Explore: The Gold Country


In the year 1848, news about the discovery of gold in California spread like wildfire. People from all over the world traveled to what would be known as the Gold Country, hoping to strike it rich.

The Gold Country covers the land west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains all the way to the Sacramento Valley, but gold was first found in Colma, California. Located about 30 miles south of Colma is small town with a population of 5,400 that is near and dear to my heart: Jackson. 

My great-great-aunt and uncle mined on a ranch over 100 years ago, until eventually, their son bought the land for them to live out their years. The property has been passed down from each generation to the next. Since then, it's where I've spent holidays, birthdays, and summer and weekend trips.

The 200-acre ranch is filled with cows, horses, ponds, swimming pools, basketball and tennis courts, but most importantly, history. It’s where I learned how to drive, ride my first bike, and where I caught my first fish. It’s where I've celebrated every Christmas. This town is where my family’s graveyard is—and where critters and bugs I didn’t even know existed slither through the night.

An entryway to an old mine.

On my recent visit to Jackson, I went on a hike with my family to explore some of the old mines that my great uncle once ran. Five miles in, we reached a hidden spot that only the older members of our family have ever been. There, we discovered rusted mining tools, a worn out pulley system, overgrown holes in the ground, and various caves in the hillside. I’ve never been in such a cool place. Standing in that spot, I felt connected to my family’s past and the olden days of Jackson.

Growing up, I learned about the history of the California Gold Rush and how it impacted the world. Reading about the history in school was one thing, but actually going out and exploring the land gave me a completely new take on California’s past.

I felt like a part of history.

Jackson from above.


Photos | Kathlyn Craigie
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