Auburn is the quintessential California city. Its history reflects the history of the state itself from its early beginnings as a Native American village of the Nisenan band of the Maidu tribe to the tent city of miners camped along Auburn Ravine during the Gold Rush of 1849 and from its role in building the Transcontinental Railroad to the vibrant city that offers its residents all the modern conveniences of 21st century America while jealously guarding its small town reputation.
While the Gold Rush brought many to the area in search of instant wealth and untold riches, others came with the dream of building a more permanent community that would eventually become the Gateway to the Sierra and the economic and cultural hub of a fast growing region. It was those early entrepreneurs who built businesses and participated in the civic life of Auburn always with the idea of making the city a better place to live and work.
In 1906 those visionaries established the Auburn Chamber of Commerce to, in the words of their charter, “have a central body, always organized and always ready to take up any proposition for the public good.” With those simple but direct words to guide them they set about their task. From 1906 through the 1940s the main job was taking a small mining and railroad town and transforming it into a modern city. Basic infrastructure was needed so the Chamber supported the building of permanent streets, helped pass bonds for sewers, formed committees to assist the city government in building a City Hall and firehouse, and helped the city raise funds for the present day Auburn Municipal Airport.
But building the infrastructure needs for a growing city only tells part of the story because a city is more than just roads and buildings. A city is most importantly its people. And the one question that people ask themselves when they chose a place to settle down is, “What is the quality of life there?”
In Auburn’s case the answer is self evident from the moment you set foot on her historic streets, shop in her many retail venues, buy a home in one of her quaint home communities, visit her art and antique galleries, eat in her various restaurants with food for all tastes, or experience the many natural wonders of the area.
Whether you can trace your roots back to the Gold Rush or you just moved here last week from the Bay Area or beyond, Auburn will instantly feel like your hometown.
With respect for the past and with a keen eye focused on the future, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce will continue to do its part in making Auburn the place whose citizens will be proud to say, “I’m from Auburn, California!”
About twelve miles "as the crow flies" from Auburn is a small town on the South Fork of the American River called Coloma. It was there on January 24, 1848 that gold was discovered setting in motion the California Gold Rush which would change California forever. It was also responsible for the establishment of a small mining settlement that eventually became the City of Auburn
There are many historic areas to visit in and around Auburn because it was once and still is the “crossroads of the Gold Country”. It is where the old mining trail which is now Highway 49 crosses the old right of way of the Transcontinental Railroad that Interstate 80 now follows.
Take a walk around Old Town or Downtown and you will instantly be transformed to another century and a time long past. If you close your eyes you can almost see the streets crowded with miners and merchants, wagons laden with goods headed for the mines and newcomers getting supplies to go strike it rich. Listen carefully and you can hear the sounds of hammers and saws building a city where nothing had existed before and the shouts of those celebrating their newfound fortunes. These are the sights and sounds one might have heard 150 years ago and if you let your imagination go it will take you back there.
But there is so much more. Auburn is the endurance Capital of the World that annually hosts one of most prestigious endurance rides on the planet. It is the Western States Trail Ride popularly known as the Tevis Cup Ride. The ride follows a hundred mile course from Tahoe to Auburn that is grueling for both horse and rider and has participants from around the world. Auburn also hosts endurance events in mountain biking, running and triathlons.
Or maybe you just want to take a leisurely drive in the Gold Country turning your car onto Highway 49 and heading to the nearby historic towns of Grass Valley or Nevada City. Maybe it’s taking the family to Coloma for a living history lesson at Gold Discovery Park.
And when your day is done, come back to Auburn and rest at one of the six hotels or one of the local bed and breakfast inns before you go out that evening to dine at one of Auburn’s many eclectic restaurants. And you might want to cap the night listening to music at one of many venues.
When you leave Auburn to return home it is almost guaranteed that you will think of something you missed and will want to come again. Because there is so much to see and do you can’t do everything in one trip. So come back when you can and experience again the foothills hospitality of Auburn.