Sonora, California
City of Sonora
The county courthouse.
The county courthouse.
Location in Tuolumne County and the state of California
Location in Tuolumne County and the state of California
Sonora, California is located in the United States
Sonora, California
Sonora, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°59′4″N 120°22′54″W / 37.98444°N 120.38167°W / 37.98444; -120.38167Coordinates: 37°59′4″N 120°22′54″W / 37.98444°N 120.38167°W / 37.98444; -120.38167
CountryUnited States
StateCalifornia
CountyTuolumne
IncorporatedFebruary 15, 1850[1]
Government
 • MayorMark Plummer
 • City AdministratorMelissa Eads
Area
 • Total3.18 sq mi (8.23 km2)
 • Land3.16 sq mi (8.19 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.04 km2)  0.45%
Elevation1,796 ft (898 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total5,226
 • Density1,600/sq mi (630/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
95370, 95373
Area code209
FIPS code06-72674
GNIS feature IDs1659815, 2411930
Websitewww.sonoraca.com

Sonora is the county seat of Tuolumne County, California. Founded during the California Gold Rush by Mexican miners from Sonora (after which the city is named), the city population was 5,226 during the 2020 Census, an increase of 221 from the 4,903 counted during the 2010 Census.[4]

Sonora is the only incorporated community in Tuolumne County.

History

Teresa Salas, a Californio socialite, was an important figure in early Sonora society.
Teresa Salas, a Californio socialite, was an important figure in early Sonora society.

Sonora was founded by Mexican miners during the California Gold Rush. Named after their home state of Sonora, Mexico, it was once a booming center of industry and trade in California's Mother Lode. Most of the gold that was removable with traditional mining techniques was quickly extracted, leaving miners to use more complex and expensive mining techniques to reach deep pockets of quartz and gold. Sonora as well as other mining towns of the era experienced economic hardship when the value of gold decreased. As "gold fever" died down, Sonora's size and population steadily decreased over the years.[5] In c. 1851, the Sonora Hebrew Cemetery was formed by the Hebrew Benevolent Society and is mostly the graves of European-born Jews who emigrated to Gold Country.[6][7]

As detailed in the 2005 memoir of novelist David Carkeet, Campus Sexpot, Sonora was fictionalized as "Wattsville", the setting of Dale Koby's cult/underground classic (also titled Campus Sexpot).[8] The sequel, From Roundheel To Revolutionary by Jeff Daiell, also takes place primarily in "Wattsville"/Sonora.

A local museum preserves the town's Gold Rush legacy.[which?]

Geography

California State Highway 49 along North Washington Street
California State Highway 49 along North Washington Street

Sonora is located at 37°59′04″N 120°22′54″W / 37.984361°N 120.381767°W / 37.984361; -120.381767,[9] around the intersection of California State Highways 49 and 108 The altitude is 1,825 feet (556 m). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2), 99.55% of it land and 0.45% of it water.

Climate

Sonora has cool, wet winters and hot, mostly dry summers. Average January temperatures are a maximum of 54.5 °F (12.5 °C) and a minimum of 33.5 °F (0.8 °C). Average July temperatures are a maximum of 101.6 °F (38.7 °C) and a minimum of 58.8 °F (14.9 °C). There are an average of 95.5 days annually with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 52.2 days annually with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature was 113 °F (45 °C) on June 22, 1961, and July 15, 1972. The record low temperature was 8 °F (−13 °C) on December 9, 1972.

Average annual rainfall is 32.07 inches (815 mm), almost all from November through April, although there are occasionally afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the summer months, which drift down from the Sierra Nevada. There are an average of 60 days annually with measurable precipitation. The wettest “rain year” has been from July 1994 to June 1995 with 56.40 inches (1,432.6 mm) and the driest from July 1975 to June 1976 with 15.26 inches (387.6 mm).[10] The most rainfall in one month was 21.69 inches (551 mm) in December 1955, including 7.10 inches (180.3 mm) on December 27, the record 24-hour rainfall. Average annual snowfall is only 4.7 inches (0.12 m). The most snowfall in one month was 30.5 inches (0.77 m) in January 1933.[11] The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is Csa (hot-summer Mediterranean climate).[12]

