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Cartoon animation hiking bear Pinecrest Lake
Tuolumne the
Bear says:
Come hike
with me at
Pinecrest Lake!
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Experience Sonora, California
Each step down Washington Street in Historic Sonora is a step rich in history. The street was an Indian trail until the Gold Rush transformed it into a mining camp, with canvas tents and colorful flags flying from the brush houses built by the Mexicans. Imagine it with throngs of miners walking down the street, gambling tables made of rough-hewn wooden planks set up in front of each establishment.

These temporary structures were eventually replaced by wooden buildings, most of which burned in the Great Sonora Fire of 1854. The town was then quickly rebuilt, largely with brick.

Many historic buildings from those times remain. The Gunn House, now a hotel, was once the office of the Sonora Herald newspaper, established in 1854. A few blocks west of Washington Street on Bradford sits what was once the county jail, now a museum, with a few jail cells still intact. A tiny park near the museum has early gold mining equipment—an arastra, a stamping machine, and a Pelton water wheel.


The City Hotel building, once an 1850s elegant hotel, remains, as does, across the street, the Sonora Inn, at the turn into the 20th century considered one of the most elegant hotels in the state.

A block west of Washington Street is the Tuolumne County Courthouse, built in 1898 of distinctive yellow pressed brick. It is still used today.

At the north end of the street is the well-known Red Church, built in 1860. Across the street is the Morgan Mansion. The Fire Museum includes a small park with a hand fire cart.

Sonora has many places to eat, from coffee houses to formal restaurants offering Mexican (of course), Chinese, Thai, pasta and Italian, and Barbecue and steak.

Informal places include sandwich shops, including bagel sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, and light fare at various coffee houses, and ice cream. One sandwich & ice cream store has a historic saloon bar and the downstairs bookstore has the look of an underground quartz mine.

There is also shopping, with gift shops and antique stores carrying many unusual items.

What's New: A sandwich and ice cream store, the Sonora Creamery, has moved from East Sonora to the south end of Washington Street in downtown Sonora.

Video of the 2012 Amgen Tour Bicycle Race (Sonora to
Clovis leg) includes shots from the Mother Lode Roundup.
Gold Rush History
In its Gold Rush heydey Sonora was the most ethnically diverse, cosmopolitan, and tolerant town in the Sierra. It was the only town with a significant number of women.

The town's existence resulted from conflicts that Mexican miners from the province of Sonora had with American miners when they tried to mine near Jamestown. The Mexican miners eventually moved a few miles up Woods Creek—where Americans thought there was no gold—and found a rich supply of the metal.

It was originally known as Sonorian Camp, and miners from Chile, Peru, Argentina, France, and other countries came as well as Mexicans. The Mexicans and South Americans, unlike the Americans, brought their women. Later women from France and elsewhere, hearing of the large population of women, came here too.

Weekends in Sonora were a wild scene, as miners from camps all around came to town for supplies and recreation. There was much gambling, drinking with the most expensive spirits, bull fights, even fights between bulls and Grizzly bears. Many costly items were on sale that miners could pay for with the gold they had recovered with only a few hours of work.

In late 1849 a town government was established with the name of Sonora, with a Town Council who were Americans but sympathetic to the foreigners. The town organization allowed the construction of a hospital, needed because large numbers of the Mexican miners were suffering from scurvy. The population was about 5,000.

In June 1850 the new California legislature's ill-conceived Foreign Miners Tax took effect, levying a $20 per month tax on all foreign miners, far beyond the ability of the average miner to pay. Overnight the population of the town decreased by four fifths. The town became dangerous, with many people attacked in their tents while sleeping or on the roads, by marauders who were thought to be Mexicans.

Sonora's town leaders hired a well-known attorney to challenge the law as unconstitutional, but this was unsuccessful. Eventually, however, the tax was repealed, then later followed by a tax at a much lower rate.

After the placer gold from the streams was mostly played out, Sonora continued as a gold-mining region because of its substantial underground "pocket" mines, in which highly concentrated gold could be found in the quartz. This was before the technology existed to extract gold from low-grade quartz and gold rock. Sonora's pocket mines and its status as the county seat and business center of the Southern Mines allowed it to survive while many other mining camps became ghost towns.

For more on the history of the town see History of Sonora and Life at Sonora 1849-52





Events in Sonora
May 20, 2016–May 22, 2016
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"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Master of comedy, Christopher Durang, takes characters and themes from Chekhov, pours them into a blender and mixes...
Details

May 22, 2016
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St. James Concert Series in Sonora. 
The Golden Bough will be performing at the "Red Church" at 3 pm. Instruments will include the violin, harp and guitar....
Details

May 25, 2016–May 29, 2016
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"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Master of comedy, Christopher Durang, takes characters and themes from Chekhov, pours them into a blender and mixes...
Details

May 26, 2016
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Brush &Cork and "Sonora Winery presents Sunset In The Vineyard". 
One of the most beautiful things about living in the Mother Lode is our ability to see the sunset over the rolling...
Details

June 1, 2016–June 5, 2016
.
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Master of comedy, Christopher Durang, takes characters and themes from Chekhov, pours them into a blender and mixes...
Details

June 3, 2016–June 5, 2016
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"Betty's Summer Vacation" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Betty is looking forward to her summer at the ocean. But Trudy, whom she knows only slightly, chatters incessantly; and...
Details

June 8, 2016–June 12, 2016
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"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Master of comedy, Christopher Durang, takes characters and themes from Chekhov, pours them into a blender and mixes...
Details

June 10, 2016–June 12, 2016
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"Betty's Summer Vacation" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Betty is looking forward to her summer at the ocean. But Trudy, whom she knows only slightly, chatters incessantly; and...
Details

