Drytown, California

Coordinates: 38°26′28″N 120°51′16″W / 38.44111°N 120.85444°W / 38.44111; -120.85444
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Drytown, California
Downtown Drytown, 1866
Downtown Drytown, 1866
Location of Drytown in Amador County, California.
Location of Drytown in Amador County, California.
Drytown is located in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 38°26′28″N 120°51′16″W / 38.44111°N 120.85444°W / 38.44111; -120.85444
Country United States
State California
CountyAmador County
 • Total3.26 sq mi (8.44 km2)
 • Land3.26 sq mi (8.43 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)  0%
Elevation646 ft (197 m)
 • Total186
 • Density57.13/sq mi (22.06/km2)
ZIP Code
Area code209
GNIS feature ID1658441;[2] 2583002[3]
Reference no.31[4]

Drytown (formerly, Dry Town)[5] is a census-designated place[6] in Amador County, California. It is located 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of Plymouth on Dry Creek,[5] at an elevation of 646 feet (197 m). The population at the 2010 census was 167.[7] The town is registered as a California Historical Landmark.[4] The community is in ZIP code 95699 and area code 209. Today Drytown is home to a population of less than 200 people and about 5 antiques stores. But once before it was a well-known hotspot thanks to the gold mines with a population of 10,000 people.


Drytown is the oldest community in Amador County, and the first in which gold was discovered. It took its name from Dry Creek, which runs dry during the summer. However, it was certainly not "dry", as stories tell of there being up to 26 saloons, of which just one remains, The Drytown Club.

The gold started to peter out by 1857 and when a fire destroyed most of the town that year, most of its inhabitants packed up and moved to more successful mines elsewhere in the county. The town was only saved by the construction of State Route 49, which went through it, in 1920. See the Drytown, CA website for additional history and current information.

A U.S. Post Office opened at Drytown in 1852. In the 1960s the post office was located within the Drytown General Store operated by the Bruns family. A visit in January 2010 revealed that the general store building is now occupied by an antique shop, the Drytown Post Office is housed in an adjacent, newer building which is also an antique shop, and the Drytown general store is now in a second separate, newer building nearby.

At the time of the January 2010 visit there was a sign on the door of the post office building stating that the post office was closed in April, 2009, and efforts were being made to reopen it.

From 1959 to about 1994 — before the Mother Lode tourist boom — a summer theater company called the "Claypipers" staged comedic melodramas interspersed with "olio" (song and dance) acts to mostly standing room only audiences. Musical accompaniment for both was provided by the incomparable Dottie Rodgers on the piano at stage left. The name Claypipers was taken from the clay pipes used by miners in the deep tunnels of hard rock gold mines — not only for smoking, but also (it is rumored) to sneak nuggets out of the mines at the end of their shifts. After a wildly successful summer in adjacent Amador City, the Claypipers bought the century-old building across Highway 49 from the Drytown General Store and remodeled it into a theater with table seating, a bar, stage, wings and sophisticated (for the time) stage lighting system. The basement was converted to dressing rooms and green room, and a stairway added from there to the stage wings. The majority of the cast, crew and spectators traveled from communities around San Francisco Bay to this Mother Lode area on show days to be a part of this phenomenon. The large "Piper's Playhouse" marquee was a familiar sight to anyone traveling this part of Highway 49 during the Claypipers' tenure—now, like the sound of the boisterous crowds cheering the heroes and booing the villains, only a memory.

The Claypipers also purchased the house across Spanish Street from the theater, constructed a "dorm" addition, and used it as a base of operations on show days and work days (mostly on weekends).

Following a fire in 1985, the theater was completely re-built and a second story was added to the Piper Playhouse. The Claypipers continued performing melodramas until closing their doors for good in 1994. The house on Spanish Street was sold a few years later, and the theater was ultimately sold in 2010.

In the early 1960s, the Claypipers purchased a "fire engine" for Drytown — a well used but serviceable Red Ford 1-Ton pickup truck with built-in 400 gallon water tank and pump — and constructed a "fire station" (garage) building to house it on the west side of the 'T' intersection of Spanish St and New Chicago Road. In 1963, the 3 man volunteer Drytown Fire Department, under then-Fire Chief (and San Francisco peninsula transplant) Bob Brown, was called out three times, and saved two of the three homes involved. The third was fully engulfed in flames before the call came in, but they were able to prevent the adjacent propane tank from erupting as well as the spread of the fire to the very dry surrounding grassy fields. In January 2010, the "fire engine" was nowhere to be found, and the "fire Station' building had been fitted with man-doors and had a 'For Rent' sign on it.[5]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

The 2010 United States Census[9] reported that Drytown had a population of 167. The population density was 45.3 inhabitants per square mile (17.5/km2). The racial makeup of Drytown was 153 (92%) White, 0 African American, 0 Native American, 1 (1%) Asian, 0 Pacific Islander, 2 (1%) from other races, and 11 (7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11 persons (7%).

The Census reported that 167 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 were institutionalized.

There were 72 households, out of which 18 (25%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 40 (56%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 8 (11%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2 (3%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 4 (6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 1 (1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 17 households (24%) were made up of individuals, and 6 (8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.3. There were 50 families (69% of all households); the average family size was 2.7.

The population was spread out, with 31 people (17%) under the age of 18, 9 people (5%) aged 18 to 24, 34 people (20%) aged 25 to 44, 64 people (38%) aged 45 to 64, and 29 people (17%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 111.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.1 males.

There were 80 housing units at an average density of 21.7 per square mile (8.4/km2), of which 72 were occupied, of which 49 (68%) were owner-occupied, and 23 (32%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2%; the rental vacancy rate was 0%. 122 people (73% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 45 people (27%) lived in rental housing units.


In the state legislature, Drytown is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Democrat Angelique Ashby,[10] and the 5th Assembly District, represented by Republican Joe Patterson.[11] Federally, Drytown is in California's 4th congressional district, represented by Democrat Mike Thompson.[12]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Drytown". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  3. ^ "Drytown Census Designated Place". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Drytown". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 478. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Drytown, California
  7. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Drytown CDP, California". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  9. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Drytown CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  10. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  11. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  12. ^ "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved February 28, 2013.

http://amadorcountyhistoricalsociety.org http://www.sierrafoothillmagazine.com/drytown.html http://www.yelp.com/biz/old-well-motel-and-grill-drytown,