Jackson is one of the larger towns in the Motherlode region (California 1849 gold rush). It seems less exclusively touristy or suburban to me than some of the other large gold rush towns like Sonora, Sutter Creek or Grass Valley, and it has a well preserved historic district and remnants of two large mines. Jackson was founded in 1848 and had a population of 2,408 by 1870. Jackson quickly became a center of commerce and government for the surrounding area. It was originally the county seat of Calaveras County and became the county seat of Amador County when that county was formed in 1853. As a result of its regional importance, many substantial structures were built in the city- many of them are still standing. After the initial mining boom in the area ended, Jackson's population fell to 1,040 (in 1880). It has generally grown since then and now has a population of 4,651.
Gold mining continued around Jackson until the 1940s. The sprawling Kennedy mine operated until 1942. The area around it's main shaft is owned by the Kennedy Mine Foundation which has preserved the mine offices and many mine structures and offers tours. The Kennedy Tailing wheels were built in 1914 to move mine waste from the Kennedy stamp mill to impoundment ponds. The wheels are preserved in the Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park. The large standing wheel has recently been enclosed in a protective building (pictured below). The Argonaut mine also operated until 1942. It was the site of a fire that killed 47 or 48? miners in 1922. This was the worst single loss of life in any mining disaster in the Motherlode. An L.A. Times article about the disaster here. Several of the Argonaut mine's structures are still standing but are fenced off and on private property. The area around the main mine entrance has been redeveloped and is now a subdivision. Its (Argonaut mine) headframe and associated structures can be seen from a dead end street in the subdivision and also from a wayside parking area off of highway 49 where there is a historic plaque.