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
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
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.
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
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.
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.