Ghost Town Explorer
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BIG OAK FLAT CALIFORNIA
A Historic Town Up On The Hill

Occcupied Historic Town
Tuolumne County
Circa1850's to Present

Big Oak Flat was originally known as Savage Diggins, named after James Savage the Prospecting Soldier who is known as being the first white man to find his way in to Yosemite Valley, which he did while tracking a group of Native Americans. The Diggins was later renamed Big Oak Flat after a 12 foot diameter Oak Tree that once stood proudly in the middle of the camp. The tree was later killed by prospectors who had dug around and under its roots. An estimated $28 million in gold was extracted from the diggins and hard rock mines that later operated through World War I.

Big Oak Flat was also an important stop for stage and freighters operating between towns and camps located on the western and eastern side of the Sierras. Located just below Big Oak Flat was the once treacherous pass of "Priest grade", a very steep and dangerous piece of terrain connecting Big Oak Flat with the west. Travelers of yesteryear had to walk the entire distance of Moccasin Hill because it was entirely too difficult for the teams to pull any stage or freight wagons up or down the hills grade.

At the top of the grade tired travelers came upon the Priest Hotel. The hotel was known by freighters and stage operators as Priest Station, which was founded in 1855 and later renamed Big Oak Station. Although completely renovated over the years, the landmark building now operates as a bed and breakfast and sports an awesome view of Lake Don Pedro and the valley below. A few old buildings still remain. Some occupied, many left empty.

Ghost Town Explorer
IOOF Hall Building built in 1853


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