June 11, 2016
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IOOF Cemetery Tours in Sonora. 
The Sonora Odd Fellows are having IOOF Cemetery Tours from 4 pm to 7 pm. on Saturday, June 11. The cemetery is one of...
Details

June 11, 2016
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2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

June 11, 2016
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9th Annual Farm & Ranch Tour. 
The Farms of Tuolumne County Farm & Ranch Tour connects area residents and visitors of all ages with local farmers to...
Details

June 17, 2016–June 19, 2016
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"Betty's Summer Vacation" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Betty is looking forward to her summer at the ocean. But Trudy, whom she knows only slightly, chatters incessantly; and...
Details

June 18, 2016
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"The Spirit of John Muir" at Sonora Opera Hall. 
Come and join the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center at the Sonora Opera Hall at 6:30 pm for a FREE evening...
Details

June 24, 2016–June 26, 2016
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"Betty's Summer Vacation" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Betty is looking forward to her summer at the ocean. But Trudy, whom she knows only slightly, chatters incessantly; and...
Details

July 8, 2016–July 10, 2016
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79th Annual Mother Lode Fair in Sonora. 
From noon to midnight enjoy the special Exhibits, Music Entertainment, Midway Carnival Rides, Motorized Sports, Junior...
Details

July 9, 2016
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2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

July 11, 2016–July 15, 2016
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TCAA's KASA Kids Camp. 
An immersive arts experience Three camps are scheduled for this year. KASA KAMPS offer students ages 7 to 12 the...
Details

July 15, 2016
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Vietnam Veterans of America Annual Golf Tournament. 
Entry Fee: $100.00 per player (includes Green Fee for 18- hole Scramble, complimentary range balls, riding cart,Tee...
Details

July 15, 2016
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Vietnam Veterans Annual Golf Tournament. 
VVA Chapter 391's Annual Fundraising Golf Tournament at Mountain Springs Golf Course. This year's Hole-in-one prize is...
Details

July 22, 2016–July 24, 2016
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"Beehive: The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a high-energy revue of...
Details

July 25, 2016–July 29, 2016
.
TCAA's KASA Kids Camp. 
An immersive arts experience Three camps are scheduled for this year. KASA KAMPS offer students ages 7 to 12 the...
Details

July 27, 2016–July 31, 2016
.
"Beehive: The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a high-energy revue of...
Details

August 3, 2016–August 7, 2016
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"Beehive: The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a high-energy revue of...
Details

August 10, 2016–August 14, 2016
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"Beehive: The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a high-energy revue of...
Details

August 13, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

August 17, 2016–August 21, 2016
.
"Beehive: The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a high-energy revue of...
Details

August 24, 2016–August 28, 2016
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"Beehive" The 60s Musical Sensation" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
Closing weekend!! Five rockin' women, sizzling hit music, costumes including poodle skirts and hair spray, create a...
Details

September 9, 2016–September 11, 2016
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"Kate" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Starring Janis Stevens as Kate Hepburn, and written by local award winning writer Rick Foster. "Actress doesn't just...
Details

September 10, 2016
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2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

September 16, 2016–September 18, 2016
.
"Kate" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
Starring Janis Stevens as Kate Hepburn, and written by local award winning writer Rick Foster. "Actress doesn't just...
Details

September 22, 2016–September 25, 2016
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"Kate" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!! Starring Janis Stevens as Kate Hepburn, and written by local award winning writer Rick Foster....
Details

September 23, 2016–September 25, 2016
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"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy modern adaptation....
Details

September 28, 2016–October 2, 2016
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"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy modern adaptation....
Details

October 5, 2016–October 9, 2016
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"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy modern adaptation....
Details

October 8, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

October 12, 2016–October 16, 2016
.
"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!! This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy...
Details

October 13, 2016–October 30, 2016
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"Dog Sees God Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
"The characters - teenage and reckless - are both genuine, sympathetic and unquestionably cruel. Growing more...
Details

October 15, 2016
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Chamber Orchestra Concert at the County Cowboy Church. 
The Fortieth year of celebrating the music of Johann Sebstaian Bach includes this Chamber Orchestra Concert featuring...
Details

October 22, 2016–October 23, 2016
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All Hallows Eve Fantasy Faire. 
The original modern themed costume Play Fantasy Festival in the Mother Lode of California 'where imagination can become...
Details

November 11, 2016–November 13, 2016
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The ITSA Film Festival in Sonora. 
Two day Film Festival at the Sonora Opera Hall, free admission. Includes submitted films, guest speakers, special...
Details

November 11, 2016–November 13, 2016
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"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 12, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

November 16, 2016–November 20, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 23, 2016–November 27, 2016
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"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 25, 2016–November 27, 2016
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42nd Annual Christmas Craft Faire in Sonora. 
This highly regarded festival features over 150 great quality craft artists, up tempo and varied music, street...
Details

November 25, 2016
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33rd Annual Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade. 
Starts at 5:30 pm promptly, rain or shine! The spirit of Christmas will fill the streets as brightly lit floats, autos,...
Details

November 25, 2016–December 18, 2016
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"Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits Vol. 1" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
In this long-running Off-Broadway hit musical revue, Broadway's greatest musical legends meet Broadway's greatest...
Details

November 30, 2016–December 4, 2016
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"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

December 7, 2016–December 11, 2016
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"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

December 10, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

December 14, 2016–December 18, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!!! In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder...
Details

December 16, 2016
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Pop Hudson Memorial Christmas Sing in Sonora. 
At 12:30 pm, the community gathers to join in Christmas Carols, led by various organizations and groups. Get the...
Details

(Events are courtesy of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau)
Live Theatre
Live theatre has been a part of Sonora since its earliest days. Sonora today has two theatre companies—Sonora Repertory Theatre and Stage 3 Theatre.