This sprawling town of 2,115 on Highway 49 in Calaveras County was named after San Andrés, the patron saint of Spain. Mexicans first discovered gold here, and by the early 1850s between a thousand and 1,500 miners were working the gullies and washes. In 1854, extensive placer deposits were discovered 150 below the surface of the earth, and the place boomed. Lack of water was a problem, but the Table Mountain Water Company was formed to bring water from 50 miles away. Today most of these old ditches are still in use and maintained by PG&E.

The perhaps fictitious bandit Joaquin Murieta is said to have frequented the region. And the poetic and always polite highwayman known as Black Bart wsa jailed and tried in the courthouse that is now a museum before he was taken to San Quentin Prison.

Today San Andreas has a modern feel due to expanding population and highway realignments. A few Gold Rush buildings, however, remain on Main Street: the stone Fricot Building, an I.O.O.F. hall and an old courthouse, which also houses part of the Calaveras County Museum and Archives. The museum is open daily except for major holidays.

The California Caverns, discovered by a prospector in 1849 (or 1850 according to some sources), are located 12 miles east of San Andreas off Mountain Ranch Road. The caves were opened to the public in 1850. Cave explorers from the 1850s left their signatures on the walls. Guided tours of the extensive caverns are offered daily. Families will enjoy the "Trail of Lights" tour, lasting about 80 minutes, while the more adventurous might want to try the "Wild Cave" expedition.

A winding back road takes visitors on an alternate route from Highway 49 between Altaville and San Andreas. Follow Dogtown Road, which turns into Calaveritas Road, through the sites of such towns as Dogtown, Calaveritas, Scratch Gulch and Brandy Flat. All the towns are gone except for Calaveritas, where only a few buildings remain.

Below, you'll find a couple of views of the tiny oldtown of San Andreas. Compact buildings crowd the one-way Main Street.
The magnificent Thorn Mansion is located a few blocks southeast of the San Andreas oldtown. It has been remodeled since this photo was made.
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