Murphys: Queen of the Sierra. A pot 'o gold in the Gold Country. This tiny town on Highway 4 is a very popular place for tourists coming up from the San Joaquin Valley or the Bay Area. There is much to do in Murphys, whether it is shopping, dining, wine tasting or concert going. A lot of shops with interesting offerings from clothes to jewelry along with numberous resturants and cafes line the .8 mile main road. Guests of Murphys can visit the many Vineyards in the area and sample their wines. Others come during the summer for the many concerts held at Ironstone Vineyards where popular recording artists come and perform out in the open at the ampitheatre. There is the always Irish Days in March, where a 4 leaf clover magically appears and the town celebrates it's Irish Heritage come rain, snow or sunshine.
The town of Murphys is around 2000 feet in altitude, just above the fog down below in the valley and the snowline which begins 8 miles beyond, in Arnold. It is a wonderful place to escape the hot valley summers with it's cool breezes and mild climate. It is a perfect place to grow wine and that makes it a beautiful enviroment to spend lazy days and fun filled nights. Click on the link at the bottom of the page for more specific information on current events in Murphys.
History of Murphys
Before the Gold Rush, the only inhabitants in the Murphys area were four rancherias of Indians, who held annual powwows on a ridge north of Murphys where they danced and traded with visiting Indians. The Murphys Hotel, built in 1856 by James Sperry and John Perry (and named the Sperry and Perry Hotel), hosted such luminaries as Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas Lipton, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Horatio Algier. One entry, "Charles Bolton, Silver Mountain," was in reality the infamous stage robber, Black Bart. Built in 1860, the Murphys Elementary School is the oldest continuously operating elementary schoolhouse in the state.
In 1848 when John and Daniel Murphy established a trading post and gold mining operation in the area that is now their namesake. True entrepreneurs with the luck of the Irish, they were a part of the very first immigrant party (Stephens-Townsend-Murphy) to successfully bring wagons over the Sierra in 1844, paving the way for westward migration.
John and Daniel's cries were among the first heard of "GOLD!" in California. It is reported that the brothers took two million dollars in gold ore from the Murphys Diggins in one year's time, making them millionaires before the age of 25. They first started in Vallecito, which was known as "Murphys Old Diggings," before moving to another location in 1848 which became "Murphys New Diggings," "Murphy's Camp," and eventually just "Murphys."
John later became mayor of San Jose and Daniel became a cattle baron with huge spreads in Mexico, California and Nevada.
Murphys had a number of sawmills in the 1850s, sawing pine into lumber for the wooden buildings that made up the town--replacing the tents and brush houses that the miners first lived in. Much of the business area of Murphys was destroyed by fire three times: In 1859, 1874, and 1893.
Photographs courtesy of the Murphys Business Association: Murphys: Queen of the Sierra