When my mother was a child, she and her mother spent summers at the Hotel LÊger in Mokelumne Hill and her father would join them on the weekends. Built in the early 1850s, when the population of Northern California was exploding after the discovery of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the hotel has gone through various incarnations, beginning in a tent and, from time to time, destroyed by fires and rebuilt.
Not long ago, I made a pilgrimage to Moke Hill, as it’s called by locals, and stayed a night in the hotel. My room was behind the windows of the upper floor, shown in the picture below, basic but comfortable and seemed like it might not have changed a whole lot over the last century and a half. Downstairs is the saloon, warmed that evening by a blazing fire.
Mokelumne Hill is located on Highway 49 in Gold Country, last official population count, 2277. The area inspired Mark Twain to write his first successful story, ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’ in 1865, memorialized in one of the longest running events in California, the ‘Frog Jump’, held during the May county fair.
To read more of PortMoresby's 'Gold Country, California' series, click here.
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