Friday, August 7, 2009

"Queen of the Southern Mines"

We are now camped in Lodi, CA.

After some routine service to our truck, we were off to Gold Country. We headed east and south of Lodi. After driving past acres of grapevines, almond trees, and English walnut trees, we reached these grasslands that appeared golden.

Even a slight elevation offered a view of several miles.

As we viewed the plains from the overlook, we spotted this piece of furniture. It seemed to give new meaning to the interstate "Rest Area."

In addition to the expansive views available to the travelers, there were items of significance on a smaller scale.

Sonora, named after the miners from Sonora Mexico who settled the City in 1848, was known as the “Queen of the Southern Mines.” Up and down the entire length of what is now Highway 49, it seems someone was picking up or stumbling over a nugget of gold, wherein a new town would spring up overnight.

As we drove into Sonora on its main street, we tried to imagine what the scene must have been like nearly 160 years ago as the Gold Rush was beginning. Incorporated in 1851, this hastily established mining camp took on the identity of a town. The Tuolumne County Courthouse occupies a place of prominence in town,

and its tower can be seen from many points in town--over rooftops or between buildings.

Interestingly, much of Sonora is built above abandoned gold mines. Some of those mine shafts, historians say, were useful during the city's wilder times. Gamblers and bootleggers alike could make a hasty retreat when sought after by the law.

While gold mining was the driving force of the City, Sonora quickly evolved into the commercial, government and cultural center for the region.

From a population of around 20,000 during the mid-1800s to one of less than 5000 today, Sonora has been able to hold to its historic charm with many of its existing buildings dating back to the 1800’s.

The prosperity of California ’s “Mother Lode” that drew the gold seekers of yesteryear to this beautiful area is still being discovered today as Sonora remains the center of the artistic and cultural history of the region.

"Hope on the Hill" is the descriptive identity of the United Methodist Church.

St. James Episcopal Church--locals call it the Red Church--is described as "magnificent" in its simplicity. It was built in 1860. In recent years, church members learned that part of the grounds behind the main chapel is sinking. Turns out there is a huge abandoned gold mine directly underneath.

A walk along most streets in the City brings one into contact with small artistic treasures, such as this ironwork on a historic home.

1 comment:

Reina said...

Couple of comments (heehee). I cannot get over how much some of her sisters look like my memories of Aunt Caroline; And, it would be really cool if you could sometime post a map of where you are. Most of your locales I am somewhat familiar with, being a geography geek, but right now I am not sure where in California you are (generally speaking). I love the photos though, and read the blog faithfully, making sure to direct Mom to entries I know she'd enjoy (she doesn't even read MY blog faithfully!).