Calaveras Big Trees State Park
The word "big" does not do justice to the huge, majestic Sequoias in this park. Of course, we've all heard of the famous Sequoia National Park. But this lesser-known state park has an impressive grove of these awesome trees, and is not over-crowded. Well worth a visit. There is a short, easy hike around the largest trees. Also, the park offers some longer, more demanding hikes. If you love the outdoors, it's worth a visit.
We passed by Murphys as we headed up Highway 4 on our way to Arnold.
Crowds of people were walking up from the old town centre on to the main road. They all seemed in carnival mood - it was Saturday 20th March, 3 days after St Patrick's Day and Irish Day in Murphys!
It was quieter when we returned to look around the town 4 days later but bunting was still strung across the street and giant, painted shamrocks were still on the road.
I've never quite got the thing about America and the Irish. Reading a bit of the history of John and Daniel Murphy, the brothers who left their name behind, after making their fortunes in the gold mines of the area did not increase my understanding one jot.
They were born in Canada the youngest children born to Irish immigrants who came originally from County Wexford..
In 1844 the family moved to Missouri and joined the wagon trails crossing the Sierra to the west, and California where they established a cattle ranch.
John and Daniel began to hear tales of the great Mother Lode and the fortune to be made from gold and trading. The richest part of the seam was said to be in the land which is now Murphys.
They were canny prospectors and wily traders who made almost as much from their trading activities with the mining community and transactions with the local Native Indian population - the Miwuks - as they did from gold.
Daniel returned to San Jose after less than a year but John stayed on for a year during which time he amassed .a fortune. So ended the brief sojourn of these Canadian-born brothers in the town that bears their name . As far as I know they never set foot in the land of their ancestors but their "Irishness" lives on.
They were not, of course, the only people of Celtic descent to join the Gold Rush - Scots, Welsh, Cornish and Spanish, particularly from the Basque area, were also here in signicant numbers along with others from England, France, South America - and China. Just down the road, near theJunction of 120 and 49, we drove through China Camp.
Early in its history Murphy became a tourist destination The opening up of the west and Calavera county brought visitors to the area intent on viewing the discoveries of places like the Calaveras Forest and the Big Trees. It was for these visitors that the present Murphys hotel was originally built. Tourism here is much more in your face than in nearby Angels Camp. It may even be the new Gold .
Our visit was a little too early in the year to find all local attractions open - including Mercers Caverns.
"Historic Gold Rush town"
Murphys is another old, historic town from the mid-19th century. In 1848, two Irish immigrants, John and Daniel Murphy, established a gold mine and trading post here. They became millionaires by the age of 25.
Today, this is one of the most colorful, beautiful towns in the Gold Country. Full of quaint shops, cafes, restaurants, and the like, it's a nice place for a brief stopover.
Murphys, Calaveras County
Murphys is another wonderful old Gold Rush-era town in Calaveras County, which was once one of the most populous and bustling counties in California from 1849 through the 1860s. Although unincorporated and smaller than Angels Camp (the only incorporated city in the county and the county's primary commercial centre), Murphy's is probably the most touristy town in the county. It s small old downtown is bustling with people and full of shops, restaurants, places for wine tasting, etc.
Numerous old commercial and residential buildings from the 19th centiry, including many old stone and brick buildings from the 1850s and 1860s, have survived and are well-maintained. In addition, newer buildings have filled in the gaps, so the the core is packed with people and places. Old neighbourhoods surround the main street.
Pretty much everything there is to do and see in Murphy's, and the whole downtown, is along Main Street. As with many other Gold Rush towns, especially the smalle ones, the town is comparatively narrow but long and strung out along one major thoroughfare, rather than being laid out with blocks or a square. The downtown is only one street wide and off this street there is not really anything but houses and farmland.