In June of 1848, a mining company formed by Benjamin F. Wood of Clatsop Plains in Oregon, founded the first claim in Tuolumne County. The camp was known as Woods' Diggings and later as Woods' Crossing. It is now Jamestown and Main Street is located about a mile north where Woods Creek crosses under Highway 108 and where Mr. Wood found the first gold in Tuolumne County.
The richness of the diggings on Woods Creek became legendary. The creek was so rich that it was reported that Woods & Company extracted $200 to $300 (40 to 60 ounces) daily by simply prying nuggets from their resting spots with hunting knives. Comparing the $8 to $12 an ounce in 1848 to the price of gold today (about $300), imagine the excitement of finding that same 40 ounces today which would be worth $16,000.
One historian, Peter Justesen, wrote that in 1848, two miners of Woods' Crossing decided to purchase a bottle of brandy from town, located a quarter mile from their camp (probably Jamestown). The partner who went to fetch the brandy was advised to look along the road as he would be sure to find enough gold enroute to pay for the bottle. This, he was able to do!
The winter of 1848 was a fierce one. The camp along Woods Creek was moved higher ground because of flooding to the approximate area where the south end of Main Stree is located. Many miners suffered and perished from land scurvy due to the lack of fresh vegetables and fruits and pulmonary diseases as a result of exposure to the elements. During this harsh winter, many tales floated around San Francisco about the abundance of gold at Wood's Crossing. When spring came, hundreds of miners flocked to the area which soon became known as the Gateway to the Mother Lode. One of those who arrived was Colonel George James. He brought a wagon full of supplies and treated everyone to champagne. The people were duly impressed with the Colonel and immediately named the town in his honor (often referred to as Jimtown).