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San Andreas and Black Bart

No, this entry is not about the video game (a little more about THAT below)!

San Andreas is an unincorporated, census-designated place in the Sierra foothills and the county seat of Calaveras County (of Mark Twain‘s “celebrated jumping frog” fame). The old mining town is located on California State Route 49 (a wonderfully scenic route) and is registered as Calfornia Historical Landmark #252.

The gold-mining camp was first settled by Mexicans in 1848 and was named after the Catholic parish of Saint Andrew. Although gold from placers ran out after a few years, gold was discovered in an underground river channel in 1853, and the discovery led to the transformation of the mining camp into a town. There was enough gold mined in San Andreas to completely rebuild the town after fires in 1858 and 1863. Gold that was mined in San Andreas contributed greatly to the Union during the American Civil War. (Copper mined in nearby Copperopolis was used in making brass for ammunition for the Union Army.) Demographics for San Andreas from the year 2000 census are presented in the Wikipedia article.

I visited San Andreas a few years ago, and I found the town to be a wonderful visit to the past. The main street of the town ascends a hill, and there is a local museum that was an unexpected treasure for a town of that size (2615 people in 2000), with photographs and implements from the past. Today, I learned that San Andreas was said to be a rendezvous point for Joaquin Murietta (much as Brushy Peak, north of Livermore). When I visited San Andreas, I learned that the local jail, with bars made of wood, was the holding facility for the “gentleman bandit” and stagecoach robber Black Bart (Charles Bolles), who held up stagecoaches on foot, by controlling the team of horses and using them for cover, while leveling a 10-gauge shotgun at the driver and guard. Black Bart had a disagreement with Wells Fargo and vowed revenge. He robbed Wells Fargo stagecoaches of their Wells Fargo shipments, but did not rob passengers on the stagecoach. Black Bart was always polite and did not use foul language. I visited the jail cell (wooden, rather than steel or iron) in which Black Bart was detained, before he was sent to San Quentin for imprisonment for 6 years. The Wikipedia article has many more details about the life of this gentleman bandit.

According to the newspaper, the Calaveras Enterprise, local merchants and businesspeople became alarmed that the public might associate the name “San Andreas” with the violent video game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” rather than with a peaceful town in the Sierra foothills. The Wikipedia article states that legal counsel for Take Two Interactive, which produces the game, explained that their client was on firm legal ground.

By all means visit San Andreas if you get a chance! Its coordinates are 38 deg 11′ 44.93″ N, 120 deg 40′ 41.11″ W.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide!



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