About halfway between Merced and Yosemite Valley, Mariposa (Spanish for ‘butterfly’) is the largest and most interesting town near Yosemite National Park. Established as a mining and railroad town during the gold rush, it has the oldest courthouse in continuous use (since 1854) west of the Mississippi, loads of Old West pioneer character and a couple of good museums dedicated to the area's heritage, plus annual festivals celebrating the history of the place.
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