Gold country gala

Jamestown, Calif., July 21—The history of Jamestown and the surrounding Gold Country in the California Sierras is rich with not only gold but the character of the people who have lived there. Jamestown was one of the first sites where gold was found in the California Gold Rush. A 150-pound rock containing 75 pounds of pure gold was found in nearby Woods Creek and in 1992 several large pieces of gold were found in the Jamestown Mine, with the largest one weighing 45 pounds!

A few years later in 1998 Jamestown Harley-Davidson opened its doors to the public and Harley Owners Group #8102 was born. The chapter sponsors several runs a year and the wonderful weather and beautiful Sierra riding is a big draw to riders from all over California and the Western States. All of the chapter’s events are a chance for them to give back to the community and over the last 20 years they have been able to generate over $100,000 to local shelters and various charities around Tuolumne County where the dealership sits.

Jamestown H.O.G.’s biggest fundraiser is the annual Run to the Pines where they give away a brand new Harley every year. One thousand tickets are sold throughout the year and the proceeds beyond the cost of the bike go to the local charities. Dealer managers Allen and Karen Aldridge sell the bike at factory cost to further enhance the proceeds. This year’s bike was a brand new 2018 Electric Blue Softail Low Rider.

Ron Easton from Crystal Falls was overjoyed when his ticket was called for the grand prize which was an Electric Blue 2018 Softail Low Rider
Ron Easton from Crystal Falls was overjoyed when his ticket was called for the grand prize which was an Electric Blue 2018 Softail Low Rider

Registration was scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. but a lot of riders showed up well before then, anxious to get an early start, purchase a bike ticket and draw their first poker card. The ride packet was $25 a head and included lunch, a poker sheet and a raffle ticket for a $250 gift certificate at Jamestown Harley.

The ride went for 50-plus miles around and through many of the small towns nestled in the Sierras around Jamestown, and no were freeways involved because… there aren’t any. The first stop was new this year, Cover’s Apple Ranch in Tuolumne City. If you hadn’t eaten breakfast or wanted a snack before you left, this was as good as it gets in the Gold Country as they offer some great home cooking, not to mention delicious homemade fruit pies and pastries.

Then it was off to Diamond Jim’s Restaurant and Bar for the second stop, which was a great place to pause and take on some liquid refreshment (or steak). The next stop was in Strawberry at the Strawberry Hotel. Another 20 miles and it was apparent that I was not going to find a 45-pound gold nugget or the two of diamonds which would give me any kind of hand. But that was fine. The ride had been spectacular thus far with sunny skies and 90-degree temps.

Just as we passed the sign for our destination, Dardanelle, stating the town was just 18 more miles, we came to a lengthy and abrupt stop on Highway 108. Remember that Run to the Pines thing? Sometimes those pines fall across the road. In this case, more than one had fallen. Caltrans was on the job, however, with chainsaws in hand and tractors at the ready.

Once the road was cleared, the engines fired up and we were on our way. As we came into Dardanelle we passed the town limit sign which indicated a population of one. When’s the last time you saw a sign like that, unless it was in some horror flick?

Cover’s Apple Ranch in Tuolomne was a new stop this year
Cover’s Apple Ranch in Tuolomne was a new stop this year

The Dardanelle Resort, founded in 1918, is located on 12 acres with a restaurant, general store, rustic cabins and camping. The new owners are Jim and Laurelin Lewis and their friend, Keith Coggins. They bought the facility in May and are hoping to bring in some local interest, as well as tourist activity and winter sports. They donated the facility to the H.O.G. chapter today to help them bring in more funds. This was very generous as any free event digs into their savings but they were glad to do it. The H.O.G. members did all the setup and teardown though so that helped. I asked about the population and she said that with them and their children there were now five official residents.

A tri-tip lunch was provided and Stomp Box, a crowd-favorite blues/rock band from Sonora, provided the music again this year and, once they finished their set, raffle prizes were given out to nearly everyone. My friend Amy Lichty won the high hand in the poker run, taking home $250 cash while her husband John took home $50 for the low hand. John Cognetti from Sonora scored on the raffle and going home with the $250 gift certificate from Jamestown Harley.

Last but not least was Ron Easton from Crystal Falls in the Sonora area who won the 2018 Low Rider. He was overjoyed and kept saying, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” He bought six tickets back in February and never thought he would ever win. His only regret was that he had to wait until Tuesday to pick it up. That’s a good problem to have. 


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