Tuolumne County Then & Now

Tuolumne Cnty - river raftingCreated in 1850 as one of California’s original 27 counties, Tuolumne (previously known as Oro) consisted of 15 towns or settlements and numerous river bar camps along the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. In 1848 Woods Crossing (renamed Jamestown in 1849) had been the site of the first gold discovery in the county, followed by rich “strikes” elsewhere:  Mormon Creek, Yankee Hill, Sonora, and Columbia.  The western-most portion of Tuolumne was ceded to Stanislaus County when that entity was formed in 1854.  Jamestown became an important transportation center for moving supplies and equipment between the mining and logging towns of the area when the Sierra Railroad was established in 1897; Rail Town 1897 State Historic Park draws thousands of visitors annually. Tuolumne County offers a variety of recreational activities such as river rafting, fishing, camping, and skiing, as well as festivals, live theater, shopping and sight-seeing in its historic gold rush towns of Sonora, Columbia, Jamestown, Twain Harte, and Groveland.  Northern portions of Yosemite National Park lie within the county boundaries and the South Grove of the Calaveras Big Trees State Park crosses the Calaveras-Tuolumne county lines.  At Columbia State Park, the town’s Gold Rush era business district of shops, restaurants and two hotels has been preserved.  Home to more than 200 farms and ranches, the county’s produce includes fruits and vegetables, roses, wines, cattle, llamas, sheep and goats. Nearly half of the county is unsettled, as a major portion is occupied by the Stanislaus National Forest, the Sierra Nevada, and the Emigrant Wilderness. As of the 2010 census, the population was 55,365. Sonora, the only incorporated city, is the county seat.