Once you have left Modesto, going east through Riverbank and Oakdale there are fields and little else off of highway 108 until you enter Jamestown. Jamestown’s buildings, including the Harley Davidson have a 1890’s look. Several community projects including restoring the Gazebo in Rocca Park preserve its old-fashion charm. There will also be 30 medallion stars put in the sidewalk, as reported here and a new feature on Main street and Seco depicting the town’s history in a kiosk.
Details about the Gazebo project from the original news story are here: Jamestown Gazebo Getting Makeover.
Jamestown architecture, includes dry-laid stone buildings, one with iron shutters that protected it from fire in the 1850s. There are also Queen Anne style buildings from the latter 19th century, with wooden boardwalks and balconies on the second floor. Sadly many were lost to a fire in 1966. Several hotels claim to be haunted by ghosts including the Jamestown Hotel, Willow Hotel and the National Hotel.
What defines Jamestown as truly unique is Railtown State Historic Park. Threatened with closure because of funding it is home to one of Americas last intact, still-operating (since 1897) railroad roundhouse. For more about Railtown is in the destination guide.
Jamestown’s elevation is 1,427 feet, and the population is 3,017. Children go to Jamestown Elementary and Sonora High School. Hidden away on Rawhide road is the alternative K-8th grade Sierra Waldorf School. The Waldorf School regularly hosts community events, for annual events look here, and keep an eye on the calendar section for more information.
History of Jamestown
In June of 1848, Benjamin Wood and party camped beside the small creek. According to the Bureau of Mines, a 150-pound gold mass found there resulted in 75 pounds of gold. The encampment was called Wood’s Diggings and later, Wood’s Crossing and was one of the very first finds of gold in the MotherLode area. For more about gold finds in the area visit the rock hounding page in the recreation section.
George James a lawyer and chief accolade hired local miners to work his claims and paid them in scrip. When he realized that he hadn’t found enough gold to make good on the scrip he quietly snuck out of town. The angry miners tried to rename the town American Camp but the U.S. Post Office already had several towns by that name. In 1853 the post office established under the name Jamestown.
Mining continued off and on through the years. On Christmas Eve in 1992, miners at the Jamestown Mine discovered several large pieces of gold. One of the larger ones is on display at Ironstone Vineyards weighs 45 pounds! That piece of gold is the largest piece of crystallized gold on display. Nearby New Melones Dam was completed in 1979 and offers plenty of recreation.
Jamestown Zip Code: 95327
US Post Office –
18303 Main Street, Jamestown
18249 4th Avenue 209-984-5623