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What's shaking in San Andreas? Plenty of California history

What's shaking in San Andreas? Plenty of California history
San Andreas, Calif. -- no relation to the fault -- is where the poetic outlaw Black Bart was once jailed. (Mike Morris)

San Andreas, the slow-paced town southeast of Sacramento, might share a name with the recent blockbuster "San Andreas," but don't expect any earthquakes here. Instead, you'll find a small historic district, charming Turner Park and an old courtroom and jail cell that once held "poet bandit" Black Bart. San Andreas was actually settled by gold miners from Mexico in 1848, and both the town and its first church were named after St. Andrew, or San Andrés in Spanish. The town is not related to the San Andreas fault, so it's not uncommon to see cars in town with bumper stickers reading, "San Andreas: It's not our fault." The tab: about $500 for two for the weekend ($300 for the hotel and $200 for food and admission fees).

The bed

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After exploring San Andreas, venture to nearby Angels Camp — home of Mark Twain's famous jumping frog story. This other City of Angels features several hotels, more options for dining and a larger historic Main Street. On the northern end of Angels Camp — and only about 10 miles south of San Andreas — is a Travelodge (600 N. Main St.; [209] 736-4242, http://www.travelodge.com), where an average weekend night costs $139, including breakfast. A variety of accommodations can also be found at www.gocalaveras.com.

The meal

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Country Cliffs is one of just a few places to eat in town.
Country Cliffs is one of just a few places to eat in town. (Mike Morris)

In San Andreas locals rave about the artisanal sandwiches and salads at the Pickle Patch (577 W. St. Charles St.; [209] 754-1978, http://www.picklepatchdeli.com), but it's open only on weekdays. At the other end of town, Country Cliff's (345 E. St. Charles St.; [209] 754-1365) serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. For lunch, I got fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce for $7. The restaurant is in a convenient location, has a friendly staff and a down-home style.

The find

San Andreas, the Calaveras County seat, is rich in history. The Calaveras County Historical Museum Complex (30 N. Main St.; [209] 754-1058, http://www.calaverascohistorical.com) houses various exhibits, including the jail cell in which Black Bart was held while awaiting trial. Also known as the "gentleman bandit," Black Bart never harmed drivers or passengers and left behind bits of poetry when he robbed stagecoaches. In 1883 he was sentenced to six years in prison in the upstairs courtroom at the complex, which is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors 60 and older and $1 for children 12 and younger.

The lesson learned

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Make sure to plan some time — preferably a day — to explore California Highway 4 east of Angels Camp. Don't miss the town of Murphys, where two-dozen wine-tasting rooms line Main Street, or Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where visitors can walk through two groves of giant sequoias.

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