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Get to know Angels Camp

California’s other “City of Angels'' is a place of legend in Gold Rush lore. Settled in 1848, Angel's Camp boomed with the discovery of gold-laden quartz veins on the outskirts of town, turning out some $20 million in bullion. The most famous prospector to try their luck here was a young writer by the name of Samuel Clemens, who at the Angels Hotel one night overheard the story that inspired "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," a breakout success under his newly adopted nom de plume: Mark Twain. The hotel still stands today, and you can even visit the nearby cabin where Twain penned the story, called Jackass Hill. History remains a major attraction in Angels Camp, with its downtown of remarkably preserved period buildings and the Angels Camp Museum, which hosts a collection of old mining equipment, the state’s oldest schoolhouse, and in true Calaveras County tradition, an annual frog-jumping contest.

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Living in the Sierra Foothills

Long before Huell Howser chased California’s figurative gold on television, the Sierra Foothills staked its claim as California’s real gold country, yielding a fortune in ore and lumber that quite literally helped build the state. By its traditional delineation, the region is composed of the eight Northern California counties parallel to — and across the Central Valley from — the Bay Area. Draw a straight line about a hundred miles east of San Francisco and you’ll hit Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, the heart of the Mother Lode. A bucolic landscape of lush meadows, roaring rivers, and towering forests canvasses a rolling topography, home to a historic and eclectic collection of mining and logging towns. Some corners, with the advent of the “super commuter,” have gained new neighbors in the form of shopping centers, box stores, and other suburban conveniences. The area’s accessibility to Silicon Valley, along with the Fresno-Yosemite area, has made it a popular prospect for full-time and weekend residents alike.