In a region whose gold rush attracted cultures from around the world, it’s no surprise that treasures from many generations can be found in our area’s museums and antique shops. A fun way to immerse yourself in exploring the past is to make a day of visiting some museums and then going hunting for elusive period pieces in nearby antique emporiums.
Start off the day in the county seat of San Andreas with a visit to the Calaveras County Museum complex, where you can peak inside a 19th century courthouse – and its adjacent jail, explore gold mining artifacts and learn about the anthropological past of the county. Then get ready to for an antiquer’s treat at the San Andreas Trading Post and The Barn Antique Mall. These two sister locations under the same owner are chock-a-block full of unexpected finds – looking for a turn of the century camera or a one of a kind lamp? You can easily spend a day getting lost in their collections.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite grab a seat at the Pickle Patch restaurant. Their deli-style lunches are a local midday favorite, not only for their outstanding food, but also for their beautiful garden setting.
Make your way up to Angels Camp to the site of a once bustling gold mine at Angels Camp Museum. Known for one of the best curations of 19th century artifacts, you won’t want to miss the collection of antique stagecoaches or the model stamp mill. Their gift shop also boasts a wonderful selection for the history lover. Nearby you’ll find a few antique shops: Surviving Relics, which has a penchant for old signs located at highways 4 and 49, and in charming, historic downtown: Now and Then Treasures,which features more in the way of furniture and consignment items and Nellie Lou’s a beautifully kept antique co-op.
Head on over to Murphys for two specialty shops worth a visit for the collector – Tea An’ Tiques, with its fine assortment of everything for tea sets, and DEA Bathroom Machineries, where you’ll find a wealth of polished brass and porcelain acoutrements for the well-appointed bathroom, like antique and reproduction bathroom fixtures, high tank toilets, clawfoot tubs and pedestal sinks. Be sure to check out one of our newest wineries in downtown – Locke Vineyards, (on the corner of Main Street and Big Trees Road) whose owners combine their passion for the vine with antiques. You’ll find some one-of-a-kind pieces for sale in their tasting room. Insider tip for parents with toddlers on the go: their garden area is entirely fenced, so you can relax while you’re shopping and sipping.
While on the antique trail, don’t forget to visit another little gem of a museum – the Murphys’ Old Timers Museum located on Main Street. It, too, is jam-packed with Gold Rush history as well as photos and artifacts from the first people here, the MiWok. If you’re in town on a Saturday, take their free hour-plus walking tour of downtown Murphys. It leaves right from the museum at 10 am.
Keep in the theme of antiques with an evening at the Murphys Historic Hotel, just across the road from the museum. This period hotel not only serves great food and drinks, but also exudes a 19th century charm with period furniture, tales of the past and a saloon right out of an old western movie.