“The Mark Twain Wild West Fest started out years ago as ‘Gold Rush Day’ honoring special milestones in Angels Camp history,” says Anne Forrest, chairman of the Angels Camp Commemorative Committee. “In 2015, we planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mark Twain’s time in Angels Camp and the Mother Lode, but had to cancel the event because of the Butte Wildfire that devastated a good portion of the county.”
Continuing Anne explains, “As we began to plan for 2016, we realized that not only did Mark Twain have a lasting influence on Angels Camp, but Angels Camp had a significant impact on Samuel Clemens, aka, Mark Twain. His tale, ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,’ which he heard at the bar of the Angels Hotel, was his first work to gain worldwide fame. Angels Camp is truly the place where Mark Twain found his voice.”
The Mark Twain Wild West Fest has been announced for Saturday, October 15, 2016, from 10 am to 9 pm, on Main Street in historic downtown Angels Camp. The inimitable, immersive, description-defying, high camp, and whimsical Mark Twain Wild West Fest promises to be a living interpretation and celebration of the 19th Century Wild West Gold Rush-era of the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode.
The historic Gold Rush town of Angels Camp was founded in 1848 by Henry Angell, who had arrived in Monterey, California in 1847 from Rhode Island. By early 1848, news of the discovery of gold on the American River led him to join the Carson-Robinson Expedition of prospectors in search of gold. Angell found success at a claim on the creek now known as Angels Creek. He soon realized that it would be easier to make a living supplying the miners than being one. He set-up a canvas tent trading post near the creek in what is today a parking lot at the south end of Main Street and sold clothing and miners equipment to the gold seekers pouring into the area. A working replica of Henry’s tent will be featured during the festivities.
Today, Angels Camp’s main street is a busy section of California State Route 49 named for the year when gold was discovered in the region. The Mother Lode seam of gold that attracted thousands from all over the world runs right alongside Main Street and under the Angels Camp Museum.
Today, Angels Camp is a base camp for outdoor activities and mountain sports with its proximity to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, as well as its many nearby golf courses, caverns, lakes, trails, camping areas, wineries, lodging and restaurants.