The 49ers, now the name of San Francisco's world famous football team, the term was coined
for the thousands of miners who flocked to the region after gold was discovered at John Sutter's
mill On the morning of January 24, 1848. James Marshall a carpenter was working on the mill in
Coloma when he chanced upon a gold nugget on the south fork of the American River. Despite John
Sutter's best efforts to keep it a secret, word leaked out, GOLD, a word that would change the
destiny of California from that moment on.
The news spread like wildfire, throughout the country and the Gold Rush was on. Within 3 years,
California's population exploded from 15,000 to more than 265,000. Most of these hopeful prospectors
were soon attracting a camp following of women (of questionable virtue) and speculators (with even
more questionable intent) who also hoped to make their fortunes. Many of them did unlike the miners
most of whom became bankrupt in their search for untold riches.
The legacy of the boom is there for all to see take a trip along any Main street off California 49,
whilst humming "do not forsake me oh my darling on this our wedding day", from the northern mines to
the southern mines and you will see a scene straight from the hundreds of Westerns that have been
filmed here. You will recognize the frontier setting with its saloons, wooden sidewalks and Victorian
shop fronts; I could picture Mongo KOing the horse in Blazing Saddles on my first trip through this
evocative area. When you stop for your evening chow it is hard not to order a shot of redeye on the
side and shoot out all the mirrors behind the bar.
The Gold Country boom lasted less than a decade as the seams were duly exhausted. During this
period Sacramento had grown as the supply town at the base of the goldfields. Sacramento, now the
State capital, continued to expand as it exploited another source of wealth, the fertile Central
Valley to its south which was becoming the vegetable-and-fruit garden of the nation. Sacramento is
not a tourist town but it is worth a visit to look at the old town and to potter around on the
American River. Sacramento gets hot in summer and if you have had enough of San Francisco's
chilling fogs and Pacific breeze, Sacramento will soon thaw you out! California's great Central
Valley stretches from Shasta County to Kern County--some 450 miles long and typically 40 to 60
miles wide. It encompasses 18 counties with a total of over five million people and over 42,000
square miles, one-sixth of the population and more than two-fifths of the land area of the state.
Running between the Sierra Nevada and the coastal foothills, the Central Valley, is California's
agricultural heartland. This enormous valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in
the world, is laced with thousands of miles of waterways and dotted with green pastures, orchards
and vineyards. Although there several good sized cities in the Central Valley, Bakersfield and
Fresno, it is also filled with the largest concentration of fruit farms, almond groves and vineyards
in the U.S. And there are little towns and wildlife refuges scattered along the back roads that can't
even be glimpsed from the main highways. Despite the scarcity of water (it receives less than 10 in.
of rainfall per year), a breathtaking panorama of orange and pistachio groves, grapevines, and
strawberry fields stretches uninterrupted for miles. Today the vineyards, orchards and fields
produce 25 percent of America's table food! Today, the communities of the Central Valley enjoy
rural expanses, urban prosperity, and an abundance and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
unrivaled in the world. It truly is a land of plenty.
The Central Valley also stands on the doorstep of some of America's greatest attractions, the
most well known being Yosemite National Park. The two Central Valley towns, Merced and Visalia, are
good gateways to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, respectively. For all the information on these
national treasures go to our feature on the California Mountain Region
After you have read and digested all we have written about this wonderful holiday destination
we will help you with every facet of planning, booking and savouring that tingle of anticipation
that comes with a major trip to the Golden State. We will offer you the latest offers and best
deals for your cheap flight to California, Hotels in California, best-priced tickets for Disneyland
California, all your accommodation in California if you are traveling, plus the cheapest car hire
in California, a guide to the wine country with a guide to the best California wine to sample.
There is an exclusive guide to the national parks at Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. We leave
nothing to chance for your holidays in California so while you are "California Dreaming"; we are
constantly updating the offers in our California guide so that you can rest happy "on such a winter's