Gold Rush history; revisit the 49ers in Jackson and Mokelumne Hill
By Tim Viall
Looking for a nearby dose of 49er’s history and the Gold Rush? Take the 1.5 hour drive to Valley Springs, Jackson and south to Mokelumne Hill! The most scenic way to get there from Stockton: take Hwy 26 east to Valley Springs, then go north on Paloma Road to Watertown Road and turn onto Pardee Dam Road. This takes you right across Pardee Dam, with stunning views of the lake and past a wonderful EBMUD campground (if you are into camping and/or fishing, make a note to return). Continue on Stony Creek Road, up a beautiful valley and right to the south edge of Jackson.
Jackson is county seat and a very vibrant old and new town. Check out old Main Street, deep in Sierra gold history for a variety of cute shops, and stop at the National Hotel at the south end of Main. Built in 1852 and visited by many noteworthy guests over its history, this Gold Rush Hotel was extensively renovated a few years ago; stop in Stanley’s Steakhouse in the hotel’s lower level for libation or lunch. Once refreshed, visit the old Kennedy Mine and the historic Kennedy Mine Tailing Wheel #4, for a short dose of early mining history. And, if you like the casino scene, the Jackson Rancheria Casino is a big part of “new Jackson”.
Continue south on Hwy 49 to the wonderful old town of Mokelumne Hill. Along the way to “Moke Hill” you cross the Mokelumne River; just across the bridge is a lovely waterfront park where you can get an up-close view of the river. At the top of the hill is the old town, with a variety of well-preserved
Gold Rush buildings. Check out the Leger Hotel; a portion of the building served as Calaveras County Courthouse from 1852 to 1866. When the courthouse was moved to San Andreas, George Leger made it part of his hotel; and when fire damaged the building it was restored in 1879 and renamed the Leger Hotel. Today if offers quaint rooms and delicious meals in its Whitewater Grill. Take the time to walk the four blocks of old Mokey Hill and you will feel the ghosts of Gold Rush days!
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