Groveland, California is just 30 minutes from the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite National Park. This picturesque mountain region was settled in 1848 by a group of gold seekers lead by miner James Savage. The area was appropriately deemed “Savage Diggings.” Within Savage Diggings was a settlement called “Big Oak Flat” (named after a 13-foot-diameter oak tree) and another settlement named “Garrote” (a more macabre name meaning “death by strangulation” in Spanish).
In 1860, the Golden Rock Ditch was built, bringing water from the nearby Tuolumne River to these towns, allowing them to continue growing in population. In 1874, the road into the Yosemite Valley was completed, the predecessor to Highway 120. It brought with it increased tourism and industry.
The population of Groveland/Big Oak Flat ebbed and flowed into the early 1900s, reflecting the booms and declines in mining. Then construction began on the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power project, which would bring fresh water to the city of San Francisco. Naturalist John Muir staunchly fought against the development of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, but he lost the battle, and the O’Shaughnessy Dam was built. Almost 100 years later, Hetch Hetchy continues to provide delicious, pure mountain water to San Francisco and to Groveland.
Today, Groveland is a favorite weekend destination for San Francisco Bay Area residents looking to escape city life. Many of the houses in Pine Mountain Lake, a gated community within Groveland, are vacation homes for these part-time visitors, their families, and friends.
Groveland’s downtown is located directly on State Highway 120, the main thoroughfare to Yosemite from the Bay Area. Upwards of one million tourists visit Groveland each year, making this the second largest of Yosemite's gateway towns.
Around The Horn Brewing Company's namesake comes from a phrase that dates back to the Gold Rush. To go "around the horn" meant to take a ship from the East Coast, down around Cape Horn at the tip of South America, up to San Francisco. This was a common journey for gold seekers (lasting an average of four to five months), as the Panama Canal was not opened until 1914. The term later became associated with baseball.
Yosemite National Park became the United States' third national park, on October 1, 1890 (Yellowstone and Sequoia are the first two parks, respectively.) But its origins as protected land go back to 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant. It's thought that this act was the predecessor to the creation of the first national parks. Thanks for that, Abe!
Groveland's first brewery was started in 1853 by a gentleman named Ferdinand Stachler. A few years later, a German immigrant named Eugene Mueller purchased the brewery from him, and it became known as the Mueller Brewery. In addition to serving the needs of the local community, the Mueller Brewery supplied beer and gin across the treacherous Sierras to the mining town of Bodie.
Groveland's original name was "Garrotte," derived from the Spanish word for "strangulation." It was changed to "Groveland" in 1875, named after the town of Groveland, Massachusetts.
According to the California Division of Mines, the placer mines of Big Oak Flat, Groveland, and the surrounding areas produced over $25,000,000 in gold during their heyday. That's over $700 billion in today's market!