Visiting Santa Barbara

GoFundMe Proposal Documenting California's Gold Country

2020’s Best Travel Destinations and Beyond…

Project Background
The project proposal features writing and producing the original insider guide for navigating 300-miles of Highway 49’s California Gold Country mining town history. The stories include the journalistic endeavors I had begun previously in 1994, with an updated versions featuring fresh interviews and original photos as presented on the following pages. My project will be available to the public as a new edition full-color tour book: 6” x 9” with 200+ pages, on Amazon, Ingram and locally. Driving tours are featured through ten counties of California highlighting 16 circuitous driving routes and many backroad side trips. The production would increase in circulation according to funding project. Each funder receives autographed copies in early 2020.

I’m asking for monetary support applying towards all of 2019, and I’m planning an entire year to travel, organize, interview, attend events, write, prepare photographs and copy, ready for full-color printing and delivery in 2020. Printing in full-color, the cost becomes nearly four times the price of Black & White. Later, I will need help distributing hundreds of full-color touring books. I use a Filemaker program and Mac computer to keep it all flowing. Each guide will sell between $18-22.95 retail and to be determined. Traveling long distances, I will need to afford a variety of expenses, and I’ll be making my payments for my truck and trailer. My camper shell on a 1/2 ton truck, and the trailer fourteen-feet long by six-feet wide enables me to travel easily throughout the areas. Distribution may equal another cost to retail points of purchase, therefore mailings; or, trips to furnish retailers might be required at first.

Exploring California’s Gold Country
Step back to the glory days of California’s 1849 Gold Rush vibrant gilded era! Stretched over 300 miles end to end, California's Gold Country State Highway 49 leads visitors on an unforgettable path of history through dozens of pioneer settlements. Visiting today’s extensive network of historical sites and renovated mining towns, Sierra Nevada foothill communities are known for lively events and great hospitality all year round.

The Gold Country's settlement began early January 1848, a hazy Monday morning light like a prism streamed against spreading mist on the American River. A solitary migrant carpenter from New Jersey, John Marshall, began his week’s work finishing construction on John Sutter’s sawmill. The mill was not far from the 1840s pioneer settlement established at Sutter’s Fort on John Sutter’s Mexican land grant called New Helvetica. Within a single ‘Eureka’ moment, after following powerful waters downstream racing and turning the oversized saw blade, it flowed back into the river’s surging waters at the tail, and there Marshall spotted in a clear pool with two dull nuggets among glittering gold dust. This discovery meant irreversible changes to both Sutter and Marshall lives, each becoming pivotal figures in California history, rising into the annals of American history, as well as triggering the massive stampede and greatest migration in world history.

The California Gold Country is a destination with colorful mining camps settled in stunning recreational venues. Visitors may roam quaint village shoppes, restaurants and historical hotels. Each offers genuine hospitality with better than average quality. There are expert outfitters, local craftsman, writers, actors and musicians; blossoming from virtual ghost towns into active diversified communities. The Sierra Nevada foothills are known for high quality vineyards and many craft breweries are springing up. Gold Country mining towns have remained popular destinations for visitors from around the world coming to explore California's original landscapes and warm communities. The old trails lead to places called Angels Camp, Murphys, Sonora, Downieville, Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Today’s State Highway 49's earliest mining trails were scattered small communities, and a select few Gold Country town populations mushroomed to nearly 20,000 at some settlements! The instantaneous demands for property, mining claims, general sustenance and mobility eventually brought exploration for gold from mere surface streams to requiring even larger and deeper mining operations. There are towns named Columbia, Rough & Ready, You Bet, Hangtown, North San Juan and Rough & Ready ultimately producing larger amounts of gold within deep tunnels, or washing it out with giant cannons of water, implementing methods drilling into the bedrock, or hardrock mining developed by Cornish miners. The deep mines opened places in Allegheny, Forest City, Kentucky Mine, and Empire Mine, and became centers of great wealth.

Touring Legendary California Gold Country
Beginning 25 years ago, I created, designed, and published full-color quarterly tour books for 16 years. The CALIFORNIA GOLD COUNTRY GUIDE and first magazines I produced in the late 1990s have an ever increasing audience for tour books reaching an entirely new century of tourists. There’s an appeal to the majestic landscapes, deep rivers, lakes and streams, with stories helping us imagine the history of those early pioneers’ explorations. I’ve enjoyed seeing Gold Country vistas taking backroads through both forested and agricultural towns, attending local events, always under the singular presence of antique buildings and mining equipment, water flumes, narrow gauge railroads, caverns, ski areas and most interesting personalities from the area.

