Northern Mother Lode

Northern Mother Lode.

Adventuring through this section of the Gold country, ranging from Sierra City in the north the Placerville in the south, finds you running along Hwy 49 through beautiful foothills rich with California's gold history.  

A town rich in history, Placerville once was nicknamed Hangtown because the law was so rigorously maintained. In Placerville's Gold Bug Park tour a mine that runs 350 feet into a hill. The El Dorado County Historical Museum contains a country store, an 1860 stagecoach, and turn-of-the-century locomotives.

A few miles north in Coloma, you can see a replica of Sutter's Mill, where gold was first discovered in 1848, at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Displays explain the 1850s Gold Rush era.

Auburn charms with its Old Town and a restored turn-of-the-century courthouse, which contains a history museum. North of Auburn are the mining towns of Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Rough and Ready, which once seceded from the Union.

The Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley includes a network of tunnels that run beneath the town. This mine was once the states largest and richest. More mining exhibits are displayed at the North Star Mine Museum.

Nevada City once was a getaway for the wealthy. Attractions include the Nevada Theatre (the states oldest continuously operating theater), Miners Foundry, and the Firehouse Museum, as well as Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, site of the largest hydraulic gold mine.

Continue north on Highway 49 into Sierra County, where wide-open spaces put you in touch with nature. In Downieville, the Sierra County Museum houses pioneer artifacts and mining equipment in an 1852 building.