Thursday, July 31, 2008

Touring The Gold Country - Mariposa, CA

California history has always been a favorite hobby of mine, and I especially enjoy visiting the areas where gold fever took root way back in 1848. The Highway 49 town of Mariposa is one such place…

We’ll begin our tour at one of the oldest buildings in town, The Schlageter Hotel. This hotel was the best in town way back in 1864:



Today, the Schlageter still stands at its appointed corner, although it no longer takes in boarders. The building now houses an assortment of gift shops and a wine tasting bar.



Next stop is the Freemont Motel which is a bit farther up the street. Also advertising Tourist Homes and Cabins with Steam Heat, the Freemont no doubt fit the bill for many of those taking the “…all year Highway to Yosemite National Park”.


The Freemont Motel front desk office became a real estate office some time back. My guess is that business isn’t so good right now, so maybe they're renting those old motel rooms out as apartments for local gold miners:


My reason for being in Mariposa centered around a family trip to the same Yosemite National park that the Freemont was touting back in its day. The entrance to Yosemite via Highway 140 includes a massive natural rock entrance just past the ranger station. Here’s what it was like back in the 1940’s:


Funny how rock never seems to age:


How was Yosemite? Was it as pretty as I’ve heard? I think so:


And speaking of Highway 140, this ambassador of the muffler trade holds court in the sleepy town of Planada. His current dominion is a roadside farming museum:


Now let’s get back to Mariposa and its environs...

Near the town of Midpines (about 5 miles East of Mariposa), the former Hyatts Rancho Motel once vied for its share of the tourist trade:


Today, the site is kind of dumpy looking and the economy-minded Muir Lodge offers rooms with little frills…


The pool was empty even though it was warm enough to warrant a filling:


At the Midpines Country Store, I stumbled upon a 70’s style telephone booth. These things used to be everywhere when I was a kid. I can remember standing by such booths while at parks or at the movies, hanging around while my brothers made calls to the folks for a pick-up.


I even found an identical twin back up the road in Mariposa. What do you bet that both were installed by the same phone crew around the same time? Seeing these brought back the days of summer and soft serve…


And where do you think the locals would find their soft serve in this mountain town? Why, at the Frost Shop of course!



Alas, the Frost Shop passed into history around 2004. However, I’m happy to report my consumption of one delicious (if a tad greasy) hamburger during a pit stop way back around the turn of the century:


A bit up the road, we pass the Mariposa Motel:


Now known as the Mariposa Lodge, business appears strong and the grounds are well kept:


Mariposa is a friendly town, and I heartily recommend a visit to anyone passing by on their way to view Yosemite’s wonders.

The locals have had a tough time lately with wildfires, not to mention a rockslide that temporarily closed 140 a couple of years back. They will appreciate your patronage and you’ll have a relaxing time besides. My family and I are heading back in mid September, and we'll once again tie up our 150 horses at the KOA in Midpines.

Next time out, we’ll tour the alpine shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe and take in the vintage collection of motels that still grace the area known as ‘Stateline’.

See you in a few weeks…

4 comments:

Namowal said...

Wow, lots of new pics.
Glad I stopped by!
I remember those clamshell phone enclosures. Funny how something that was designed to look sporty and futuristic now screams "I'm an antique!"
I like the old sign on the Mariposa lodge/motel a lot better than the new ones. The Frost Shop had a nice sporty sign too.
I haven't seen a muffler man for a long time. Glad to see their still getting work.

walterworld said...

Thanks as always for the kind comments Namowal---

Yes, those old phone booths scream antique and I was quite surpised to see them; they aren't many left I'm sure.

As for the Muffler Men, they continue to soldier on in various places doing whatever work they can find. Sadly, very few are still in the muffler trade ;)

Anyhow, I appreciate your patience and sorry for the long gap between posts.

My next post on Lake Tahoe should be a good one. Hope to see you again in a few weeks...

Take care!

Viewliner Ltd. said...

This is absolutely amazing stuff. What a great job of comparisons. I got to there after the summer. Its just to hot for me right now. Truly enjoy your blog, keep it up. Thanks.

itsnotaplace said...

some great photos of the Mariposa area... My parents live near Mariposa and we are there often. very neat to see the old photos next to the current ones.

and yes... the frost shop disappeared a few years back. Miss it... we used to go there for a treat in the evenings when we visited.