Gold Towns: Drytown

During the California Gold Rush, Drytown—two miles south of Plymouth—was a hotspot with a population of 10,000. As the first place gold was discovered in the area, it is the oldest community in Amador County. It took its name from Dry Creek, which runs dry in the summer. It once had stables, blacksmiths, butchers, schools, stagecoach service, several mercantile outlets—and 26 saloons. A post office opened in 1852. By 1857 the gold had diminished, so when a fire destroyed most of the town that year, its residents moved on to other mining communities. The construction of State Route 49 in 1920, which runs through Drytown, saved it from total extinction. Today the community has a population of less than 200, a general store, a post office, and about five antique shops. The town is a registered California Historical Landmark.


Gold Towns: Downieville

Downieville sits in a magnificent, rugged, wooded natural amphitheater surrounded by lofty, pine-covered peaks. The town, founded in late 1849 by Major William Downie, was originally known as “The Forks” for its location at the confluence of the Downie River and North Fork of the Yuba River. It was soon Continue reading Gold Towns: Downieville

Gold Towns: Columbia

In its heyday, Columbia was known as the Gem of the Southern Mines. Founded in March 1850 when gold was found in the vicinity, the mining camp population soon swelled to 5,000 as thousands arrived. By 1852 there were 8 hotels, 4 banks, 17 general stores, 2 firehouses, 2 bookstores, 1 newspaper, 3 Continue reading Gold Towns: Columbia

Gold Towns: Coloma

John Sutter, who owned a trading post in the Sacramento Valley, wanted a sawmill to produce board lumber. In August 1847 he sent his foreman James Marshall to a lovely little valley on the South Fork of the American River, which the native Nisenan Indians called “Ko-lo-ma.” Work on the sawmill soon Continue reading Gold Towns: Coloma