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Presidents, Robber Barons and Highwaymen

Murphys Historic Gold Rush Hotel photoIn the Gold Rush of 1849, two Irishmen, the Murphy brothers staked a claim and established a diggings near the Stanislaus River in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the diggings came to be a town named after them, Murphys, California. Located on Highway 4 from Stockton in Calveras County, a few miles from Sonora and Columbia (see Columbia) to the south and near Angels Camp on the 49er Highway (famed for Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog). On the way to Calaveras Big Trees Seqouias and home to underground caverns (see Moaning Cavern), Murphy’s became a popular stopover for travelers in the Motherlode gold country and a hotel was built in 1856, originally the Sperry & Perry Hotel. It went under many names over time, but eventually became known as the Murphys Hotel.

Historic Hotel Pres. U.S. Grant slept here room photo Over 150 years, the Murphys Hotel has had a host of illustrious guests, including a president, famous authors, a “robber baron” industrialist or two, and probably one stage coach highway man. Perhaps unique among gold rush hotels the rooms are named after guests who stayed in them. The Ulysses .S. Grant room still has the actually bed the former Civil War general turned president slept in. He may be buried in his tomb in New York but he slept in Murphys. Other rooms are named JP Morgan, John Jacob Astor, Samuel Pillsbury, Horatio Alger, Mark Twain, Black Bart and many more. (See also Hotel Jeffery). The John Jacob Astor Room has a main street balcony one can emagine the banking magnate puffing his cigar watching the wagons pass where now cars sometimes crawl during popular event weekends.

Murphys California hotel balcony view photoThe Hotel’s bar, the Miners Saloon with its iron window shutters is still reminiscent of the gold rush pioneer days when panners from the diggings would come to tip a drink and spill gold dust on the floor. Across the street the Murphy’s Museum will take you back even closer to the early days and Murphy’s main street is loaded with eclectic art galleries with works of local artists, some unknown and some historically significant like Charles Surendorf who lived in nearby Columbia, known for his depiction of the California cannery period and gold rush country images.

Wine Tasting and Tours

Murphys has become the center of the Calaveras wine growing region with 18 wineries and tasting rooms in town and the surrounding hills (see Ironstone Winery). Popular local wine events through the year are the Presidents Holiday Wine Weekend in February, Calaveras Passport Fathers Day Weekened in June, the Calaveras Grape Stomp in October, and the Wines of the World tasting group every month.

Art and Irish Days

Irish Vineyards Murphys green wine photoCelebrating the Irish heritage of its namesakes Murphys Irish Days on the 17th of March weekend is an all day family entertainment in Murphys, featuring many of the Calaveras wines varieties from the surrounding vineyards and local beers, Irish Tenors and art walks. And get yourself a special green wine from the Irish Vineyards winery on Highway 4. © Bargain Travel West

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Murphys Hotel

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