My investment in a trailer as a mobile office and the camper truck will need payments over 2019, and I’d need funding to buy off-grid 12v electrical appliances, a small solar hot water panel, and deep cycle batteries to run lighting and 3 computers. With a 12v controller, wiring and one 130w solar panel I can self-install, my lighting and computers will work fine. I’ll need a simple collector for rooftop hot water and outdoor shower equipment. As a resident of the California foothills, I was previously off the grid for 10 years. I became a pivotal member of the 70s “Back to the Land” and “Whole Earth” movement, living 90 miles from Lake Tahoe, and 55 miles from Sacramento.

I’ve decided crowdfunding might help develop a fan base and solve timely planning, organizing and advancing the project as a legacy of California’s Gold Country destinations. It’s a straightforward appeal for helping local travel businesses, museums, State Parks and camping, at the same time developing new original stories and photography on California, at the same time sharing present day experiences. A companion piece added to the storyboard will include video snips of people with photographs, chapters, pages and updated continuously on-line at my site: California Tour and Travel Magazine. ( )

Time Capsules
The mining towns of the Sierra Nevada foothills Gold Rush of the early 19th century flourish today with inventive and innovative new settlers. Timing is right for unveiling the latest touring information and adding in some history featuring both past and present. Stories along the way reveal the ancestry of the gold mines involving a variety of museums-like towns, mining displays, and fascinating California Gold Country regions often located in serene surroundings. During 25 years producing travel stories, I have found the best and most exceptional experiences to print reflect on California’s history. With many friends in local businesses, I know annual events and destinations and the true treasures of California’s Gold Country. I’m ready to share them in one sourcebook with many historical and original images! The new book covers many relevant destinations beginning in Sacramento, reaching Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, each with direct connections to 1849 Gold Rush sites. The entire region includes one-fifth the total area of the Golden State and encompasses ten counties.

INVENTORY Producing the Tour Book
1/ Travel trailer and camping equip.
2/ Video/still cameras
3/ 3 – Computers
4/ Solar charger/Deep Cycle Battery/Power Inverters
5/ Solar hot water, pump and tank

The Campaign
Beginning in-depth explorations and research this January, 2019, I’ll travel the Gold Country foothills on a 300-mile long journey over the full extent north to south on State Highway 49. The routes I’ll be using connecting State Highway are centrally from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite Nat’l Park. This will take me to the five important CA State Gold Rush Historic Parks, including on the American River where gold was first discovered, museums and living history events held over the next months. Then, I will arrange story interviews and book distribution with various businesses, visitor centers and professional distributors. I have contacted Columbia State Historic Gold Rush Park located at the center of it all, and talked to enthusiastic rangers who make available the information on the subject. I’ve talked to business owners and crafts people from many diversified fields, visited and camped along foothill roadways and stayed in parks photographing disappearing mining sites. I’ve experienced seasonal sports, fishing, skiing and river rafting and attended many town events. The goal finishing the book’s rough draft within 9 months with lots of photographs processed is what I’ve achieved with many other editions. By 2020, the book will become available through Amazon initially, but ordering books will also increase with promotional and in-house purchases. Please visit my Robert A. Bellezza LinkedIn site, and Amazon’s page with all my books and video. See them at: 

Travel Writing – The Necessities & Goals
In 2019, timing is perfect creating a new Gold Country tour book and revisiting my home turf to memorialize the legendary California Gold Country. This book offers tips and trips for the curious and inquisitive, uncovering many unique facts of the Gold Rush, and eventually becoming the 31st state in the Union. The region flourishes with visitors today, although it’s a lesser known travel and tourism destination – there’s nothing like the secret treasures of the Sierra Nevada. Destination travel to restored towns from the era, combining backroad explorations yield colorful stories and offer readers fascinating history while driving through a Golden Chain of mining towns, along State Highway 49. Readers witness the 1849 Gold Rush’s and see the ingenuity for mining gold ore and even one-mile deep or more. The area’s revealing Sierra Nevada foothills are perfect for taking one-day excursions, seeing quaint village towns, experiencing traditional events, and time spent enjoying many of the best recreational spots inside the Golden State.

Visiting California’s State Parks and towns within the Gold Country’s surroundings averages elevations around 2,400 ft. Its varying seasons create special imagery blending perfectly with natural radiating color. For the book, I’ll plan interviews and take commentaries directly from citizens with video, in order to document the most interesting places. I’ll plan on attending living-history museums and town events. There are many agricultural stops, sports venues, foothill winery and brewery destinations. Touring the amazing Giant Sequoias, New Melones Lake, whitewater rafting or spelunking foothill caverns in the Gold Country are also special moments to add in a tour book. Then, traveling to Yosemite Nat’l Park is a special trip of its own with favorite hikes and postcard views. The Legendary Gold Country tour book will be my seventh book, offering a completely new design and approach unlike any other on the subject.

