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Fun to be found at Copperopolis

One need not travel far in the 209 to find the quaintness of The Square at Copper Valley in Copperopolis. 

The drive is scenic with breath taking views of rolling hills and countryside. 

With a population just under 4,000 the town offers a variety of things to do whether it be a couples outing, family get away or just an individual looking for some rest and relaxation.

A mining town of Calaveras County, founded in 1860, Copperopolis became not known for gold like all the other towns of Calaveras but for copper. The town of Copperopolis (originally called Copper Canyon) got its name from the copper lode discovered in 1860 that helped provide ammunitions for soldiers during the Civil War. The discovery of copper in 1860 resulted in Copperopolis cropping up out of the rolling hills. Business establishments swelled in number from 28 in 1861 to over 90 by 1865. The town’s short-lived importance ended with an 1867 fire that left the center of town smoldering in charcoal ruins. Copperopolis didn’t completely rebuild because of decreased demand for copper with the conclusion of the war, high transportation costs and an exhausted copper supply. A resurgence in copper mining occurred in the 1880s when Oakes Ames of Boston purchased the Union Mine and placed it back into production. This time, however, a smelter was built on site. Copper mining continued on and off until the 1930s.

Copperopolis is also known as the place frequented by famous stage coach robbery Charles Boles, AKA, Black Bart. While living in San Francisco he conducted the robbery of the Sonora-Milton stage at the same location on nearby Funk Hill 10 years apart. His last robbery east of Copperopolis on Nov. 3, 1883, would lead to his arrest and trial in San Andreas. Bolton spent six years in San Quentin State Prison. His whereabouts have been debated for over a century since he was released in 1888. One theory is that he lived out his dying years in Marysville under the alias of Charles Wells. 

Copper is no longer the bread and butter of Copperopolis. In 1996 real estate developer Castle & Cooke built the semi-private Saddle Creek Golf Resort and later the Town Square, a commercial development with retail and restaurant space as well as apartments. The development was sold to Copper Valley LLC in November 2018 and renamed The Square at Copper Valley.

Designed around a traditional, pedestrian-friendly town square, the brick architecture and covered walkways harken back to another era yet provide a modern retail setting.

The Gateway Hotel serves as the anchor of the square set in the center of the eateries and shops. Offering old world charm with its brick façade and statuesque columns. The hotel’s clock tower adds to the overall charm of the Square. 

From standard rooms to suites, each of the rooms offer a unique layout as well as views of the surrounding foothills. Those surrounding foothills provide numerous opportunities for outdoor fun, including hiking, skiing, biking and fishing in the nearby Lake Tulloch.  The hotel offers wine-tasting packages and is convenient to the Golf Club at Copper Valley. The Gateway also hosts Tesla charging stations as well as a pool for the guest looking to recharge and cool off. 

Be it wine tasting at the Tipsy Frog Wine Bar or grabbing a bite to eat from Griff’s Barbecue and Grill or Baldi’s Copper Valley Café, the Square offers a variety for the pickiest of diners. 

The Tipsy Frog Wine Bar carries more than 200 wines from local, regional and international wineries, with the list continually revolving. They also offer gourmet cheese plates to pair with the wines.

Griff’s Barbecue and Grill is a restaurant and full bar located in the Square with traditional barbecue cuisine including burgers, ribs and pulled pork sandwiches.

Gold Dust Pizza in the Square has a well-earned reputation for serving up some of the best pizza in the region by using fresh ingredients and keeping to the family recipes that have made it a successful eatery for more than three decades.

Baldi’s Copper Valley Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with extensive menu options for each meal. One popular option is the Cheech and Chimichonga, which is filled with bacon, sausage, ham, cheddar cheese, potatoes and three egss and topped with sausage gravy. On Saturdays and Sundays, the café has a five-pound version of the dish that is known as the Cheech and Chimichonga challenge.

Not desiring a full meal yet looking for something cool and sweet in the summer heat? Head over to Copper’s Ice Cream & Candy and enjoy handcrafted ice cream or a beverage with a sweet confection. 

It’s not just about food, beverages and the sweet tooth at the Square however. The quaint center also hosts a number of pampering stops including spas, nail salons and body treatment salons. Just the perfect stop for the visitor needing true rest and relaxation. 

If your plans include any kind of outdoor activity, then a stop at Gateway Adventure Co., in the Square is worth a stop. The store offers camping gear, bicycles, e-bikes, kayaks, rods, bait, tackle, inflatable standup paddle boards and much more. They can also help book many different outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, photography, hiking, biking, watersports, painting classes, farm to fork and ranch experiences, wine tours and winter sports.

Copperopolis may prove to be the perfect respite for those looking to sit back, relax and take in the beauty as well as the slower pace of the foothills.