Columbia, Sonora, Groveland and Mariposa are famous Gold Rush towns. They are located in northern California. According to the Merced County Events website, Jamestown's Rail, Coulterville, La Grange and Hornitos, are also popular with tourists in the same region. In Montana, Bannack, Virginia City and Nevada City are celebrated as Gold Rush towns, notes The Huffington Post.
After the discovery of gold in 1848, miners' campsites spread over a roughly 100-mile area in northern California, a zone of rock gold deposits that would come to be known as "The Mother Lode." Camps became permanent settlements when longer-term mining operations were carried out nearby. Mining towns were visited by campers to purchase supplies and for leisure. According to Wikipedia, much of the recovered gold was used directly in these settlements, for payment to merchants or in local banks.
Many of the Gold Rush towns declined once gold mining stopped. Some, like Columbia or Sonora, were restored in the 20th century and became tourist attractions. Preserved buildings include theaters and jail houses -- symbols of these places' role both for providing entertainment and maintaining order among miners. Towns in the Mother Lode area can be reached via State Route 49, a road that travels around the Sierra Nevada hills.