California’s history is rich: literally! The state’s past is closely tied to the Gold Rush of 1849, which began after James Sutter found a large piece of gold in the foothills of Northern California. Shortly after, many people came to mine for gold, and the population of California skyrocketed.

The settlers caught “gold fever” for a reason! But few made their fortune mining for gold in California.

Today you can still visit these mining towns, and students from both San Diego and San Francisco CISL have the opportunity to do so. A trip to one of these towns is highly recommended: the towns are always located near a river or stream, and most have preserved their mid-1800’s architecture. The towns are known for having great shops and food (particularly sweets).

Your options for mining towns are endless, but here are a few that we recommend.


Mining Towns in California


San Diego students can visit this gem, which is just a (beautiful!) one hour drive from Downtown. Be sure to stop in and grab an apply pie from one of the bakeries: they’re famous!


Nevada City

Despite the name, Nevada City is not in Nevada! It is, however, just a two hour drive from San Francisco, and is located right on the “snow line.” You will notice how the trees change to evergreens as you climb in elevation, and how much cooler the area feels during the summer.


Angel’s Camp

Famous American author Mark Twain wrote one of his first stories, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country,” after a trip to this beautiful little town. Today the area is known as a haven for wine lovers: walk the beautiful streets, try some wines from the shops that local wineries have in town, and soak your feet in the river that runs through town. Make sure to get a photo next to one of the many frog statues, and if you’re staying in California during the spring, check out the annual frog jumping contest!


Idioms and Expressions with “Mine”

Mining has brought many idioms and expressions to the English language. Here are a few that are commonly used in conversation. How many of these are you familiar with?

Sitting on a gold mine

Definition: Possessing something of great potential value.

A mine of information

Definition: A person, book, or other resource with a lot of information.

Back to the salt mines

Definition: A humorous expression for “go back to work.”

Mine for something 

Definition: To dig for something.


Final note: The 1990s Disney movie, Pocahontas, uses the word “mine” often, and in an interesting way. In the song, the character is telling the workers to mine for gold, but he’s also singing that it’s “mine” (the possessive pronoun). Did you watch this movie as a child? It will bring back memories! Click here for a link to the lyrics.