Travel Gold Country
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Explore hidden gems along historic Highway 49 (2)
boats, pontoon boats IGNITE YOUR SENSES and fishing boats. They also rent double-person kayaks, single-person kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes, and is at full water capacity all summer. It’s located on the launching ramp at Long Ravine campground.

Another can’t-miss lake is Lake Clementine. Created when the North Fork Dam of the American River was built in 1939, this small lake features a boat launch ramp, marina and — for the adventurous — boat-in campsites. It offers steep forested canyon walls and contains several large high quality limestone deposits — one large vertical outcropping of which is known as Robbers Roost — and offers climbing and caving opportunities.

A popular hiking, running and mountain biking trail runs from the dam area, continues downstream below the 730 feet (223 m) in height Foresthill Bridge, linking Lake Clementine to the North and Middle Forks American River Confluence area below the dam. The dam rises 155 feet above the foundation and has a crest elevation of 718 feet. The reservoir is about 3.5 miles long and has steep canyon walls.

TUOLUMNE COUNTY

When Teresa Torbett is asked about her new venture as proprietor of Columbia Mercantile 1855, located in the historic town of Columbia, she said, “It’s a little bit like Trader Joe’s meets ‘Little House on the Prairie.’”

Opened in May 2018, Torbett took an old sundry store and turned it into what an 1855 provisionary store would look like, stacking food and other wares as they would be a century-andahalf ago.

“I even dress the part,” she said. “It takes about 20 minutes just to put on my petticoats.” But the difference is that the store offers 21st century products, such as gourmet cheeses and modern foods. The store also offers an art gallery from local artists that reflect its Gold Rush heritage. Torbett moved to Sonora from Walnut Creek and enlisted the help of her entire family to make sure the store fit her vision. She often gets new ideas from her customers.

For fun for the whole family, check out Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Everyone will love the ride behind a historic steam engine or diesel locomotive through the scenic Gold Country, program manager Sam Mello said.

The six-mile, 45-minute ride will take you past the water tower from “Petticoat Junction,” by the backyards of Jamestown and through the beautiful hillsides of the Mother Lode.

Railtown 1897’s Crew for a Day program is a unique program that allows riders to get up close and personal with the steam engine, as well as gives opportunities to learn from the volunteers and staff who maintain the locomotives. This educational and hands-on experience will have you greasing the locomotive, wiping down rods and the tender, opening valves and learning from the conductor about hand signals, throwing switches and performing air tests.

Enjoy a cab ride while blowing the whistle and ringing the bell. Other special events include “train robberies, Halloween festivities, haunted tours and The Polar Express Train Ride.

If all the Gold Country activities are making you thirsty, don’t miss Indigeny Reserve, a lush 160-acre preserve and apple orchard with a twist. It offers handcrafted hard cider, apple brandy aged in oak barrels and fruit-infused vodka.

Besides enjoying the views from the Reserve, tour the authentic double copper-pot distillery, learn about apple fermentation and watch the seasonal crush. Indigeny, all eco-friendly, also offers shaded picnic areas, self-guided walking trails and special events.

AMADOR COUNTY

In Amador County, The Kennedy Gold Mine produced approximately $34,280,000 in gold, according to the California Department of Conservation.

One of the tallest head frames in existence today can be seen at the mine. The mine also had one of the largest stamp mills in the Mother Lode, moving tailings by means of huge wooden wheels, some of which are still standing.

But what is unique about the mine — besides being able to view the surface mine office where gold flakes were melted into bricks to be shipped to San Francisco — is the mine itself, which offers great insight into how miners dug for their fortunes and moved them through the deep railways. And these days, the mine offers something for modern-day visitors: It is a unique venue for weddings and other special events. Up in Sutter Creek is what is known as a historic crown jewel: The Knight Foundry. It is America’s last waterpowered foundry and machine shop. Established in 1873 by Samuel Knight, this unique facility includes the historic equipment and machinery, still in its original place, just as it was during the heart of the Gold Rush. It is nationally recognized as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and a California Registered Historical Landmark. The foundry is one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.

If you are looking for a time capsule that reflects a century of Chinese Gold Rush history, don’t miss Fiddletown’s Chew Kee Store. Everything in the store is authentic, reflecting the daily life and work of its various inhabitants — from herb doctor Yee Fung Cheung, who founded the store in the mid-1850s, to merchantgambler Chew Kee and wife, Sigh Choy, and their adopted son “Jimmie” Chow (Fong Chow Yow).

The building was constructed by Chinese workers using the traditional Chinese technique of rammed earth, resulting in thick mud-packed walls that cool the structure during hot summer days. The store served as a business and home for its residents.