Climate data for Sonora, California, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1906–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 75
(24)
78
(26)
84
(29)
92
(33)
103
(39)
113
(45)
113
(45)
110
(43)
108
(42)
100
(38)
89
(32)
81
(27)
113
(45)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 68.4
(20.2)
70.4
(21.3)
75.5
(24.2)
82.5
(28.1)
91.6
(33.1)
99.3
(37.4)
102.7
(39.3)
101.8
(38.8)
98.1
(36.7)
89.6
(32.0)
77.5
(25.3)
68.2
(20.1)
104.0
(40.0)
Average high °F (°C) 55.7
(13.2)
58.2
(14.6)
62.1
(16.7)
66.7
(19.3)
75.6
(24.2)
85.3
(29.6)
92.8
(33.8)
91.9
(33.3)
86.7
(30.4)
76.2
(24.6)
63.2
(17.3)
55.1
(12.8)
72.5
(22.5)
Daily mean °F (°C) 44.3
(6.8)
46.2
(7.9)
49.5
(9.7)
53.2
(11.8)
60.6
(15.9)
68.0
(20.0)
74.8
(23.8)
73.7
(23.2)
68.8
(20.4)
59.6
(15.3)
49.8
(9.9)
43.8
(6.6)
57.7
(14.3)
Average low °F (°C) 32.8
(0.4)
34.2
(1.2)
37.0
(2.8)
39.7
(4.3)
45.5
(7.5)
50.8
(10.4)
56.8
(13.8)
55.5
(13.1)
50.8
(10.4)
43.0
(6.1)
36.4
(2.4)
32.4
(0.2)
42.9
(6.1)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 23.9
(−4.5)
25.7
(−3.5)
28.3
(−2.1)
30.7
(−0.7)
36.1
(2.3)
41.5
(5.3)
49.8
(9.9)
49.0
(9.4)
42.4
(5.8)
34.4
(1.3)
27.6
(−2.4)
23.6
(−4.7)
21.5
(−5.8)
Record low °F (°C) 13
(−11)
15
(−9)
20
(−7)
24
(−4)
24
(−4)
34
(1)
40
(4)
40
(4)
35
(2)
25
(−4)
21
(−6)
8
(−13)
8
(−13)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.32
(161)
5.50
(140)
5.37
(136)
3.03
(77)
1.54
(39)
0.34
(8.6)
0.03
(0.76)
0.07
(1.8)
0.20
(5.1)
1.64
(42)
3.24
(82)
5.51
(140)
32.79
(833)
Average precipitation days 11.2 9.7 9.7 6.2 4.0 1.4 0.2 0.5 0.9 3.5 7.3 9.9 64.5
Source: NOAA[13]

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
18601,960
18701,322−32.6%
18801,49212.9%
18901,441−3.4%
19001,92233.4%
19102,0295.6%
19201,684−17.0%
19302,27835.3%
19402,257−0.9%
19502,4488.5%
19602,72511.3%
19703,10013.8%
19803,2474.7%
19904,15327.9%
20004,4236.5%
20104,6104.2%
20205,0038.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

2010

Downtown Sonora during the winter
Downtown Sonora during the winter

At the 2010 census Sonora had a population of 4,903. The population density was 1,593.0 inhabitants per square mile (615.1/km2). The racial makeup of Sonora was 4,402 (89.8%) White, 24 (0.5%) African American, 95 (1.9%) Native American, 79 (1.6%) Asian, 12 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 84 (1.7%) from other races, and 207 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 542 people (11.1%).[15]

The census reported that 4,613 people (94.1% of the population) lived in households, 85 (1.7%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 205 (4.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 2,199 households, 562 (25.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 689 (31.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 308 (14.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 116 (5.3%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 192 (8.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 12 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 881 households (40.1%) were one person and 312 (14.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.10. There were 1,113 families (50.6% of households); the average family size was 2.77.

The age distribution was 975 people (19.9%) under the age of 18, 526 people (10.7%) aged 18 to 24, 1,266 people (25.8%) aged 25 to 44, 1,324 people (27.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 812 people (16.6%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 39.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

There were 2,463 housing units at an average density of 800.2 per square mile, of the occupied units 898 (40.8%) were owner-occupied and 1,301 (59.2%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 4.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.6%. 1,960 people (40.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,653 people (54.1%) lived in rental housing units.

2000

St. James Episcopal Church.
St. James Episcopal Church.

At the 2000 census,[16] there were 4,423 people in 2,051 households, including 1,046 families, in the city. The population density was 1,456.2 inhabitants per square mile (562.2/km2). There were 2,197 housing units at an average density of 723.3 per square mile (279.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.4% White, 0.7% African American, 1.5% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.0% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race comprise 8.4% of the population.

There were 2,051 households, 24.0% had children under the age of 18, 33.2% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.0% were non-families. 40.3% of households were made up of individuals, and 15% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.75.

