Gold Rush Country extensive guide to Berkeley and San Francisco area, plus inspiring articles about trips around the world

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GOLD RUSH COUNTRY/HIGHWAY 49

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image courtesy of California State Department of Parks and Recreation

          The Mother Lode, as this area is sometimes referred to (a term that is derived from a Spanish word for “riches”), stretches along the entire route of Highway 49, south from Mariposa and north through Nevada City, ending in Downieville.  (On the other hand the Mother Lode veins, which run from Northern California to South America, surface in the area between Jamestown and Auburn and again in Nevada City.)
          All the main Gold Rush towns can be visited by driving along Highway 49.  But many scenic side roads lead to tiny hamlets with intriguing names such as Fiddletown and Rescue, inviting exploration. 
          This area provides history, adventure, and scenic beauty.  Not yet heavily promoted and packaged, it also provides many low-key and inexpensive vacation joys for the hype-weary traveler.  A thorough visit could take weeks, but a satisfying one takes only a few days.  For a weekend visit, don't attempt to drive the entire route.  Visit one portion and then go back another time to see more. 
          Because the area is steeped in history, consider reading for more background information.  Two classic books about the area that are also good for reading aloud are The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, by Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), and The Luck of Roaring Camp, by Bret Harte. 
          Currently there is said to be another gold rush on.  Many nervous people are staking claims, so caution is advised when doing any unguided panning or prospecting. 
          During the Gold Rush this area was filled with wineries.  Its rich soil and high elevations produce excellent grapes and bold, deeply flavored wines.  So be on the lookout for the nearly 100 wineries that have popped up here. 


These towns are arranged geographically/mapwise, with north at the top and south at the bottom.

   NORTH
Graeagle--Here and There
Sierra City--Here and There
     Big Springs Gardens--VIDEO--1 minute of a creek running from The Source
     Kentucky Mine--VIDEO--how a Pelton water wheel works
Nevada City--Here and There
Rough and Ready
Penn Valley--Here and There
Grass Valley--Here and There
Auburn--Here and There
Coloma--Here and There
   
VIDEO--Melodrama at Olde Coloma Theatre--Peas Pudding Hot
     VIDEO--Melodrama at Olde Coloma Theatre--Mary Had A Little Watch
     VIDEO--Melodrama at Olde Coloma Theatre--Mary Had A Little Lamb
     VIDEO--Melodrama at Olde Coloma Theatre--funny headlines
Plymouth--Here and There
     Zero in on Zin
     VIDEO--old-time potato planters
Amador City--Here and There
Sutter Creek--Here and There
Volcano--Here and There
Columbia State Historic Park
Sonora--Here and There
Tuolumne--Here and There
Jamestown
Midpines--Here and There
Mariposa--Here and There
   SOUTH

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