Calydon, California was a quaint Victorian town situated at an elevation near 4000 feet in the upper foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California. Positioned on a slope in a verdant, densely wooded area, Calydon benefited from picturesque views in all directions. It was watered by two rivers that joined below the town and emptied into a natural lake, and being on a moderately steep incline, both rivers formed a number of often-photographed waterfalls surrounding the town.

Calydon started out as a gold camp in the early 1850s, part of the great California gold rush. During that time, nearly 10,000 people lived in the area, most of them miners. The town itself was a bustling community with four banks, eight hotels, ten general stores and twice that many saloons, along with countless dance halls and gaming establishments. Calydon was a rowdy place, especially on Saturday nights when the lucky miners would convert their gold to fluid assets in one of the saloons. The unlucky ones would come in too, to drown their sorrows and lament their ill fortune.

Ten years later, when the gold became scarce, the miners moved on in search of more prosperous gold fields. Calydon nearly became a ghost town, with a population of only about two hundred. The teeming streets and overflowing sidewalks became desolate. Shops along the main street fell into disrepair, many of them boarded up, and some buildings on the edges of the town began to be reclaimed by the forest.

It was not until the mid twentieth century that things started looking up for Calydon. At this time, the town gained relief by its inclusion in the California State Park System, and tens of thousands of dollars were designated for renovation. During the time following this, the little town blossomed. Old fashioned storefronts were repaired and painted, bringing back the town's earlier glory. Victorian style houses began to appear as more people recognized the benefits of living in a beautiful location with a relatively low cost of living. Now, the population had settled at about 1,600.

© 2008 Kelly Cheek