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Merced is located just a couple hours away from some of the most spectacular caverns you will ever see. There are a few to choose from, and each one will offer a different experience. Because they are so close, they make a wonderful day trip.


California Gold Rush
The most famous era in California history is the California Gold Rush. The towns were wild, and the laws ignored. The people, well, they weren't like the people portrayed in the movies. They traveled for months, from all over the world, they gave up everything, and risked their lives to search for gold. Merced is in the heart of the gold rush. Its towns, buildings and cemeteries are well preserved for us to experience. At least for the day you can walk the streets, and experience the lives of the most adventurous people in California history.


California Missions
The missions of California were originally built by the Spanish, when California was a territory of Spain. They were designed to bring Spain's brand of Christianity to the Native Americans of the area. The missions later became part of Mexico, then they changed hands for a brief time to the Republic of California, and then to the United States. The missions of Central California are well preserved for us to experience how they lived. Best of all they are only a short drive away.


Bear Flag Revolt / Republic of California
In 1846 John Fremont led a band of California settlers in a revolt against Mexico. Not feeling any special loyalty to their nation (Mexico), the revolution was over with less than ten fatalities. The result was an independent California, for a short time. Then the United States moved in, ending the short perod of time that California was its own country. Experience the lives of the people that California's fate forever.


Native Americans
Looked upon as savages by the different European influences (Spanish, French, Russians, British, and Americans), the Native Americans of California have a rich history. They weren't nomads, drifting across the countryside as portrayed in the movies, They lived in cities, their economic system included a class system, complete with money, manufacturing, and trade. Their scientists made advancements in medicine, and food processing. Their land management skills kept the land alive, and the resources plentiful. Experience the culture, the art, and the hardships of California's original people.


Famous Writers
In the Sierra foothills near Angels Camp, a short drive from Merced, A broke Mark Twain wrote his first stories that would make him famous. Traveling the other direction, toward the coast, John Steinbeck immortalized Monterey's Cannery Row from his home in Salinas. To see their homes, to stand where they stood, these experiences help us to understand the writers on a new level.


Railroad Era
The railroad changed America, and the world. The string of cities through the San Joaquin Valley, including Merced, are here because of the Central Pacific Railroad (the western half of the transcontinental railroad). At one time railroads dotted the countryside, moving everything from people, to lumber, to produce. Many of these trains were robbed by famous outlaws, including the famous Dalton brothers, who worked at the livery stables right here in Merced. Some of these railroads are still in service to offer you the experience of riding them through the countryside.


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