Gold Country Events and Destinations
Delightful towns spread out along CA State Highway 49’s 300-mile north-south trek are beads on a golden necklace, and each has special branded annual events. Short loops from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe or Yosemite Nat’l Park are often single day trips for visiting living history events held in museum quality towns capturing real historic experiences. There are Gold Country events and recreational possibilities for any single individual, group or family. EXAMPLE EVENT DRIVEN PUBLICITY: January 23-25, 2019, 171st anniversary of Gold Discovery at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, on the American River marks special commemorative programs emphasizing California’s unique history. May 16-19th The Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee, Angels Camp, event made famous by Mark Twain. Nevada County Highway 49 & Highway 20: Victorian Christmas in Nevada City is a festive way to enjoy local arts and crafts during the holiday season. Many more annual events will be posted and updated.

Historically, Gold Country lands make up nearly 1/5 of the entire Golden State’s area, with roads both graveled and paved leading to hundreds of goldfield destinations scattered throughout a vast countryside of river canyons and tall forests. As the watershed region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ rivers travel to the sea, traversing the rolling foothills and canyons in the Gold Country often encounters shifts in elevations, between 900 to 7,000 feet, connecting State Highway 49 over its 300 mile length. Negotiating twists and turns, Highway 49 winds through ten counties, including Sierra, Plumas, and Nevada counties with Lake Tahoe to the northeast; and from Placer, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Madera and Merced counties reaching southeast to Yosemite Nat’l Park; then, the Central Valley and County of Sacramento due west of Highway 49.

Timing & Next Steps
Funding this project supports a dream I have had traveling on the road, allowing for spontaneous design and creative writing, printing and distribution. I have written and published 6 history-related California tour books and 60 full-color magazines on California Travel, and productions partnering with Arcadia, Ingram and Amazon. I have contacted in advance many who are excited about the book, and well as finding several specific channels of distribution. I need to help pre-publicizing the campaign, lining up meetings and attending local events to report on the important destinations along State Highway 49 throughout 2019. A publication outline will occur simultaneously on-line, and ready for print by early 2020.

Proposed Book Outline:
• A Welcome from the Governor & Introduction by an internationally recognized conservationist.

• Introduction to The Sierra Nevada and the Gold Rush: Before and After Landscape, Forest & Plant Communities; Wildlife of the Foothills; Native American History & Heritage;

• 16 main tours of the book on Gold Discovery, the 49ers, Old Sacramento and beyond. The Technology of the Gold Rush; Motoring Guide; Sierra Trails; Yosemite National Park; Lake Tahoe and the High Country

• Contemporary and archival maps, photographs & illustrations in color and black & white.

• Calendar of events insert with listings of State Parks, resorts, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, wineries, golf courses, seasonal sports, marinas, etc.

• Distribution: State Parks, National Parks, hotels, motels, B&Bs, bookstores, supermarkets, airport shops, golf pro-shops, ski resorts, travel & rental agencies, visitor centers.

Proposed Chapter Outline:

Circuitous Routes Of State Highway 49
⁃ Rainbow Seekers
⁃ Early Mining Camps
⁃ Rivers of Gold
⁃ Hidden Gold
- Time Capsules

GOLD COUNTRY DESTINATION POINTS – Northern and Southern Regions
⁃ Begin from Sacramento / Yosemite / Lake Tahoe
⁃ 49er Mining Towns and Highway 49’s Golden Chain
⁃ 300-miles of Excursions & Maps

TRIP 1 – Sacramento to El Dorado County
Sutter's Mill and the Coloma Gold Discovery Site on the American River
⁃ Marshall Gold Discovery Historic State Park, Coloma
⁃ John Marshall and John Sutter
⁃ Sutter’s Mill and the Gold Strike Heard Around The World
⁃ Expedition to El Dorado wineries

TRIP 2 – Old Town Sacramento
–The Original Sutter's Fort–
⁃ Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
⁃ Native American Museum
- The Crocker Museum

Old Sacramento State Historic Park
–The River meets the Railroad–
⁃ Old Sacramento and Waterfront Harbor
- California State Railroad Museum

–Sacramento to Folsom–
⁃ Rise of Sacramento Railroading
⁃ American River Gold Camps
⁃ Old Town Folsom

Placer, Nevada, Sierra, Plumas Counties

–Placer County and The American River–
⁃ Auburn
⁃ Colfax
⁃ Dutch Flat
⁃ Forest Hill

