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Mark Twain Cabin (No. 138 California Historical Landmark)

Replica of the cabin where Mark Twain spent the winter and wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

Photo ©

At the top of Jackass Hill, west of Tuttletown, sits a replica of the cabin where Mark Twain spent the winter of 1864-1865. He was a guest of the Gillis brothers, local miners, who lived in the cabin. The original cabin burned and the fireplace and chimney were built in the replica here.

During his stay at Jackass Hill, Twain and his friend Steve Gillis visited a saloon in Angels Camp and heard a story about a jumping frog. Twain returned to the cabin and wrote about “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” The book launched Twain’s publishing career. He and the jumping frog would later be recognized throughout the world. He also gathered material here for his book “Roughing it.” Twain would go on to write another 26 books, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” before he died in April 1910.

Twain was an author, a humorist and his life was filled with adventures that fed his imagination for timeless storytelling. One of his more famous quotes is, "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

The Calavaras County Fair continues to hold their Jumping Frog Jubilee every third weekend in May.

The glory days of Jackass Hill were from 1851 to 1852 when the diggings were rich with coarse gold. A lucky miner worked a few hours a day to build his fortune. Some claims of 100 square feet yielded as much as $10,000. 

Jackass Hill was named for the jackasses in the pack trains that rested on the hill overnight to and from the mines. As many as 200 animals performed a concert each evening and the area was named Jackass Hill to remember their evening songs during the boom days of the California Gold Rush.

The California Historical Marker is located 1 mile northwest of Tuttletown on Highway 49.
This site is part of the Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail.

Tuolumne County

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 county, 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.

About this Establishment

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

Share your experience. Please leave a comment below if you've visited this historical landmark.

Time Period Represented: 1864-1865

For More Information, Contact:

Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau
542 Stockton St, Sonora, CA 95370
209-533-4420 · toll-free 800-446-1333

Gail Poveda wrote on July 20, 2015: This was my second time there. I brought some friends from Tennessee to sight see and mentioned Mark Twain's history in the area. Turns out that one of the ladies I was with is the great-great-great niece of Clemens. Knowing that, there was no choice but to see the cabin.

W.K. Wolfe wrote on September 17, 2014: Took my kids here many years ago and we all enjoyed it very much. Lovely area and can’t get enough of it.

Rick & Barbara McChesney wrote on August 13, 2014: This adventure is a "must-see" for the entire family. Add this to your travels along Highway 49.

nate bruce wrote on October 21, 2013: I’ve been there.

Faye wrote on July 15, 2013: I used to live in California near here and would beg my mom to take me to Jackass Hill all the time. I love the history and that of other nearby places. Like the miner’s town in Jamestown. Cute and it feels like you're really a part of the history when you're there. Especially as a child.

Dee Dee wrote on April 29, 2013: I stop here everytime I drive through the area! Love the history!

We encourage healthy dialogue and interaction. Please include your first and last name. Comments must be accurate, family-friendly, based on personal experience and relevant to all travelers. Comments with profanity, threats, personal insults, or commercialized content will be deleted. Thank you.

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Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of National Geographic.

Longitude: -120.476590000
Latitude: 37.999090000
Elevation: 1652 FT (504 M)
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