On December 4, 1864, Samuel Langhorne Clemens—better known today as Mark Twain—arrived at this small cabin on Jackass Hill Road near Angels Camp, California, to stay with local miners Jim and Steve Gillis. At the age of 30, he had already been first a riverboat pilot and then a miner himself, and having failed at the latter profession he had decided to try his hand at journalism.
While staying at the Gillis brothers’ cabin, one day Clemens went to a saloon in Angels Camp where he heard a story about a jumping frog. Clemens took notes, wrote the story down in his own style and published it as “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” under the name Mark Twain, thus beginning in earnest his career as a writer.
The cabin that stands on the site today is a replica, built in 1922, but the fireplace and chimney are original. As you look through the open doorway it is easy to imagine young Sam Clemens writing his story by the fireplace.
Know Before You Go
From the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 4 in downtown Angels Camp, drive south on Highway 49 for 7.8 miles (12.5 km). A stone marker will be on the right, and just past that on the left is the turnoff to Jackass Hill Road. The cabin is 0.75 miles (1.2 km) from the highway.