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Jeepers Jamboree

06/30/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

Taking a detour off-road (pun intended) from the usual and heading into some new territory, it’s a perfect time this month to take a look at two historical points of interest. One is an event that, while it isn’t exactly gold rush era history, is historical nonetheless. The other is the very trail upon which the aforementioned event takes place. The Jeepers Jamboree is perhaps one of the most well known off-road events of its kind. Off-road enthusiasts and newcomers alike participate in 17 miles of torturous trail that is not for the weak of heart (or mind). This year, the Jamboree will be tackling the Rubicon Trail during the last week of July for the 56th time since its inception. Here upon this trail is where history collides.

The Jamboree is a bit of a historical upstart, as it was conceived back in 1952 by a group of men from Georgetown who were seeking to increase the economy in the Georgetown Divide area. From that beginning, 53 vehicles and 155 driving enthusiasts sought to better their community while having a good time. The Jamboree has flourished into an event that has seen roughly 100,000 people and close to 35,000 vehicles over the Rubicon Trail.

The Rubicon Trail itself has a truly ancient beginning. The Maidu-Nisenan tribe and the Washoe tribe utilized the Rubicon Valley, from which the trail derives its name, as a meeting place for trading with one another. Both the Maidu-Nisenan and the Washoe occupied most of the area that the Rubicon Trail covers at varying intervals. Many similar trails crossed through the area, mostly used by the Maidu-Nisenan, and provided access and travel to other areas. Moving on in time, shortly after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, the communities that would later be named Georgetown, Coloma, and Placerville, were founded. The area became flooded with prospectors, trappers, and all manner of folks seeking a grab of land. Rubicon Springs was discovered by these folk in the 1850s, and by 1859 regular foot, horse and wagon traffic passed through the area. From the 1860s onward, both the springs and the valley saw the coming and going of various entrepreneurs, each seeking their own means of livelihood by making money off the land, and those who would pay to come and see it. From the 1880s and into the 1940s the Rubicon Trail was used to move livestock through the Sierras to the western shore of Lake Tahoe for summer grazing, while later residents of the area used it for hunting and fishing. History is not without its sense of irony it seems as fishing and hunting were the same activities that the Maidu had done in the area countless years before the incursion of settlers. Today, the Rubicon Trail is traveled for the Jeepers Jamboree and various other events, and the Rubicon Valley still receives visitors, though the trappers, prospectors and indigenous people have long since left. So it is that these two particular histories have converged with one another, much like the meeting and joining of two trails.

The 56th Annual Jeepers Jamboree is set for July 24-27. To register for the event or for more information, visit <a href="http://www.jeepersjamboree.com" target="_blank">jeepersjamboree.com</a>.

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