rush of 1849 brought scores of people to this area with hopes of striking it rich.

Today’s tourists are typically looking for a different type of experience, and the quaint old mining towns, the natural beauty of the area and the countless recreational opportunities provide wonderful opportunities for exploration.  This appears to be one of the lesser known regions of California, but I think it’s one of the most charming.

We are staying at the 49er RV Ranch, a former dairy farm established in 1852.  Located in Columbia, California, the ranch retains several of its original structures, as well as assorted ranch equipment.  The staff has been wonderful, and we’ve been having a great time. During yesterday’s downpour, the owner even volunteered to go out for pizza for anyone who might be interested.  That is what I call hospitality!

Columbia is often referred to as the “Gem of the Southern Mines,” and much of the original town is now a state historic park.  Columbia is a living history museum and is considered to be the best preserved gold rush town in California.  It was fun to wander through the town and imagine it as it might have been after gold was discovered here in 1850.

Columbia Became a State Historic Park in 1945
Columbia Is Noted for its Red Brick Buildings
By 1853 Columbia Was One of the Largest Cities in California
As Much as $150 Million in Gold Was Mined in Columbia
Several Fires Left Only the Brick Buildings Standing
Firehouse Columbia Engine Company #1
We spent much of today in neighboring Sonora, another bustling mining town and the county seat of Tuolumne County.  Sonora is a larger town and contains a thriving downtown with historic buildings that house interesting shops and restaurants.  We had a great lunch at Sonora Thai Cuisine and picked up dinner to-go at Stuffit Ravioli.  That was such a cool place, with gourmet homemade ravioli and deep-fried pies.  Delicious!  We especially enjoyed talking with the owner and hearing about her business.

Downtown Sonora Is a Bustling Place
Historic Hotels Have Been Preserved
Interesting Architecture Can Be Found in Downtown Sonora
Downtown Sonora Was a Pleasant Place to Explore
One of the reasons we ended up in Sonora was to visit a dentist.  We’ve done really well for the last seven months, and have only had one medical issue when Tim needed a bit of physical therapy last October.  Last night, however, one of my crowns popped loose, and I needed to have it cemented back in.  Luckily I had no pain and was even luckier in finding a dentist this morning who had just received a cancellation.  Dr. Hardy saw me this afternoon and reattached the crown.  It was that simple.  What a relief.


  1. You must have worn that crown out eating all this good food across the country. ha ha Glad you found a dentist! Do the thunder storms scare Kitty? LV

    1. LV, Ha! Ha! But, it was worth it!. It's strange, but Kitty doesn't seem to be bothered by thunderstorms. Only by birds and squirrels. Sarah