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Sheep Ranch CA Area Overview

One of the very few "free-range" areas in California. There are several hundred freely roaming sheep throughout the town.

The town was once surrounded by sheep corrals, and in 1860 gold ore was discovered in the corrals where the sheep were kept at night. Soon Sheep Ranch was a bustling gold mining town. Before the turn of the century there were five flourishing gold mines and one had a ten-stamp mill. The Eagle Hotel and the Pioneer Hotel were the two prominent local establishments, and the town also supported 15 saloons. Only the Pioneer Hotel is still standing from that era.

The main mine in town was known as the Hearst mine. George Hearst, who with partners bought the mine in 1897, was the father of William Randolph Hearst. The mine operated under various company names until shut down by the government in 1942.

Much of the Clint Eastwood’ movie, “Honkytonk Man” was filmed in and around Calaveras County. Sheep Ranch was used for main street exterior scenes, as well as the Pioneer Hotel. Extras were locally hired and many of the town’s residents are seen in the movie.