Groveland has both the tall trees of the forest and the ambience of a former Gold Rush mining town, with history everywhere you look.
Visit the museum in downtown Groveland, and drop by for a look at the 1888 Jamestown Jail, also in downtown.
We're right on the way to Yosemite on Highway 120. It's the last town with lots of restaurants, shopping, and services. It is 26 miles from downtown Groveland to the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite.
Highway 120 is the most direct route from the San Francisco Bay Area to Yosemite, and is open all year round. (Highway 120 over Tioga Pass closes in winter.)
Stop for lunch! We have a wide variety of restaurants, from the informal PJ's Cafe with its breakfast, lunch, and pizza, to the formal Pine Mountain Lake restaurant at the golf course.
There is more pizza at Two Guys Pizza and at Pizza Factory.
Or stop for expresso at the Firefall Coffee Roasting Company, at the Mountain Sage Coffee Shop, or tea at Dori's Tea Cottage.
For dinner there is the Charlotte Bistro & Bar, the Cellar Door restaurant at the Groveland Hotel, and the Grill at Pine Mountain Lake. A little further away is Buck Meadows Restaurant and the restaurant at the Evergreen Lodge.
Play golf at the Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course.
Groveland is a popular place for visitors to Yosemite to stay overnight, with accommodations ranging from the elegant, historic Groveland Hotel to the inexpensive American Adventure Hostel, to Indian teepees and yurts. There are also bed and breakfasts, and many rental cabins are available, some near Groveland and others further along the route to Yosemite.
The area now known as Groveland was the site of gold strikes beginning in 1848 and was known as Savage's Diggings, after James Savage, an early miner and merchant, shown below.
In 1849 an incident occurred in which two Mexicans were said to have stolen some gold and were promptly hanged at an oak tree in what is now downtown Groveland. The swift justice earned the name of "Garrotte" for the town. ("Garrotte is the Mexican term for a hanging or strangulation.")
A second hanging occurred two miles southeast at a location where the remnants of that oak tree can still be seen, and that location became known as "Second Garrotte".
By 1855, gold became harder to find, and the days of using a pan or "rocker" or "long tom" were over, replaced by hydraulic mining, in which streams of water were directed at hillsides at high pressure. This required large amounts of water, and a system was built to transport water from the Tuolumne River via a 40-mile open ditch and a 2200-foot-long wooden flume (over a valley), one of the biggest water projects in the state at that time. The system was completed in 1860, but gold petered by the mid-1860s.
The Garrotes turned to cattle ranching. Big Oak Flat, a major site for gold mining, fell victim to a fire. The population of both declined.
By the late 1880s, mining technology had developed that made profitable underground hard-rock mining, in which the gold was embedded in low-grade quartz. This led to a second boom, which declined again after the turn into the twentieth century.
In 1875, the town of Garrotte changed its name to Groveland, after a town in Massachusetts.
A third boom period began in 1914, when construction began on the O'Shaughnessy Dam and a pipeline to take the water to San Francisco. This was made possible by the passage of the federal Raker Act, providing for the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley. This was the subject of a long political battle, with John Muir, an opponent of the dam, eventually losing.
The dam and pipeline required the construction of a railroad, the Hetch Hetchy Railroad, to carry construction materials, and Groveland was the site of the shops and roundhouse for the railway. The dam was completed in 1923 and construction began winding down, the end of the boom period for Groveland.
In the late 1960s, the development of the Pine Mountain Lake community began, with an earth filled dam and concrete spillway completed in 1969. The community included a golf course and airport.