Sutter Creek - Gold-Rush City
Sutter Creek is one of many picturesque Gold-Rush towns and is in the heart of the initial Gold-Rush country, just a few miles from Coloma, the location where gold was first discovered, precipitating the Gold Rush. It was a significant mining town for some years.
Today, with about 2,500 people, it is a very attractive, lively town. Although the downtown area is smaller than that of nearby Jackson, the county seat, and it is somewhat less impressive architecturally, it is also less ruined by modern roads, development, etc., and it has not lost so much activity to shopping centres. It also has become a primary tourist town in the county, though, so it is fairly touristy. Nevertheless, it has as a result a number of places to eat and a lively atmosphere, not just antique shops. The old residential areas around it are also attractive and interesting.
Gold Mining Town of California's Mother Lode
"It's Namesake Was John Sutter"
John Sutter was the Swiss-born owner of a land grant along the American River, in what is now downtown Sacramento, whose employee, John Marshall, discovered gold in 1848. Sutter Creek is a fork of the Mokelumne River, and was named for Sutter after a scouting party had found an excellent stand of sugar pines along a ridge there. When gold was discovered, Sutter at first sent Indian labor to pan for gold, but soon the gravelly soils of Sutter Creek and all other streams of the area were extensively placer mined, and then later, the quartz ledges of the hillsides continued to be mined until an executive order of 1942 stopped all mining activity in California's gold country. Thus, the town of Sutter Creek, which began as a mining camp, and became incorporated in 1854, has a long and successful history as a California gold mining town, one that actually still lives today by independent prospectors. However, after WWII, residents of the town anticipated tourism in celebrating the centennial in 1949, recognizing that restoration of the old commercial buildings and homes in Sutter Creek could return the gold to the Mother Lode.
"One of Many Gold Mining Towns Along Highway 49"
Recently, from Jamestown through Sutter Creek, and the rest of Amador County to Placerville, Highway 49 has been completely regraded and expanded into a route that would be unfamiliar to gold miners a century ago. New businesses and housing developments are rapidly filling in along this route, but visitors can watch for the old route 49 that dips down into the old town that is settled along the creek. The buildings in the old town date from the early 1850's, but a fire in 1858 damaged many, and restoration mainly concerned those building and those built to as late as the 1930's. Most of the main street buildings date from the 1860's. Sutter Creek, and Nearby Jackson, are on the junction of Highway 88, that is a scenic all-weather route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains (see transportation tip). Other 49er pages of interest to VT viewers toward the south would certainly include my pages for Sonora and VT member jstark's excellent introduction to her hometown of Mariposa.
"Architecture is Not the Only Attraction in Town"
The best time to visit is in Spring, when the California Poppy is in bloom, or in Fall, when the tree leaves have turned golden. But, at this mid-level elevation within the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, the weather is quite tolerable in summer, and only a light patina of snow is likely to cover the ground in winter.
J. Monteverde General Store
General Stores were very typical in the region in former times. They supplied the inhabitants with everything they need for the daily life and the work they did.
See the official Sutter Creek webpage for directions.
The interior of the museum. It was closed the time I was there, so just photos through the window...