california\s gold country
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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The Motherlode

California's gold country

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Arab Today, arab today California's gold country

Zip lining ride at Moaning Cavern Park
Sacramento - Arabstoday

Zip lining ride at Moaning Cavern Park Sacramento - Arabstoday One hundred and sixty-two years ago, these sloping foothills in the Sierra Nevada halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park were a magnet for fortune hunters — some from as far away as Australia — who were hopelessly stricken with “gold fever” when they learned that pea-sized nuggets of the precious metal could be scooped up by the bucketload from rivers and streams here. This part of California’s “Gold Country,” where gentle hills are covered with Scrub Oak, Ponderosa Pine, and knee-high grasses, was also the setting for American humorist Mark Twain’s iconic story of life in the mining camps, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” and was the favorite subject of famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whose silver-print images glow with light unfettered by pollution or overcast skies. Here, a few hours driving east from San Francisco, one can enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this overlooked part of the Golden State and do a little exploring. Just down Highway 49 — named after the thousands of aspiring millionaires who descended upon the gold fields in 1849 — is a fully restored gold rush town situated amid the rugged woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills: Columbia State Historic Park. A perfect ‘home base’ for three days of travel in the area that’s centrally located is The Best Western Sonora Oaks, its rooms provide spacious comfort and the hotel restaurant offers excellent food with a Mediterranean flair.  http://www.bwsonoraoaks.com/ Established as a tent city in March 1850 by a group of prospectors who discovered gold in what would soon be known as the Hildreth Diggings, by 1852 it was home to a thriving community that included 150 stores, hotels, shops, and saloons; three churches, a meeting hall, a Masonic Lodge, and even a branch of the Sons of Temperance. ZIP LINING AND FROG JUMPING CONTESTS For those in need of a thrill, try out the twin zip line ride of 1,500 yards high above the tree tops at a speed between 45 to 70 miles per hour, or tread down a rickety staircase to a frightening depth at the bottom at Moaning Cavern where ancient subterranean worlds are hidden beneath the rolling foothills.  The cavern was discovered by a gold miner who heard moans carried to him from the way the wind is blown deep in the caves.  He crawled into the mouth of his cavern and fell to his death.  “There is nothing worse that the darkness of a deep cave,” said Bruce Brand, at Moaning Cavern Cave and Mine Adventures in Vallecito, Ca.   www.caverntours.com/MoCavRt.htm Nearby Angels Camp is wonderful little town where the annual frog jumping contest, made famous in Mark Twain’s writings is held. Twain set his story here and each year the county hosts a County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee to celebrate the association with Twain’s story. COLUMBIA — A GENUINE GOLD TOWN When the gold boom declined at the turn of the century, Columbia was rescued from becoming just another dilapidated ghost town by the State of California, which declared the cluster of ramshackle buildings a state park in 1945 (for info go to: www.parks.ca\columbia). Today, dedicated restoration efforts have saved many of the surviving structures, and transformed the deteriorating town into a fully functioning replica of a gold-rush-era mining camp that includes the City Hotel, with a gourmet dining room and 6-bedrooms of traditional 1850s lodging. There are “Old West” refreshments at the What Cheer Saloon, family-style dining at Bart’s Black Skillet & Angelo’s Hall, blacksmithing and coal forged ironworks at Parrott’s Blacksmith Shop where you buy a horseshoe and watch them forge your name on it. There’s a genuine old-fashioned candy store — Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen, which has been in continual operation by the Nelson family since 1938.  Here they make 80 percent of the sweets on-site, including their own sarsaparilla root beer; one of only a handful of shops in America that make most of their candies on-site — from chocolate to lemon drops — using their family’s traditional techniques and equipment. Further down the street is Brown’s Coffee House & Sweets Salon, a quaint, delicious coffee shop where sarsaparilla and atmosphere also reigns. Hike up the road to cozy Kate’s Teahouse, for a good cup of something while you rest your feet; and don’t miss the “teacup and saucer garden” out back. In Columbia once can also get a gold prospecting guide at 49er Mining Supplies, which offers escorted mining excursions where you can try your hand — usually successfully — at panning for gold in neighboring streams. Reportedly, the region only gave up 10% of its treasure during the boom times of the gold rush. Not to be missed is a ride on the Wells Fargo overland stagecoach, run by Quartz Mountain Stage Line; it includes an attempted robbery by a “bandit” out on the trail, and the thrill of a real stagecoach ride through the not-so-bad “Badlands”. Visit www.columbiacalifornia.com/columbia_activities.html  for more information. DELIGHTFUL TOWNS AND STUNNING SCENERY A short drive away is Murphys, a far more up-to-date town that was named by the 2006 Frommer’s Travel Guide as the “Top Ten Coolest Small Towns in America.” This charming village has a working hotel as its focal point, Murphy’s Historic Hotel, the 155-year-old, two-story stone and brick edifice rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a “Eleanor,” an 1860-era housekeeper who died of a broken heart while vainly waiting for her fiancé to return from the goldfields. A few doors down from the Murphy’s Hotel — past a popular coffee café, a confectionary, and a pair of antique stores — is the surprisingly elegant Victoria Inn, a bed-and- breakfast lodging unlike anything we ever encountered. With its motto, “Quiet elegance in the heart of California’s Gold Country,” the Victoria Inn features 18 sumptuously-decorated suites and cottages, each one uniquely furnished with antiques, rich carpets and bedding, and state-of-the-art bathroom features. Visit www.visitmurphys.com for more information. From Murphys, make your next destination the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, with a brief side trip to see the 44-pound crystalline discovered at the 1,150-acre Ironstone Vineyard. The beautifully landscaped grounds of Ironstone feature a worth-the-stop restaurant, museum and gift shop. But what really brings people to this peaceful corner of Calaveras county is to view the three-foot-high lacework of solid gold known at the “Crown Jewel,” a one-of-a-kind nugget valued at over $4.5 million. Visit www.railtown1897.org/railtown/default.asp for more information. “Motherload Country” offers an off-the-beaten-track, fascinating and fun-filled learning experience to all ages.  Guaranteed.

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