Monday, September 27, 2021


Driving along highway 49 in Calaveras County, seeing the old, abandoned steakhouse and only a small shopping center with a café, store and gas station, you might think that Mokelunme hill has become a ghost of the Gold Rush. Truth is that today's highway 49 is not the same one from recent history. This is a modern need to get off and see the historic highway to visit this tiny, historic town.

When you do follow the signs, you'll find a three-block stretch of historic downtown Mokelumne Hill. Don't worry about pronunciation, just call it Moke Hill.

Mostly, you'll find a pleasant but quiet stretch of 1850's era buildings. Some still inhabited and others sitting vacant. Hit it just right and you can find yourself in Shutter Tree Park, at the turn in the road in the middle of town, listening to live music from the stage or from the winery across the street with a glass of wine in your hand and, maybe, a little pizza from that winery.

That winery, Renegade Winery, seems more like a restaurant than tasting room. They do have quite tasty sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and salads to go along with their housemade wine and several taps of craft beer. Live music frequently appears on their outdoor stage in the warmer months, reservations are essential for those days.

Otherwise, you can grab some food and drink to go (or bring your own), settle into some lawn chairs or a picnic table across the street in the park, and enjoy the show.

If you craving a little more refined dinner, head to the other end of Main Street to the Hotel Leger. Serving guests since 1851, you can get steaks, seafood, and other delights in their dining room.

Across the street, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at Whoopsie Daisy which has a nice assortment of candies and treats.

Be aware that to get from one of of Main Street to the other requires wheelchair users to occasionally go into the street to navigate around stairs. It's not a busy street, usually, but do be careful.

It's a pretty tiny town so you can probably get most of the flavor of this historic town in just a few hours. It makes a nice stop on your way along highway 49 when travelling between Calaveras and Amador Counties.

Darryl Musick
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