A stroll down tree-lined Main Street transports visitors back to the mid-1800s with buildings bearing thick stoned walls, iron shutters, and pastoral gardens with white picket fences.
Murphys’ rich and colorful past came alive in 1848 when John and Daniel Murphy established a trading post and gold mining operation in the area that is now their namesake. True entrepreneurs with the luck of the Irish, they were a part of the very first immigrant party (Stephens-Townsend-Murphy) to successfully bring wagons over the Sierra in 1844, paving the way for westward migration.
Murphys was one of California’s richest “diggins.” During one winter, five million dollars worth of gold was taken from a four-acre placer area. Such riches attracted fortune hunters and adventure seekers from around the world – gamblers, opportunists, ladies of easy virtue, and honest men, as well as renowned outlaws – among them Joaquin Murietta and Black Bart.
Building gradually, the wild days became a thing of the past, replaced with families, gardens, ranches, and dairies. Hundreds of permanent structures were built, including an opera house, hotel, churches, and schoolhouse. As gold waned, the townspeople remained to work sawmills and stores, farms and ranches, and added their own chapters to the history of the community.
The townsfolk invite you to revisit the past while exploring the “new” upscale Murphys. Guided walking tours of the town’s abundant historic buildings, including the home of Albert Michelson, the first American Nobel Prize winner, are conducted every Saturday at 10:00 a.m., starting in front of the Old Timers Museum on Main Street.