"Gold Mining Town of California's Mother Lode" Sutter Creek by atufft

Sutter Creek Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 28 photos

It's Namesake Was John Sutter

John Sutter was the Swiss-born owner of a land grant along the American River, in what is now downtown Sacramento, whose employee, John Marshall, discovered gold in 1848. Sutter Creek is a fork of the Mokelumne River, and was named for Sutter after a scouting party had found an excellent stand of sugar pines along a ridge there. When gold was discovered, Sutter at first sent Indian labor to pan for gold, but soon the gravelly soils of Sutter Creek and all other streams of the area were extensively placer mined, and then later, the quartz ledges of the hillsides continued to be mined until an executive order of 1942 stopped all mining activity in California's gold country. Thus, the town of Sutter Creek, which began as a mining camp, and became incorporated in 1854, has a long and successful history as a California gold mining town, one that actually still lives today by independent prospectors. However, after WWII, residents of the town anticipated tourism in celebrating the centennial in 1949, recognizing that restoration of the old commercial buildings and homes in Sutter Creek could return the gold to the Mother Lode.

One of Many Gold Mining Towns Along Highway 49

Recently, from Jamestown through Sutter Creek, and the rest of Amador County to Placerville, Highway 49 has been completely regraded and expanded into a route that would be unfamiliar to gold miners a century ago. New businesses and housing developments are rapidly filling in along this route, but visitors can watch for the old route 49 that dips down into the old town that is settled along the creek. The buildings in the old town date from the early 1850's, but a fire in 1858 damaged many, and restoration mainly concerned those building and those built to as late as the 1930's. Most of the main street buildings date from the 1860's. Sutter Creek, and Nearby Jackson, are on the junction of Highway 88, that is a scenic all-weather route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains (see transportation tip). Other 49er pages of interest to VT viewers toward the south would certainly include my pages for Sonora and VT member jstark's excellent introduction to her hometown of Mariposa.

Architecture is Not the Only Attraction in Town

The best time to visit is in Spring, when the California Poppy is in bloom, or in Fall, when the tree leaves have turned golden. But, at this mid-level elevation within the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, the weather is quite tolerable in summer, and only a light patina of snow is likely to cover the ground in winter.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great Place for a Romantic Weekend Get-A-Way
  • Cons:Development Along New Hwy 49 Is Unfortunate
  • In a nutshell:Sutter Creek is A Good Stop Along the 49er Gold Trail
  • Last visit to Sutter Creek: Dec 2006
  • Intro Updated May 6, 2007
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Reviews (5)

Comments (4)

  • MD2nd's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2010 at 4:25 AM

    Lovely page with detailed tips! Wish we had some of those CA degrees.

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2008 at 11:22 PM

    I enjoyed your Sutter Creek page. Looks like a nice spot for a get-away.

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2007 at 4:13 AM

    What a pleasant gold mining town! There seem to be some interesting historic buildings which give it a feel of past time!

  • Vulindlela's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    Looks nice! We've been to a few of the places on 49 but never to Sutter Creek. Thanks for sharing!

atufft Visits Here Frequently!


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