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Experience Angels Camp, California

Angel's Camp is a great place to visit for a variety of reasons: There is the historical ambience--the feeling of being in a place that's very different from your usual home, rich in history. There's the small-town feel. There's the excitement every year in May when the frog-jumping competition takes place. And there's the opportunities for winter sports and sightseeing within a short trip, whether its up Highway 4, Highway 109, or a trip to Yosemite.

Downtown is antique stores.

Golf at Greenhorn Creek.

Great restaurants, like CAMPS at Greenhorn Creek or blah.

You can see a live play at the Fallon Theatre. Coming is "Church Basement 2", "The Sound of Music", "Mark Twain's A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage", and "Sanders Family Christmas".

You can take an aerial tour of Yosemite in a small plane from the Columbia Airport.

You can fish at the Springfield Trout Farm.

Columbia also has many restaurants where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, from the historic Black Bart's Inn and City Hotel Restaurant to Mexican and family/Greek food outside the park.

You can also have beer and other alcoholic drinks or sarsparilla at the three saloons in Columbia.

History of Angels Camp

Angels Camp got its name from a man named Henry Angel, who came here in July, 1848--a few months after word had leaked out about the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, near Sacramento.

Henry Angel came here with a large group of miners, including James Carson, who settled on the creek that now bears his name and developed Carson Hill, a hugely successful gold mine.

Angels Camp was first known as Angels Trading Post, which grew to a population of 4000 within a few years. Angel himself did a little mining but mainly became a supplier of goods to prospectors.

Only a few explorers had come to the area before the Gold Rush. One was Gabriel Moraga, a lieutenant in the Spanish Army, who in 1806 found skulls along the banks of river that he namers the Calaveras River, Spanish for "skulls".

Two decades later, another Spanish expedition came here to put down a rebellion led by a former Mission Indian named Estanislaus. John C. Fremont named the river that the Indians had lived on the Stanislaus River in his honor.

By 1850 the population of Calaveras County was 16,884, a major part of the entire state's population of 91,635. In the years to follow Angels Camp went to boom to bust to boom again. The placer gold that was at first easily found in the streams or by washing dirt with water petered out after a decade or so.

By the 1880s, advances in technology had made it economically feasible to exracr gold from the low-grade quartz ore that lie underground, and Angels Camp had by 1885 become one of the major gold [underground] mining areas regions in California.

The public park that you can visit today in downtown Angels was once the site of the Utica Mine, the most productive in Angels Camp, which operated until 1916.

As with other mining towns, fire was a huge threat, The town escaped it until 1855, when the entire whole town burned, from Angels Creek to the Catholic Church. [where].

The town, then mostly wood and canvas, was rebuilt, with many new structures of stone. Many had iron doors or shutter and sand on the roof. Fires still plagued the town at times, although the establishment of a flume-and-ditch system that brought water from the Stanislaus River, needed for the mines, helped.

Mark Twain and Bret Harte

The two most famous authors of the late 19th century, Mark Twain and Bret Harte, both visited the area and wrote about it.

Bret Harte came first, working as a teacher at La Grange in 1854 and then traveling north to work as a miner at Robinson's Ferry on the Stanislaus River. He likely visited Angels Camp, and most of his later writings were about mining camps like Angels.

Mark Twain came later, spending 88 days in the foothills, mostly at a cabin at Jackass Hill, on the Tuolumne side of the river, that the Gillis brothers owned. Steve Gillis had gotten him into the trouble with the San Francisco police that precipitated his move come here.

Twain visited Angels often, and liked the style of the common yarn about the jumping frog as told by Ben Coon, a bartender at the Tryon Tavern, in the Angels Hotel. Twain jotted down a few notes from Coon's telling. Bret Harte, who he had become friends with in San Francisco, encouraged him to write it up. When he did, and it was published in the East, it made his literary career.