The gold country of California is littered with history, ghost towns and gold dust. Colorful names dot the landscape, from Old Hangtown to Fiddletown, and they say it all. They really did hang ’em high in Placerville (Old Hangtown), and fiddlers fiddled in Fiddletown. Head to the country and explore along the way as Fiddletown awaits your arrival.
From Sacramento, take U.S. 50 east and Jackson Road (16) toward Plymouth. Go through Plymouth and take Fiddletown Road to Fiddletown. From the El Dorado Hills area, take Latrobe Road to Fiddletown Road, and follow the road signs to Fiddletown. From El Dorado County, take Highway 49 to Fiddletown Road, and follow the signs to Fiddletown. It’s about an hour drive from these areas.
Stops Along the Way
Plymouth bills itself as the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Established in 1871, the city boasts some original buildings from the gold rush days. This small town is perfect for stretching your legs on a sidewalk tour. The Empire Store is one of the most beautiful original buildings in town. Additionally, Plymouth is surrounded by 37 wineries with overflowing tasting rooms that’ll have any wine enthusiast mulling over flavors for hours.
12300 Steiner Road
Plymouth, CA 95669
www.shenandoahvineyards.comEstablished in 1977 by the Sobon family, Shenandoah Vineyards is a fine example of what you may find in the wine country around Plymouth. The grapes planted here were chosen from varieties that flourish in the soils of the Sierra Foothills, all grown organically. The Sobon family strives to produce the finest wines possible. Its award-wining wines cover a diverse range of varietals that are expertly turned into wine and bottled on the premises. The tasting room also features a professional art gallery.
Amador Flower Farm
22001 Shenandoah School Road
Plymouth, CA 95669
www.amadorflowerfarm.comThe farm is in full bloom. Close to 1,000 daylilly varieties await here. The farm has been growing daylillies since 1994, with 14 acres of demonstration gardens designated as “American Hemerocallis Society” display gardens. Its on-site nursery stocks a variety of seeds, tools and gardening gear along with hundreds of varieties of new and unusual plants. Pick up snacks in the gift shop, or bring a picnic to enjoy the shade under 300-year-old oak trees. Picnic tables are sited next to a pond, where you will be serenaded by the resident ducks and frogs.
Gold Country Cafe
17830 Highway 49
Plymouth, CA 95669
(209) 245-6218For a quick bite in a relaxed setting, this is the spot. The menu is American cafe fare all day long. No reservations needed, just a hearty appetite or a need for a good cup of coffee and a goody to go with it. Fans of this cafe claim it has the best burgers on the planet. For more than 20 years, this cozy and friendly eatery has seen to the needs of locals, tourists and those on the road. Its convenient location right on Highway 49 makes it a solid place to fuel up on the way to Fiddletown. Order yours to go, and enjoy it while wandering around Fiddletown.
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Chew Kee Store and Museum
Fiddletown, CA 95625
www.fiddletown.infoIn 1855, this rammed earth store was a Chinese herb shop, catering to the needs of the Chinese who lived and sought gold in Fiddletown. In 1880, the store was taken over by a man known only as Chew Kee. At this time, it was a residence and a small grocery store, again catering to the Chinese citizens of Fiddletown, who were now working for the railroad and timber companies. Today, it houses a fine museum filled with authentic, everyday items that were in use throughout the town’s history.
13211 Jackson Road
Sloughhouse, CA 95683
www.davisranchproduce.comDavis Ranch is a working farm and roadside produce stand right on the way to Fiddletown. Known for its famous Sloughhouse sweet corn, it’s worth a stop to pick up fresh produce, locally grown and sold. A very interesting mix of gourds are available along with the corn and other farm produce. Fill your bag with summer squash, honeydew melons, peas, beans and beets seasonally.
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Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. He retired from teaching after 36 years in 2010. He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.