Want to combine a day of exploring old mine shafts, historical buildings and gaming at an Indian casino while driving less than an hour from Lodi?
These attractions can be found in the quaint town of Jackson in the Mother Lode country.
“I don’t know if, as a town, it’s a whole lot different from Angels Camp or Placerville,” said Judy Jebian, co-museum chairwoman for the Amador County Historical Society. “The significant thing about Jackson is its mines.”
The Jackson area is filled with old mines, the largest one being the Kennedy Gold Mine, located east of Highway 49, north of town. Named after Andrew Kennedy, an Irish immigrant, Kennedy Mine is one of the deepest gold mines in the world at 5,912 feet. It was active until 1942.
Jackson was known during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s as a rather salacious town.
“Jackson was noted for its gambling and saloons and ‘ladies of the night,’” Jebian said.
The town brothels were shut down in 1954 by Attorney General Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, father of California’s current governor, she said.
Jackson’s reputation as a Wild West town was also noted by Stephen Dutra, a desk clerk for the historical National Hotel, built in 1852. It was closed for five years due to the economy, but it reopened in August 2012.
Dutra, dressed in a formal, old-fashioned outfit befitting life decades ago, enjoys his history at the National Hotel.
“I was a bartender here 25 years ago,” he said.
So what does the Gold Rush-era hotel have to offer?
Well, you can spend the night in one of the hotel suites, where the bathroom is about as large as the bedroom. Summer rates range from $75 for a twin bed to the $250-$275 range for a king suite.
You may also eat at Stanley’s Steakhouse, which Dutra describes as “San Francisco quality.” And you’d better have a San Francisco-type pocketbook to eat there. A New York or rib-eye steak goes for $35, and a 9-ounce filet mignon goes for $45. Of course, your meal comes with your choice of gorgonzola gnocchi with red wine sauce, or mashed or baked potato with bordelaise sauce.
Dutra said it isn’t mentioned on the menu, but the beef comes with no hormones. Fruits and vegetables aren’t genetically modified either, he said.
For something not so pricey, you can try the deli, which features the renowned Peet’s Coffee.
And of course, who can pass up the Jackson Rancheria, the nearest Indian casino to Lodi? It has 47 gaming tables, nine poker tables and 1,600 slot and video machines around the clock.
Live entertainment, restaurants and bars are also available at the rancheria, and you can stay in a hotel room or RV park.