Considered the gateway to the Mother Lode, Jamestown has both preserved and prospered long after the boom and bust years of the Gold Rush. Visitors strolling through the town will see period architecture in city buildings and homes. The railroad was one of Jamestown’s primary assets from its earliest days. The railroad transported quartz, lumber and other goods out of the county. By 1898, working on the railroad was the primary place of work for area residents.
The first person to find gold in Jamestown was Benjamin Wood from Oregon. He arrived in 1848, a few months after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill. Woods Creek was named for him. The town was named for Colonel George F. James, a wealthy attorney from San Francisco. James became the first mayor and later presented the town residents with a series of shady get-rich schemes. None of them were successful and James left town under the cover of night and never returned.
The Historic National Hotel is one of a handful of continuously operating hotels since the Gold Rush. The Jamestown Hotel currently operating has been renovated and used for multiple purposes since the Gold Rush. The hotel burned down twice and was rebuilt again in the 1970s.
At one time, the Jamestown Hotel was the Mother Lode Hospital. A young woman from out of town stepped off the train and checked into the hospital to deliver her baby. Unfortunately, the young woman, Mary Rose and her baby died during childbirth. She had been forbidden to see her husband in her homeland and he was sent away. He later died a war prisoner in India. Shortly after her death, there were instances where she and her husband’s spirit were said to be staying in the hospital room where she died.
Today the railroad continues to be a major part of life in Jamestown, as the home of the Steam Sierra Railway and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Railtown is a fully operational locomotive repair and maintenance facility and open for public tours, events and rides. Visit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and California State Railroad Museum for more information about trains.
The California Historical Landmark is located on the northeast corner of Main and Donovan Streets in Jamestown. This site is part of the Mark Twain and Bret Harte Trail.
A treasure of natural wonders and lively Gold Rush history, Tuolumne County offers visitors vivid scenery. A portion of Yosemite National Park lies within the country, along with giant redwood groves and impressive geological features. Both Bret Harte and Mark Twain wrote stories set in this area during the Gold Rush.