Calaveras County embraces the city of Angels Camp and several different townships, each with their own unique ambiance and amenities. While businesses are the economic livelihood of any community, it is the people who make up its heart and soul.
In Calaveras County there is a very strong sense of community, in each locale and as a whole. Each resident is here for the extraordinary quality of life, and many relocate to Calaveras to raise their families or to retire.
Angels Camp, the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, was named after shopkeeper Henry Angel who started a trading post there in 1848. Its charming historic Main Street is host to unique boutique shops and restaurants, and Angels Camp is home to Greenhorn Creek’s championship golf course and community, the third largest reservoir in California – New Melones Lake, historic monuments and museum, the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce Office, the Calaveras Visitors Bureau, new shopping centers and the county’s only movie theater.
Angels Camp is still honeycombed with tunnels from the many successful mines. Angels Camp houses the county fairgrounds, where the acclaimed “Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee” is held annually the third week of May. Just north of Angels Camp is Altaville, enabling a continuous highway of retail shops, lodging and services.
Situated in-between Angels Camp and Murphys are the communities of Vallecito and Douglas Flat, small and picturesque townships with a rich history from the Gold Rush. It is reported that the Dinkelspiel store in Vallecito produced the very first pair of Levi’s as strong pants for the miners, and the area was described as one of the most flourishing of California’s southern mines. Douglas Flat was a roaring mining camp of the early 1850s, and the Antone Giliardo store still stands as does the first schoolhouse built in 1854.
The Gold Rush town of Murphys, Queen of the Sierra, sports a charming main street lined with a vast variety of shops, fine eateries, art galleries and architecturally appropriate new retail developments. Murphys is the hub of Calaveras wine country with the lion’s share of wineries operating within a four mile radius. Romantic bed and breakfast inns and the historic Murphys Hotel complete the picture of this fast-growing community. One of California’s “richest diggings,” John and Daniel Murphy’s cries were among the first heard of “GOLD!!” in California. During one winter, it is believed that $5 Million worth of gold was mined from a four-acre placer area.
Just east of Murphys is the community of Forest Meadows, including an 18-hole executive golf course overlooking the Stanislaus River canyon.
Continuing east on Highway 4 are the hamlets of Avery and Hathaway Pines. Avery’s focal points are the newly built Avery Middle School and the historic Avery Hotel Restaurant and Saloon, built in 1853 and known as the “Half Way House” because of its location between the gold fields of Murphys and the giant Sequoia groves of Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
The mountain town of Arnold is one of the largest towns in Calaveras at 7,000 residents. Starting at the 4,000-foot elevation, Arnold is surrounded by the Stanislaus National Forest with its renowned recreational opportunities and is located just four miles from Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The area boasts hundreds of vacation home rentals and second homes, one-of-a-kind shopping and a full fitness center. The community is largely made up of a convivial combination of families and seniors.
Adjacent to Arnold is the quaint township of White Pines, home to scenic White Pines Community Park and Lake, Independence Hall, Hazel Fischer Elementary School and the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum. Further up Highway 4 is Dorrington, Camp Connell, and the gateway to the alpine village of Bear Valley with its highly acclaimed downhill and cross country ski resorts.
San Andreas, the county seat since 1866, houses the government center, county services, the Calaveras County Museum and Archives and state-of-the-art Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital. Settled by Mexican gold miners in 1848, San Andreas boasts a colorful history including such notable characters as Joaquin Murietta and Black Bart. Today, San Andreas is a progressive community, known for its antiques and collectibles (and not in any way connected with California’s San Andreas fault). Don’t miss San Andreas’ picturesque historic Main Street and Turner Park with children’s playground, picnic tables, gazebo and skateboard facility.
Valley Springs is a growing community situated in western Calaveras County. There are three lakes within a few miles radius including New Hogan, Pardee and Camanche Reservoirs, where there is great fishing, boating and camping year round. Valley Springs is home to the La Contenta Golf Resort and community and a roster of unique businesses, restaurants and retail shops, as well as driving range, batting cages and health club.
Valley Springs was the eastern terminus for the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Narrow Gauge Railroad in 1885, which carried freight and passengers from the Central Valley and beyond. West of Valley Springs lie the peaceful communities of Wallace and Burson, the closest county approach to Stockton and Lodi.
Along Highway 26 is Mokelumne Hill, one of the richest digs and was once the county seat. As gold played out, Mokelumne Hill shrunk from a wild and wooly 15,000 to the quiet historic village that it is today. Many of its original buildings are still in place, as well as some new additions – a winery, brewery and the Mokelumne Hill History Center.
Nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountain at the 2,700-foot elevation and once a thriving gold district, West Point enjoys a fine climate, fresh mountain air and a wide range of recreational opportunities. The West Point story starts in the year of 1843 when Kit Carson camped on the bank of the middle fork of the Mokelumne River. He was delayed by the high floodwaters and named this, his western terminus, West Point.
Traveling the beautiful backroads southwest from West Point, are the townships of Railroad Flat, Mountain Ranch, Cave City and Sheep Ranch.
The southernmost community of Copperopolis, named for the 19 million pounds of copper mined in the 1860s, no longer holds claim to any working mines but is host to a number of historic and unique shops, the luxurious Saddle Creek golf resort and community and the beautiful Lake Tulloch Resort. Mining, workshop sites and other historical artifacts from the mid 1800s remain alongside buildings that have been restored by the perseverance and dedication of its townspeople. At its height, Copperopolis’ population was between 2,000 and 4,000, which is where the current population now stands.