Coulterville along Highway 49 served the California Gold Rush in the 1800's.
The final morning in Mariposa features a hearty breakfast at Happy Burger Diner prior to the early drive north on historic Highway 49. The Motherlode Highway which serviced the California Gold Rush in the 1800's is a twisting, turning, roller coaster highway with typical desert vistas. At one high point, a monument to Fremont's Fort features an early morning view of the highway switchbacks below to the Merced River feeding Lake McClure.
Rich desert colors saturate the vistas near the shore of Lake McClure.
Twenty-three miles (36¾ KM) north of Mariposa, arrival at the old mining town of Coulterville resembles the into any heritage park, common in many cities, except this one is real.
The pride of past and present peaks through the weathered façade where many of the buildings could benefit from restoration at the expense of potentially compromising their ageless authenticity. A quick walk around the core of town provides the opportunity to spend time at the local coffee and pastry shop which also doubles as the Visitor Center where due diligence will determine the best route into Hetch Hetchy. Guides and maps provide good backup resources.
At the small town's major intersection, Hotel Jeffery commands the view with the General Store staking claim to an opposite corner.
Old mining structures occupy the area immediately behind 'Whistling Billy' on the opposite side of the intersection. No doubt, this is mecca for mining museum enthusiasts. The use of Newfoundland dogs is unexpected and surprising.
The remainder of the brief walking tour around Coulterville offers up modern conveniences and services disguised in buildings constructed more than a century prior. Coulterville hosts forty historic sites and is designated as a State Historical Landmark.
One day, a return to focus attention on historic Gold Rush Highway 49 north from Oakhurst, California could be an easily justified historical quest. From Oakhurst, the Motherlode Highway continues north, through Mariposa, Coulterville, Sonora and beyond. Certainly, there are many old, mining ghost towns more than worthy of exploration.
Today, specific instructions motivate the drive east on Greeley Road (J132) to the next hiking destination at Hetch Hetchy in the northwest quadrant of Yosemite National Park, California, USA.