Sutter Creek California
Sutter Creek is one of the more touristy gold rush towns in the Motherlode region. It also has one of the better collections of period buildings. Sutter Creek was the third gold mining settlement founded by John Sutter after Coloma and Mormon Island. Sutter was the man who triggered the gold rush when he discovered gold in Coloma in 1848. One of the reasons why Sutter Creek has such a nice collection of historic buildings is that Sutter Creek has continued to grow since it's incorporation in 1910. I can't find specific census information for the years before 1910 because the population of Sutter Creek wasn't consistently separated from the rest of Amador county until it's incorporation. The 1870 census lists the population of "Sutter" as 1,966. This would likely have been around the time of Sutter Creek's first population peak. By 1920 (the first census after it's incorporation) it's population had shrunk to 920. Thereafter it began growing again and is now 2,501. Many gold rush towns in the area had dramatic population declines after 1870 and have never recovered. Sutter Creek had an active mining industry until the 1940s. It is also close to Jackson (4 miles) which also had active mines into the mid 20th century. Sutter Creek and Jackson have essentially grown together now with strip developments filling most of the area between the towns.
The Sutter Creek business district is interesting to walk through. Almost all of the store fronts are occupied and the town draws crowds some weekends. The Knight Foundry preservation project three blocks East of Main St. on Eureka St. is unique as far as I know. It is one of the only non-mine industrial preservation projects in the Motherlode. The Knight Foundry was a water powered iron works established in 1872 that manufactured equipment for local mines. The foundry spreads over two blocks and several buildings. Preservation efforts are on-going(I think). The site was not open when I visited in 2010 but it's possible to walk around and look in windows. The website for the Knight Foundry preservation corporation hasn't been updated since 2008 making me somewhat concerned that the efforts have stalled.
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