Murphys, California

Murphys, California

Murphys is the newest bonanza in California's Mother Lode. The historic Gold Camp is sequestered in a fold of gentle foothills of the Sierra distinguished by a clear stream and lush natural woodlands. A sterling mild climate, a golden legacy, and a liquid asset wine are fueling a rush of fun-seekers, not fortune-hunters, to this latter-day boomtown.

Placer gold mining and a trading post were established by John and Daniel Murphy in 1848. With the luck of the Irish, they were among the first Californians to strike it rich. By 1852, 3,000 people lived here, attracted by some of the state's richest gold placers. Boom times eventually ended, leaving a rich legacy of businesses, churches and homes. More than a century of peaceful prosperity followed, as the village was sustained by agriculture, sawmills, trade and tourism.

Today, nearby caverns and giant redwood forests (popular since the 1850s) have been joined by burgeoning local wineries as this area's major attractions. Increasing numbers of visitors pursue recreation and leisure opportunities, and explore remnants of Murphys' golden past. Mature trees shade a main street full of historic buildings and tasteful new replicas housing a proliferation of regional arts, crafts, antiques, and gourmet specialties including several winery tasting rooms. Nostalgia buffs can pan for gold, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, then settle into the landmark hotel (made famous by luminaries like U.S. Grant and Mark Twain) for unspoiled Gold Camp decor, warm meals, cold beer, and a cozy bed (including the one Grant slept on).