The age distribution was 20.4% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.1 males.

The median household income was $28,858 and the median family income was $39,722. Males had a median income of $40,958 versus $26,111 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,248. 16.9% of the population and 10.9% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 22.8% of those under the age of 18 and 7.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Economy and tourism

The historic Mission Revival style Sonora Inn, built 1896.
The historic Mission Revival style Sonora Inn, built 1896.

The area economy was historically based on the mining and timber industries, but now relies on tourism.[17] One of two active lumber mills in Tuolumne County was shut down in 2009, but reopened in July 2011.[18]

As the closest city to Yosemite National Park, Sonora provides services to some of Yosemite's visitors. The city also benefits from its proximity to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.

Education

The city's schools include its namesake educational institutions Sonora Union High School[19] and Sonora Elementary School,[20] as well as Dario Cassina High[21] and the Foothill Horizons Outdoor School.

Columbia Community College is part of Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) which also includes Modesto Junior College is the sole college in Tuolumne County and offers two-year degrees. Individuals wishing to attend a university must commute 50 miles to University of California, Merced or California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock.

Government and politics

Tuolumne County Courthouse.
Tuolumne County Courthouse.

Sonora uses a city council consisting of five council members, including the mayor. The city council appoints a city administrator to implement the council's policies and enforce ordinances. As of March 2020, the current mayor of Sonora is Matt Hawkins and the current city administrator is Melissa Eads.[22][23]

In the California State Legislature, Sonora is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Republican Andreas Borgeas, and in the 5th Assembly District, represented by Republican Frank Bigelow.[24]

In the United States House of Representatives, Sonora is in California's 4th congressional district, represented by Republican Tom McClintock.[25]

Culture and arts

See also: List of films shot in Sonora, California

The historic City Hotel, built in 1852.
The historic City Hotel, built in 1852.

The newspaper of record for the Sonora area is the Union Democrat.[26]

The Tuolumne County Film Commission describes Sonora as "one of the country's most versatile locations", where more than "300 film and television series" have been made.[27]

Local museums depict the Gold Rush era and historic Sonora.

The small town is home to two resident theatre companies. The community theatre Stage 3 [28] produces comedic and dramatic plays in its small space, often providing pre-show musical entertainment from local singers and groups. The professional theatre company Sierra Repertory Theatre[29] produces a variety of musicals and plays each year at two different theatre buildings, the East Sonora Theatre and the Fallon House Theatre in Columbia.

Sonora is also home to the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance.[30]

The pilot, and various scenes, of the television show, Little House on the Prairie was filmed in Sonora.[31]

Notable people

References

  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on February 21, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Sonora". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "QuickFacts - Sonora city, California". Census.gov. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  5. ^ "A Short History - City of Sonora". City of Sonora. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Ricapito, Giuseppe. "Sonora Hebrew Cemetery hosts final burial for Holocaust survivor". The Union Democrat. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  7. ^ Robert E., Levinson (1994). The Jews in the California Gold Rush. Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Landmarks, Judah L. Magnes Museum. ISBN 978-0943376622.
  8. ^ Carkeet, David (2005). Campus Sexpot: A Memoir. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820330761.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  10. ^ National Weather Service (Sacramento); NOW Data
  11. ^ "SONORA, CALIFORNIA - Climate Summary". dri.edu. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  12. ^ "Sonora, California Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  15. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Sonora city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  17. ^ "Membership benefits". Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce. 2011. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  18. ^ Nichols, Dana M (July 10, 2011). "Retooled lumber mill back in business". Dow Jones Local Media Group, Inc. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  19. ^ "Sonora Union High - School Directory Details (CA Dept of Education)". www.cde.ca.gov. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  20. ^ "Sonora Elementary - School Directory Details (CA Dept of Education)". www.cde.ca.gov. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "Dario Cassina High - School Directory Details (CA Dept of Education)". www.cde.ca.gov. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  22. ^ "Sonora's City Council - City of Sonora". City of Sonora. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  23. ^ "City Administrator - City of Sonora". City of Sonora. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  24. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  25. ^ "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  26. ^ AbDivine, The Union Democrat. "About Us". uniondemocrat.com. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  27. ^ "Home page". Tuolumne County Film Commission. Archived from the original on October 12, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  28. ^ "STAGE 3 THEATRE COMPANY". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  29. ^ "Sierra Repertory Theatre". sierrarep.org. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  30. ^ "Imagine". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  31. ^ LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Reunion | Stars in the House, Thursday, 3/18 at 8PM, retrieved March 20, 2021