Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

California's Gold Country -- A Map

Dear Friends,

I've been asked about the California Gold Country, and where exactly is the area that's considered the California Gold Country. So I figured I'd post this map to give folks a better idea of where it is in the state.

I know this map is current, including showing where the airports are and such, but this is as good a map as I could find regarding the historic area as it extended out from where gold was first found in Coloma. Coloma is located just north of Placerville off Highway 49.

California's Gold Country is rich with history. Whether it's tales of those who came around the Horn to mine in 1849, or those who left with empty pockets angry at the world in 1853, this is the map of where that took place.

This is where Black Bart held up stages, and where Mark Twain wrote his first stories. This is where John Studebaker manufactured wheelbarrows for Gold Rush miners before building Chuck Wagons for cattle drives and becoming one of America's great automobile makers. This is where Phillp Armour made a fortune operating the sluices that controlled the flow of water into the rivers being mined, long before founding a meatpacking empire in Chicago.

In 1850, Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco. He was a tailor by trade, and came from a family of tailors. He arrived with the hopes of selling canvas tarps and wagon coverings to the miners in the areas on this map. One story that I heard said that he was sent west by his family to open a tailor shop, a shop of fine clothes, clothes for gentlemen. 

It's said that after going into the Gold Country and hearing that sturdy work pants were needed, a pair of trousers that could withstand the punishment of 16-hour work days regularly put in by miners, that he decided instead to manufacture canvas trousers. Of course, we all know about Levi's jeans. Well he got his start by traveling the Gold Country and then opening a store that made a mint off of miners who needed such a hardy trouser. And yes, a pair of his jeans cost $1.25 at the time.

Most of the towns on this map were only mining camps back in the day. Some were definitely bigger than others. And while some have survived, other old mining camps no longer exist. Mostly they're only ghosts of our past. They're just places we pass driving on Highway 49.

Most folks have no idea what that old building leaning and ready to fall once was. Most folks aren't really curious about that foundation that can still be seen in the distance. Most are unaware of the graves on many of the properties in this area, their weathered stones or wood markers to old to decipher the names of those buried here. Sadly, most folks are too busy going nowhere in a hurry to really see the land and history around them.

But for you, well when you're reading about the California Gold Rush in 1849 and hearing the names of towns being thrown around, hopefully this will help you. I hope it does.

Tom Correa




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