Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mark Twain's Cabin

Good morning. Gold Country Girl Tina blogging today. I was talking to Heidi last weekend and she mentioned that it is the 100 year anniversary of Mark Twain's death this year. She knew I had a lot of postcards of the cabin he lived in for a while in Tuttletown, California, between Sonora and Angel's Camp. So I am sharing those postcards today in honor of one of our country's most beloved writers.
This is the only postcard I have that shows the cabin in a dilapidated state before it was restored. The roof is caving in, the walls are leaning, and I doubt if there is a floor. The straw-hatted ladies appear to be having a picnic and in the center of the picnic you see a wooden table. I find the table quite interesting, because it shows up in three of my other postcards.
Here is the cabin after restoration. I have no shots of the inside, but it is probably just one large room. Notice the table under the oak tree to the right. How would you like to have an address such as "Jackass Hill"? Not very high-fallutin'.
This old gent standing at the door of the cabin is W. R. Gillis. He and his brother Jim owned the cabin and worked with Mark Twain in a mining venture that did not pay off, at least for Mr. Twain. He would earn his fortune with his pen. At the bottom of this postcard it reads "Mark Twain's partner W. R. Gillis. Mark Twain cabin near Sonora, Cal."
A postcard of the Historical Marker near the cabin. "On California State Highway 49. One mile to Mark Twain Cabin Replica, with Original Chimney and Fireplace. Here, on Jackass Hill, young Mark Twain while the guest of the Gillis Brothers in 1864-65 gathered material for his 'Jumping Frog of Calaveras' which first brought him fame, and for 'Roughing It'.
In this shot there is a large stack of wood next to the chimney. I would love to see a shot of the fireplace inside. It must be quite large.
Here the table makes an appearance again, leaning towards the chimney. There also appears to be an outhouse in back on the left.
Here is the table again. The large oak near the cabin is also very interesting in the many shots. It has been pruned and loped through the years, and large props put under some of the limbs. I wonder how big it was 140 years ago when Mark Twain lived there?
This postcard erroneously states "Mark Twain's Cabin El Dorado Co. Cal." It is actually in Tuolumne County.
This was one of my favorite places to go when I visited Tuolumne County in my teens and twenties, before Heidi moved there. There is something fascinating about these old miners' cabins. Roughing it is right!
This color postcard shows the old oak tree with it's lopped off branches, bench built around the trunk, and the large props under the branches. This card is a Union Oil Company Natural Color Scenes of the West postcard and states "Mark Twain's Cabin where the author wrote his 'Jumping Frog of Calaveras' stands on Jackass Hill just east of Angels Camp. The region is famed in fact and legend for its 75% pure gold quartz and the hardy pioneers who came with the Gold Rush. Tour the west this year with 76 gasoline."
This is a "Wesco Color Card, reproduced from Natural Color Photographs. Mark Twain's Cabin, Mother Lode Country, in California. Reproduced by Spectratone from a Kodachrome by Mike Roberts".
This card has quite a bit to say. "Mark Twain's Cabin. Jackass Hill. Mark Twain lived in this cabin for some 5 months in 1864-5 as a guest of the Gillis brothers at a time he had to flee San Francisco because of debts. Coarse gold was found on the hill and one quartz pocket produced from one to three hundred dollars a day for three years. This replica of the cabin is built around the old fireplace, undamaged when fire destroyed the original building. The hill received its name from the braying of hundreds of jackasses that paused here overnight as they packed supplies to the mines. It was here that Clemens wrote "Roughing It" and "The Sage of Jackass Hill" The hill is a short distance from highway 49 and north of Sonora and Columbia. M.P." Photo color by Merle Porter.
"Mark Twain's Cabin on Jack Ass Hill, Mother Lode Country of California Gold Rush Days. It was here that Mark Twain put together material for his first writing fame." Little did he know he would become famous for such classics as 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Innocents Abroad'.
I hope you enjoyed your armchair postcard tour of Mark Twain's Cabin on Jackass Hill.


Heidi Ann said...

That is quite a collection! Another great, informative post, Tina.

yosemite faith said...

its a windy road to get there, thats for sure. i have only been there once and it was quite some time ago. great info tina.

Jennifer D said...

Great tour!
I have a fascination for Mark Twain and his adventures in our area. I read all about his time in Virginia City and Mono Lake but I didn't know about that little cabin. I will have to go visit the next time I am on the "other side of the mountain".
That table is a very curious thing. hmmm

Anonymous said...

I didn't even know Mark Twain went to California. Thanks for posting these and the text. What does it say under the picture of the older man standing in the doorway?

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Tina, this a great post. I have been a life long admirer of Mr. Clemens. He is on a long list of truly great Americans.

One thing I have in common with Mr. Clemens, is our birthdays. November 30th. Of course we are not the same age now! LOL! Thank God.

Much appreciated, Richard.

Jill said...

I've been there-- a couple times! I could swear the first time I visited (when I was young) you could go inside. I remember a guest book on a table (THE table?! Who knows?) The last time I visited it looked like they weren't letting visitors go inside. I was kinda' bummed. Thanks for sharing all those great postcard pics!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those very informative photos.
On my visit to the cabin (October 2010) I was somewhat puzzled to discover that the cabin was now surrounded by a tall iron gate, with neighbouring shacks & abandoned cars and a mark stone built much too close to the cabin. Hence, the site having been more destroyed than restored, unfortunately.

mdfreels said...

Wonderful article. I was born in Sonora and we visited the Mark Twain Cabin several times. It's great to relive those moments in the blog.

AquarianBeachBum said...

This is my family's cabin. Steven Gillis is my grandfathers grandfather. The Gillis brothers my great uncles. I would love any information or photo's you have. Thank you! Nicole Danzik (Mulock)