West of Sonora just south of Highway 108, is this once-wild boom town, founded in 1848 by Colonel George James, who had been a San Francisco lawyer before trying his hand at gold. Lured by the discovery of a 75-pound gold nugget at Woods Creek, James became involved in a series of failed land schemes and departed the region a year later owing money to just about everybody in the area. Nearby Table Mountain is honeycombed with mining tunnels. Nuggets the size of hens' eggs were found in the Humbug Mine, which produced about $4 million in gold.
Nicknamed "Gateway to the Mother Lode," this Gold Rush town features restaurants and a picturesque main street complete with covered balcony architecture and handsomely restored buildings. Fires in 1855, 1966 and 1978 destroyed some of the old buildings. However, the National Hotel, which has operated continuously since 1859, thrives.
Visitors wishing to try their hand at gold panning will enjoy a visit to Jimtown 1849 Gold Mining Camp, located near Woods Creek.
Jamestown is also home to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Here you'll find excursion rides and roundhouse tours and learn a bit about local gold rush, rimber and movie-making history. At the park you'll find some of the old rolling stock of the Sierra Railroad, built by Thomas Bullock in 1897 to haul lumber from the mountains to the main line at Oakdale, a distance of about 57 miles. The old steam locomotives here have starred in such productions as The Virginian (1929), High Noon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Petticoat Junction, and Little House on the Prairie. The park is only open during the summer.
|The imposing Emporium (left and below, left) dates from 1897.
|The graceful National Hotel (above and left) is a Jamestown landmark. It has operated continuously since 1859.
|This effigy hints at Jamestown's wild past.
|The Jamestown Hotel offers accommodations in the heart of the old town.
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