Jamestown proper is located on the Highway 108/49 corridor and is the first town you come upon entering Tuolumne County from the west. The population is approximately 2300 and its elevation is 1405 feet. Several of its buildings date back to the 1870s. There are residential property and commercial real estate investment opportunities in this tiny hamlet.
The town is well known for its antique shops, dining and gold panning, and is the location of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park contains the workshops, roundhouse, and steam locomotives and cars of the Sierra Railway which arrived in Jamestown in 1897. Steam train rides are available on weekends. Call for schedules and fares: (209) 984-3953 or www.railtown1897.org
History: In the early summer of 1848—a few months after the famous discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento that started the Gold Rush—an Oregon man named Benjamin Wood discovered the first gold in the area in what is now known as Woods Creek. The discovery site is about 1 mile west of what is today downtown Jamestown.
It took nearly a year for word of gold discoveries to reach the East Coast and, most importantly, be believed. Once it was, a mass migration of miners began from the East Coast and other nations to California, by wagon train or by ship via Cape Horn or the shortcut through the malaria-infested jungle of Panama. Pickings became tougher for those arriving in later years, and most miners went back home richer only in terms of the tales of their experiences.
Jamestown was named for a man who came here from San Francisco named Col. George F. James, who set up a tent near Woods Creek selling food and supplies for the miners. He was the town’s first alcade, a sort of Godfather-like official unique to the legal system at that time, when California was still part of Mexico. He eventually disappeared under a cloud, leaving many unhappy investors in his schemes.
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