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Day 187 - Nevada City & Sutters Mill (Photo's Added)

Stopped in Nevada City briefly, then drove south on Hwy 49 to Coloma, where Gold was discovered in CA at Sutter's Mill.

sunny 67 °F

We left the Harmony Ridge campground reasonably early intending to visit Sutter's Mill in Coloma today. However, I thought as long as we were in the Nevada City area, I'd stop there briefly at least and take a few pictures. This is a very beautiful part of California, up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountians and in the heart of gold mining country.

We didn't stay very long, but here are some of the pictures. They are thumbnails of course, so click to enlarge and read the descriptions:


That's it, just a few pic's for folks to enjoy if you've been there before or if you haven't. Our main goal for today however was quite a way's south, so onward we go.

Over the years, I'd gotten confused about the whole Sutter's Fort/Sutter's Mill gold discovery thing. For some reason, I thought gold had been discovered at Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento area. Sutter's Fort was in the downtown Sacramento area and was a thriving, growing settlement by 1847. John Sutter needed lumber to help his community continue to grow, so he entered into a partnership with James Marshall to build a lumber mill about 50 miles to the east in the low mountains where there are tree's. Sutter's Mill is where they discovered gold.

In the mid 1800's, there were no electric motors to drive power equipment, so mills were built on rivers where there was sufficient waterflow to provide power for the equipment using a water wheel. Sutter's Mill was built on the North Fork of the American River, about 20 miles south of present day Auburn.


However as it was initially built, the water flowing out from the water wheel backed up and kept the wheel from turning properly. James Marshall had his men start digging out the tailrace, which is the path the water flows out from the water wheel. The original mill washed away during a flood in the 1800's, but the CA State Parks has built a replica near the original site, but on slightly higher ground, just in case.


In some places they dug or blasted all the way down to the bedrock to have a deeper channel for the water to flow out from the wheel. On the morning of January 24, 1848 while he was inspecting this tailrace, he spotted the gold flakes that would change history.


The full scale model of James Marshall's gold discovery is part of the museum located in the Visitor's Center across the street. We spent quite a bit of time there after first visiting the site of the original mill and then also the replica mill built slightly higher on the bank.


The museum consists of both indoor and outdoor exhibits. It tells the story not only of Marshall's initial discovery of gold, but also of the impact it had on people and the development of California. There are also quite a few exhibits of geology and mining, such as this chart of the different types of gold deposits found.


One of the exhibits is an old, 1800's stagecoach:


Another is the ruins of the 1850's jail, Coloma was one of the first 'boom' towns of the gold rush, so the jail was quite busy in the 1850's.


After the gold rush however, Coloma didn't have as much to sustain it. A few settlers tried orchards, but the town really died back. Today it is mostly just a tourist town supporting folks who want to see where gold was discovered (like us). Here are a couple of views of the downtown as it looks today.


BTW - on the way down to the river to check out the monument there, I saw this Western Scrub Jay. He was quite far out and it isn't as clear a shot as I'd like, but he was so different than the Stellar Jay's that we usually see out here, thought I'd throw it in.


By the time we finished visiting Coloma and Sutter's Mill, it was late afternoon. My brother and his wife will be working until quite late tonight, but generally we try to settle down before dark, so we high tailed it up to his place as fast as we could, about 120 miles north of us (and not in a straight line). In spite of many temptations along the way, I didn't stop for anything along the way, even gas (the tank was pretty low by the time we got there...). There are two dogs at my brothers place, a great dane and a pit bull. They are supposedly friendly (once you meet them I'm sure), but I didn't feel like messing with strange dogs in the dark, so located a reasonably level spot outside their fence and we settled in for the night.

Art's sister in law (and Melody's sister) Denella saw our RV and stopped in for a short chat late in the evening (we'd been asleep, but she wanted to make sure we were OK, so that was fine).


Miles Driven - 161 (40 RT), Cumulative - 18,078
Camped at - Dirt Road outside my brothers home

Provisions Obtained - Gas $31.75 for 9.075 gallons at 127,835
Brick a brack at Gold Discovery Visitors Center Gift Shop...

Posted by jl98584 21:05 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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You must be doing too many chores, or having too much fun @ Art and Melody's place. Well, have a great time! Have you decided how you are going to get back to WA? I have a feeling that there's too much snow to see Crater Lake, even now in March. Its still snowing up in the Cascades, even the lower levels. It has turned crisp and cool here again, after that false warming we had last month. It hard to remember how cold March and April can be around here. The daffodills and cherries are in bloom, softball is going on in the playfield across from my office and it looks like spring and feels like winter! Vivian is going to Florida tomorrow night to see her 96 year old Aunt Alene for a week. Mike is trying to pay off his bills and is doing pretty well. He is buckling down, working as many jobs as he can get and doing it. I'm just peddling as fast as I can and hopefully progressing. see you soon, maybe in a couple weeks? Que

by drque

Sorry I got sooo behind, just lazy I'm afraid. Art had a great internet signal, I just was enjoying visiting too much, then when I had time to work on the blog - got sidetracked on YouTube again. Anyway, I haven't had any internet signal since leaving Art's until tonight, so will see how much I can get done.

Hope to head up the coast as long as we can. If we start taking too long, may have to go the rest of the way on I-5. Looks like we should try to get back around end of March, so we'll see.

by jl98584

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