Nevada City and Grass Valley Getaways
–The Past is Always Present–
• Northern Gold Country Ghost Towns
• Black Sand Turns Gold
• The Post-1850’s Evolution
• How The Rich Got Richer
• Empire Mine State Historic Park

Nevada and Sierra Counties
–Touring Three Forks of the Yuba River–
⁃ Bonanza Along the Yuba Donner Scenic Byway
⁃ Nevada City's Twin Treasures of Gold & Silver Fortunes
⁃ Legendary Sierra County Colors
⁃ Yuba Donner via Old Donner Summit Pass
⁃ Bridgeport and South Fork Yuba River State Park
⁃ John Olmstead - Independence Trail
⁃ Rough & Ready
⁃ Penn Valley
⁃ Bridgeport
⁃ French Corral
⁃ North Columbia
⁃ North Bloomfield
⁃ North San Juan
⁃ Tahoe City
⁃ Truckee
⁃ Washington

⁃ Donner Memorial Campsites
⁃ Grouse Ridge
⁃ Jackson Meadows
⁃ Lake Spaulding
⁃ Englebright Reservoir

Nevada County Winter Sports
⁃ Steephollow
⁃ Big Bend
⁃ Blue Canyon

Nevada County Water Sports
⁃ Bowman Lake
⁃ Bullards Bar Reservoir
⁃ Donner Lake Piers
⁃ Englebright Reservoir
⁃ Rollins Reservoir
⁃ Scotts Flat Reservoir

⁃ South Yuba (Washington to Edwards Crossing).
⁃ South Yuba (Edwards Crossing to Purdon Crossing).
⁃ Kelcher and Golden Quartz picnic areas
⁃ So. Yuba Independence Trail
⁃ Tahoe Nat. Forest
⁃ Historical Bridgeport Bridge

Sierra and Plumas County
–Sierra Valley and the Gold Lakes Basin–
⁃ Sierra Valley
⁃ Downieville and Sierra City Getaways
⁃ Alleghany Mining Museum
⁃ Bassett’s Station
⁃ Gold Lake
⁃ Goodyears Bar
⁃ Grayeagle
⁃ Sattley
⁃ Sierra City
⁃ Sierraville
⁃ Kentucky Mine Stamp Mill & Museum
⁃ Plumas-Eureka State Historic Park
⁃ Portola Railroad Museum
⁃ Johnsville
⁃ La Porte

Amador, El Dorado & Calaveras Counties

El Dorado County via Highway 49 & US Highway 50
⁃ Placerville
⁃ Camino
⁃ Fair Play
⁃ Somerset
⁃ Gold Hill
⁃ Shingle Springs
⁃ Pilot Hill
⁃ Horseshoe Bar

Shenandoah Valley
⁃ Shenandoah Valley wineries
⁃ Plymouth
⁃ Fiddletown
⁃ Volcano

Amador County 49er Mining Towns
⁃ Drytown
⁃ Amador City
⁃ Sutter Creek
⁃ Jackson
⁃ Mokelumne Hill
⁃ Volcano
⁃ Pine Grove
⁃ Ione
⁃ Highway 88 Loop

Highway 49 to Calaveras County
⁃ Angels Camp
⁃ Arnold
⁃ Avery
⁃ Cave City
⁃ Copperopolis
⁃ Dorrington
⁃ Douglas Flat
⁃ Mokelumne Hill
⁃ Murphys
⁃ Paloma
⁃ San Andreas and Black Bart History
⁃ Vallecito
⁃ Valley Springs
⁃ West Point

Gold Country Centers of Tuolumne, Mariposa, Madera and Merced Counties to Yosemite National Park

Tuolumne County
⁃ Big Oak Flat
⁃ Chinese Camp
⁃ Sonora
⁃ Tuttletown
⁃ Don Pedro Bar
⁃ Groveland
⁃ Jamestown
⁃ Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
⁃ Columbia State Historic Park
⁃ Highway 108 Loop

Mariposa County
⁃ Mariposa
⁃ Coulterville
⁃ Mount Bullion
⁃ Hornitos
⁃ Mariposa County Courthouse
⁃ CA State Mining & Mineral Museum
⁃ Mariposa County Museum and History Center

Madera County
⁃ Oakhurst
⁃ Boot Jack
⁃ Bodie
⁃ Coarsegold
⁃ Fish Camp Restaurants: Museums:
⁃ Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Yosemite National Park Geographic Tour
⁃ Big Oak Flat
⁃ Hetch Hetchy
⁃ Tuolumne Grove
⁃ Curry Village
⁃ Ahwanhee
⁃ Wawona
⁃ Yosemite West

California Historical Timeline from 1846 leading to Gold Discovery of 1848, the Gold Rush of 1849, and California Statehood, 1850



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