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Cartoon animation hiking bear Pinecrest Lake
Tuolumne the
Bear says:
Come hike
with me at
Pinecrest Lake!
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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, Greek, Chinese, pizza, steak, seafood, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream, and expresso.

What's New. The Jamestown Hotel has opened, including a restaurant with California cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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.

See our new site for Groveland CA.

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
January 30, 2016
Volunteer Open House at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Volunteer Open House, 10 am to 2 pm. Come see how you can support the park while learning more about California's rich...

February 12, 2016
Guitarist at Gianelli Tasting Room in Jamestown. 
Please join us for an evening at our Tasting Room listening to the beautiful sounds of Spanish/Classical Guitarist...

April 2, 2016–April 3, 2016
Opening Weekend at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Opening Weekend for the regular steam train operating season at Railtown 1897 SHP. Grand Opening festivities with the...

April 9, 2016–April 16, 2016
Wildflower Trains at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Special afternoon Wildflower Train departs at 3 pm from the Railtown 1897 SHP depot, after a short video presentation...

May 8, 2016
Mother's Day at Railtown 1897. 
Bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing Mother's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP. Special treats for moms aboard the train when...

May 28, 2016–May 30, 2016
Memorial Day Weekend at Railtown 1897. 
Regular excursion trains depart Saturday, Sunday and Monday over the holiday weekend. Steam operations on Saturday and...

June 19, 2016
Father's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing Father's Day at Railtown 1897 SHP. Special treats for dad's aboard the train when...

July 6, 2016–August 31, 2016
"Special Wednesdays" Diesel Train Rides/Story Time/Junior Rangers. 
Enjoy mid-week train rides Wednesdays only during July and August with departures at 11 am and 1 pm. The popular Story...

July 23, 2016
"Rods to Rails" at Railtown 1897 SHP and Jamestown. 
Classic cars on display. Sponsored by the Promotion Club of Jamestown. Regular train schedule.

September 3, 2016–September 5, 2016
Labor Day Weekend at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Regular excursion train rides depart Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Steam operations on Saturday and Sunday, diesel on...

September 17, 2016
"Working on the Railroad" – a celebration of Sierra Railway workers. 
Join us at Railtown 1897 SHP and celebrate the workers who built, maintained, and operated the Sierra Railway. Take a...

October 3, 2016
Jamestown Art Walk. 
Art Walk in Historic Jamestown.

October 8, 2016
Apple Harvest Train at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Agriculture and the Sierra Railway freight service are long time partners. The Sierra Railway transported apples and...

October 15, 2016–October 30, 2016
"The Harvest Haunt Express" at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Special Weekend Trains!! The family-friendly Harvest Haunt Express celebrates the season with a "skeleton crew". Riders...

October 22, 2016
"Tales of the Roundhouse" at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Evening tours of the roundhouse by lantern-light. Real life & death stories of the railroad lives lost, why brakemen...

November 11, 2016
Veteran's Day Trains at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Celebrate Veteran's Day with a train ride behind an ex-military diesel locomotive with crew members who are veterans...

December 2, 2016–December 18, 2016
"Polar Express" Train Rides at Railtown 1897 SHP. 
Very Special trains for Christmas on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays!! Relive the magical journey of the Polar Express...

(Events are courtesy of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau)