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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, April 12, 2014: Mokelumne Hill, California



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.

To read more of PortMoresby's contributions, click here.




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I find stories of Gold Rushes to be absolutely fascinating!  One that always gripped me was the Klondike Goldrush in the late 1800s.  This was the last major one because after this telegraph and eventually phone lines change the world by providing more accurate information in a timely way, but in the late 1800s, everything was still word of mouth. It was at a time when stories of gold made 100s of thousands of people give up their lives, sell everything they owned, and head out to get their share of the gold.  


Generally the only ones who made money were the first few sourdoughs into the area who staked all the claims, and the merchants who profited from the stampede of prospectors.  Like the guy who built this hotel.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

My gg grandfather was a 49er, headed west with his brother and cousin, then returned by ship, Panama and Cuba, to Missouri where they farmed and eventually supplied the army at Ft. Bridger in Wyoming as well as working as guides on the Oregon Trail.  It was the next generation, my grandparents and g.grandparents that settled for good in California.  So the stories of The West have always been the lore of our family.  More places in the coming weeks.

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