Now & Then

Jacksonville was once thriving, now under water

Jacksonville was once a booming mining town on the Tuolumne River that boasted several stores, a post office, and three “luxury” hotels.

First to settle in the area around 1849 was Julian Smart, who planted orchards and gardens in the rich soil and provided the area miners with much needed fresh fruit and vegetables. However, these same miners soon drove the local produce man out of business when their taste for a crisp sweet carrot was surpassed by their hunger for shiny gold nuggets, and his beautiful garden and orchard were dug up and mined. Around 1850, Col. Alden Jackson arrived in the area, and Jacksonville was official.

The town, surrounded by rich pay dirt and mines, faded slowly after the mines shut down one by one, but held its ground through the 1960s. Many still remember local attractions such as The Fish Hook and the Klein Café’s, Dan’s pool, The Hilltop Motel, and last but absolutely not least, The Mountain River Lodge.

By 1970, the town was singing its last hurrah, and by 1971, when the New Don Pedro Dam was completed, the once thriving little town was abandoned and now lies under the lake’s waters.

Gone, but never forgotten.

— Billie Lyons, curator for the Tuolumne County Historical Society

The Union Democrat
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