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Experience Jamestown

A walk down Main Street in Historic Jamestown is a step back in time. You'll see a mixture of buildings from different eras. Wooden buildings dating from the winding down of the Gold Rush. Stone buildings with iron shutters from about the same time designed to withstand the fires that were common at that time. Wooden buildings in the Victorian style from the turn into the 20th century.

You can dine at the Willow Steak House (established 1864), where the builders of the Sierra Railway once hung out in the bar. You can have lunch or ice cream at Here's the Scoop, with its old-style decor including a bar that came from a historic San Francisco saloon.

There are gift shops and antique and collectible stores, with many items made locally.

In the small Victorian-era park there is the Jamestown Branch Jail, built in 1898 and very recently moved back to Jamestown and restored (See photo in middle column).

Several historic hotels can be found along the street, including the Royal Carriage Inn, the National Hotel, and the Jamestown Hotel.

A variety of restaurants can be found downtown, including traditional food, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream, and expresso.

Railtown 1897

A few blocks east of the historic downtown area is the state park Railtown 1897. This park has preserved much of the Sierra Railway, built in 1897 to link the then very isolated area to Oakdale and the rest of the rail network. The line carried lumber from sawmills in Tuolumne City and Standard to the outside world. It also carried quartz ore to processing plants in the Bay Area that extracted the gold.

You can explore the grounds. We particularly recommend the tour of the roundhouse.

On weekends April-Oct you can ride the steam train on a 40-minute ride that will take you west to the Rock Quarry.

Video Tour of Jamestown
Narrated by Stephen Willey from the National Hotel

Gold Rush 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 seemed that everyone then in California who could came to the Sierra foothills seeking gold. Woods Creek became crowded with miners seeking nuggets and flakes. Many were successful in that first year.

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.

Jamestown went through many boom and bust periods, and became more prominent at the turn into the twentieth century as a result of nearby underground quartz gold mines and the Sierra Railway, which transported quartz ore (with its embedded gold) to the plants in the Bay Area that extracted gold from it. The railway also shipped out lumber from the high country.

For more on the history of the town see our History of Jamestown page.





Events in Jamestown
April 19, 2014. Wildflower Train at Railtown 1897.  Last Special Afternoon Wildflower Train departs at 4:30 pm from the Railtown 1897 Depot. Prior to boarding the train,... Details

April 19, 2014–April 20, 2014. Art In The Park, Jamestown.  Art show in the center of Jamestown at Rocca Park. Details

April 20, 2014. Easter Brunch at The Hitoric National Hotel & Acclaimed Restaurant.  Easter Brunch Buffet. Call for details and reservations Details

April 26, 2014. Wine & Star Gazing at Gianelli Vineyards.  Soroptimist International of Sonora is hosting the Wine & Star Gazing Event at Gianelli Vineyards. The evening will... Details

April 26, 2014. Great Steak Barbecue.  Steak dinner $15. Also the Annual Rifle and Shotgun Raffle, tickets $10 Call for reservations. Details

April 26, 2014. Road Art Event in Jamestown.  The Greater Good helps Jamestown Harley Davidson kick off the beginning of Riding Season. Shop one of a kind art by... Details

May 10, 2014. National Train Day at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Join us to celebrate National Train Day - an annual celebration of all things trains We'll have lost going on in and... Details

May 10, 2014. National Train Day at Railtown 1897 SHP.  iv>
Details

May 11, 2014. Mother's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP.  Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing Mother's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP. Speial treats for moms aboard regular... Details

May 11, 2014. Mother's Day at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Bring a picnic, and enjoy a relaxing Mother's Day at Railtown. Special treats for moms aboard regular steam-powered... Details

May 11, 2014. Mother's Day Brunch at The Historic National Hotel & Acclaimed Restaurant.  Mother's Day lunch Buffet. Call for details and reservations. Details

May 24, 2014–May 26, 2014. Memorial Day Weekend at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Regular excursion trains depart Saturday, Sunday, and Monday over the holiday weekend on the hour from 11 am to 3 pm... Details

May 24, 2014–May 26, 2014. Memorial Day Weekend at Railtown 1897.  Regular excursion trains depart Sat/Sun/Mon over the holiday weekend, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. all three days. Details

June 7, 2014. Jamestown Antique and Wine Faire.  10' x 10" tents will line Main Street with antique vendors and wine tasting will be in Rocca Park. Details

June 7, 2014. Singing Rails Railroad Music Event.  As long as there have been trains, there have been train songs to sing. An important part of the American Railroad... Details

June 7, 2014. Singing Rails Railroad Music Event at Railtown 1897 SHP.  An important part of the American Railroad experience, this type of folk music was created and performed by railroad... Details

June 15, 2014. Father's Day at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Father's Day at Railtown! Bring a picnic, and enjoy a relaxing Father's Day at Railtown 1897. Special treats for dads... Details

June 15, 2014. Father's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP.  Bring dad and a picnic lunch to Railtown 1897 SHP for a special and relaxing Father's Day! Special treats for dads... Details

July 9, 2014–August 27, 2014. Wednesday Diesel Days at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Every Wednesday from July 9th through August 27th, spend some time with family and friends at Railtown 1897 while you... Details

July 26, 2014. Rod to Rails at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Join us for the 2nd Annual Rods to Rails Car Show as Hot Rods take over the streets of Jamestown, and classic cars are... Details

August 30, 2014–September 1, 2014. Labor Day Weekend at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Regular excursion train rides depart Saturday, Sunday, and Monday over the holiday weekend on-the-hour 11 am to 3 pm. Details

September 27, 2014. Pioneer Days in Jamestown.  Starting at 9 am, Main street will have family games, street vendors, "Guns of the Chosen Few' western reenactment, and... Details

October 25, 2014. Harvest Celebration and Parade in Jamestown.  Trick-or-Treat on Main Steet 11 am to noon, Halloween Parade at noon. Details

December 6, 2014–December 20, 2014. Celebrate the Season in Jamestown.  The first three Saturdays in December will have special meaning for the Christmas shoppers as Santa will be greeting... Details

December 25, 2014. Christmas Dinner at The Historic National Hotel & Acclaimed Restaurant.  Special Holiday Menu. Call for more information and reservations. Details

(Events are courtesy of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau)

Railtown 1897

A few blocks east of the historic downtown area is the state park Railtown 1897. This park has preserved much of the Sierra Railway, built in 1897 to link the then very isolated area to Oakdale and the rest of the rail network. The line carried lumber from sawmills in Tuolumne City and Standard to the outside world. It also carried quartz ore to processing plants in the Bay Area that extracted the gold.

You can explore the grounds. We particularly recommend the tour of the roundhouse.

On weekends April-Oct you can ride the steam train on a 40-minute ride that will take you west to the Rock Quarry.