Historic hotels on Hwy. 49

By: Sue Clark, From Here to There
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When I was a Gold Country innkeeper, I enjoyed taking a few hours off to visit other towns and their hotels along Highway 49. Mokelumne Hill, where I owned the Hotel Leger, stood nestled between several hills, but on a smaller scale than those hills that formed Nevada City. I tried to make the hotel’s age important to my guests. On Friday and Saturday nights, I’d wear long dresses typical of the era. If a group booked a banquet in our theatre/ ballroom, I’d take them on a tour of the hotel, including the underground basement, where they could see our wine cellar built in the rock tunnel that led from the other tunnels in town. The hotel’s tunnel was boarded up by then but our part of it stayed cool all year, perfect for wine storage. I learned as much history as possible and tried to spin a ghostly tale about life during the late 1800s, including stories about outlaws who stopped at the hotel during their travels. When I first took over the Hotel Leger, moving from Marin County, I was shocked that a large glass of white wine, poured to the brim, was 75 cents. I soon discovered that I wasn’t going to get rich on that so I raised the cost to $1 but still poured to the very top of the glass. The women in our little town went on strike. They forbid their husbands from drinking in my saloon. I had the only drinking place in town and the fellers found all kinds of ways to sneak into the saloon so their wives wouldn’t catch them. I did a pretty good business during the boycott.