Jackass Hill

About a mile west of Tuttletown along Hwy 49, Jackass Hill Road branches sharply off and up from the main highway. A mile farther up this road is the center of what was once a thriving mining camp, known as Jackass Hill.

The hill received its name from the numerous jackasses whose pack trains stopped here overnight on their way to and from various points in the mines. As many as two hundred of the beasts are said to have been picketed here at the same time, making their presence known by their incessant braying, which could be heard for miles in all directions.

The camp achieved its measure of notoriety during 1851 and 1852, when hundreds of miners rushed to the newly discovered diggings. The gold here was coarse and plentiful, often appearing in "pockets" that could make a miner rich in a matter of hours. Some claims of one hundred square feet are said to have yielded as much as $10,000 to their fortunate owners. The mines played out quickly; however, and soon most of the population had left, except for a rugged few who continued prospecting the area, occasionally turning up a small pocket of gold.

Jackass Hill is located one mile above Hwy 49, via the steep Jackass Hill Road.

Mark Twain Cabin replica

The Mark Twain Cabin is located at the top of the hill. Actually, the cabin belonged to the Gillis brothers, William and James, and a mining partner by the name of Dick Stoker. A cat by the name of Tom Quartz may have also shared the cabin. Twain spent three months here, from December 4 of 1864 to March of 1865, as their guest, mining, visiting the neighboring towns, and sitting around the old fireplace swapping tales with the Gillis brothers, Stoker, and visiting neighbors. It was during this stay that Twain heard the story of the jumping frog while at a saloon in nearby Angels Camp. Making notes and sketches of the story in this cabin, he later wrote a short story about a jumping frog which brought him world-wide fame.

The present structure is a replica of the Gillis cabin which was destroyed by fire. It was supposedly rebuilt in 1922 under the supervision of Bill Gillis who led the builders to the original cabin site where they recovered portions of the foundation. He then described how the original cabin had looked and the replica was built. The old fieldstone fireplace is said to be the original one which once warmed the boys on those chilly winter evenings.