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Marvelous Murphys, California

Updated on October 17, 2014

Murphys - Queen of the Sierra

Before my husband started working there several years ago, I really didn't know much about Murphys, California. I'd taken my son to some caverns near there, and may have driven past the town, but that was about it.

When my husband's employer, Muir's Legacy, opened up a wine-tasting room there, it was time to learn more. Boy was I amazed! I couldn't believe that I'd lived so close to this wonderful little town and hadn't known about it! Murphys has just about everything you could want - history, shopping, wine-tasting, numerous caverns nearby to explore, and nature, nature, nature.

So here's to Murphys - it's not called the 'Queen of the Sierra' for nothing!

In The Beginning...

The Founding of Murphys, California

The quaint town of Murphys was founded by bothers John and Daniel Murphy. The brothers were a part of the first immigrant party to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range with wagons, arriving at Sutters fort in 1844.

The Murphys were originally merchants, but when the California Gold Rush began they turned their attention to prospecting. They began their prospecting career in the area of what is now called Vallecito, known then as "Murphys Old Diggings." In 1848 they moved to a location which was known as "Murphys New Diggings," then "Murphy's Camp," and eventually just "Murphys."

The mining in this area was very rich, with more than $20 million in gold being discovered in Murphys and the surrounding area. The Murphy brothers, however, made even more money as merchants. John Murphy left the town at the end of 1849 with almost $2 million in his pocket, never to return.

In time, Murphys also became a popular tourist destination, and its unique combination of history and nature continue to attract many visitors to this scenic town.

Murphys, California

Queen of the Sierra:
Murphys, CA

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Murphys Irish Days
Murphys Irish Days

Murphys Irish Days

Of course, a place named Murphys has GOT to pay tribute to its Irish heritage!

Every year thousands of people from around the world come to town for Murphys Irish Day. And boy, does Murphys know how to do it right! Starting the day is a pancake breakfast, followed by a parade of marching bands, classic cars, horses, community groups, and - oh yeah - bagpipers!

On Main Street you'll find booths filled with crafts, art, food and beverages. Throughout the day you'll be entertained by singers, dancers, musicians, jugglers, renaissance actors, and even pony rides for the kids.

And don't forget to buy some raffle tickets while you're there! You could win a fabulous trip for two to Ireland!

Sponsored by the Murphys Business Association, Murphys Irish Day is a fundraiser for many community projects and non-profit organizations. For more information, contact or browse through MurphysIrishDays.Org.

Mercer Caverns Angel Wings Formation
Mercer Caverns Angel Wings Formation

Mercer Caverns

Just outside Murphys is Mercer Caverns, an incredible system of caverns open to the public. Named after gold prospector Walter J. Mercer who discovered the caves around 1885 and filed a claim, these caverns are a must-see venue on your trip to Murphys.

As noted on the Mercer Caverns Official Web Site:

"It is the longest continually operating commercial caverns in the state of California. The owners have guest books signed by paying customers - dating back to September of 1885 to present - indicating that visitors were welcome at Mercer Caverns every year since its discovery.

Thousands and thousands (the first of whom descended on ropes) have enjoyed and marveled at this three million year old cave - including royalty and a president. Mercer Caverns has up-dated the stairs, walkways and lighting though always cognizant of its responsibility to present this living limestone cave in its original beauty. The management has carefully protected and preserved these ancient formations and presented this gift of nature in such a historical manner that the significance of its value makes a lasting impression upon all who visit.

The cave was originally used by a prehistoric Indian Tribe called the Yokuts as a mortuary cave. They would bring bodies to the opening and let them roll down inside. Because such a site was sacred, no one was allowed to enter. The Yokuts were hunters and when the game was gone they moved camp. Slowly over the years, the entrance filled with dirt, leaves and rocks and was completely lost until the year of 1885."

(Photo Credit: Mercer Caverns)

Murphys, California Poll
Murphys, California Poll

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Ironstone Concours d'Elegance
Ironstone Concours d'Elegance

Ironstone Concours d'Elegance

A Must Attend Event for Car Lovers

So much more than just a car show, Ironstone Vineyard's annual Concours d'Elegance should be on the calendar of all automobile afficiandos!

First held in 1993, the Ironstone Concours d'Elegance takes place the last Saturday in September on the beautiful 20-acre vineyard located just outside Murphys. The Ironstone Concours features an array of classic and antique cars, including vintage motorcycles, wooden boats, art-deco trailers and old-timey campmobiles.

The 2011 show will feature classes for Metal Bodied Station Wagons, 1946 to 1971, Steam and Electric Powered vehicles, Bentley and Rolls-Royce automobiles.

Proceeds from the event benefit youth involved in agriculture, notably 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America and the California State Fair Scholarship Fund.

Murphys Historic Hotel
Murphys Historic Hotel

Murphys Historic Hotel

Quaint and Charming

Located right in the heart of Murphys, this historic hotel has been in continuous operation since 1856. The hotel is a registered National Historic Landmark and has hosted such notable historic figures as Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Susan B. Anthony, JP Morgan, John Wayne, Sunny Ficus, and Charles Bolton, a.k.a. Black Bart the "Gentleman Bandit." You can even check out historic guest registers to prive it!

This beautiful hotel provides a full service dining room and saloon seven days a week! From the hotel you are in easy walking distance of all the goodies that Murphys has to offer, including 17 wine tasting rooms, art galleries, restaurants and shops. Other nearby attractions include the Calaveras Big Trees, Moaning and Mercer Caverns and activities such as golf, skiing, river rafting, cycling, and biking!

And yes, they even have a ghost!

Learn More About Murphys - Check Out These Videos!

Have You Been to Murphys? - Share Your Thoughts With Us!

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    • LoriBeninger profile image


      5 years ago

      My husband loves wine tasting there (although I can't remember the names of the wineries because I don't drink - sorry). It's a pretty little town. Love that the old jail has been turned into a tasting room (again, can't remember the winery) -- I read about two "residents" of that old jail in a book by a man who had grown up in Murphy's - "Black Sun of the MIwok." Interesting, but depressing book. Thanks for the reminder about this foothills jewel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'd never even heard of Murphys until reading this, but it looks like a great place


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