Jimtown 1849 Gold Mining Camp

It was late fall 1990. It was a dry year and the grizzled, old world famous prospector was leading a group of his staff on a gold prospecting expedition. It had been a six-year drought and gold was not being replenished as it does in years of normal precipitation.

Ralph Shock took his people to the banks of Wood's Creek which has been touted as the "richest creek of its size in California". The gold they were seeking was deposited thousands of years ago. However, as they dug in the hard, dry earth; they were uncovering all kinds of items which had obviously been there for some time.

Ralph discovered an old rusted pistol that was still loaded! He found another pistol, an old knife, lanterns, a gold pan, a tin box wrapped in oil cloth and much, much more. He thought it strange to find so many artifacts in one area. His crew kept digging and found even more artifacts. They even uncovered stones which had been blackened on one side proving that campfires had been used in the area.

After Ralph discovered the foundation of an old cabin, he decided to find out some more information about this site. He spoke with Art Dubuque, owner of the property, and visited the Tuolumne County Museum in Sonora. He found that the Mi-Wok indians had used the area before any white man. Ralph had uncovered some grinding rocks for which the Mi-Wok are famous. Jim Kirkendahl, Dubuque's son-in-law, told Ralph that Grizzly Adams had a saloon tent right there at Wood's Creek.

The area where Ralph discovered the artifacts was called Soldier's Gulch which is near Monte Carlo Gulch where a seasonal stream flows into Wood's Creek just above the bridge on Jamestown Road up Wigwam Road. (On November 1996 - at this site we found 1 brass knuckle, a pistol and 2 old dominoes) There are a great many other gold camps which have long disappeared from existence and man's minds. It is prospectors like Ralph who sometimes discover these remnants and bring them back to life.

Ralph wanted to preserve this history for future generations. He located some tent patterns dating back to 1833 and ordered several authentic tents from a company back East. He then started locating old pots, pans and gold mining equipment; some of which were actually found at the Jimtown 1849 Gold Mining Camp as Ralph called it. He built a new cabin on the old foundation and as Mark Twain was known to be in the area during the Gold Rush, he named it Mark Twain's Cabin. It has been dedicated to Bob Rice who built it and worked with Ralph for many years. Bob had moved to this area with his family during the depression. Bob and his family survived the depression by mining gold from Wood's Creek.

Gold Prospecting Adventures has been instrumental in assisting children to experience their heritage. The thousands of children who visit Jimtown 1849 Gold Mining Camp each year with their schools get to see how the 49ers lived and receive the hands-on experience of finding their own gold.

At the camp the kids learn history of the area from costumed prospectors and sometimes a claim jumper or two will invade the camp. Even Mark Twain may pay a visit to the camp and talk with the children.

We don't set any limits on the gold which the camp's visitors may find. These new prospectors are finding gold on every expedition of two hours or more, provided they follow the prospector's instructions.

The camp has also been the site of several movies, documentaries and news programs. In fact, Jamestown is probably the most filmed and photographed mining town in the Mother Lode. "Little House on the Prairie", "Pale Rider", "Bad Girls", and "Back to the Future III" are just a scant few of the projects filmed in Jimtown! Over 227 movies have been made here since 1919.

Ralph is continuously adding historical aspects to the camp. Soon, there will be a working replica of Sutter's Mill complete with reenactments of James Marshall's discovery on January 24, 1848.

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Gold Prospecting Adventures, LLC
P.O. Box 1040
Jamestown, CA 95327-1040


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