The Mother Lode (Spanish: La Veta Madre) is an incredibly rich vein of gold stretching 120 miles from Bear Valley to Auburn. The name gradually came to encompass the entire gold-rich Sierra Nevada foothill region from Mariposa to Downieville. It is sometimes spelled Motherlode.
Mining Camps - Historical records list some 546 camps and diggings from the Gold Rush era. Today 295 have completely disappeared. A few of the remaining camps are either busy towns or sleepy little hamlets.
These mining towns are listed here from the southernmost (Mariposa) to the northernmost (Sierra City), following the official Mother Lode Highway 49, appropriately so numbered! The mines are loosely divided into southern, central, and northern by county and by town. We've added surrounding towns, hamlets, and sites to give you an idea where these less chronicled places are located. The counties covered are (from south to north) Mariposa, Tuolomne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, and Sierra.