VISIT BEST OF SONORA: THE THIRSTY PROSPECTOR HAS HALF PRICE BOOKS, ICE CREAM & BEER
The Thirsty Prospector is a family-friendly and family-owned pub & book shop in Downtown Sonora. We offer ice cream, delicious food and beer. We also have an incredible, always-changing selection of used books, and other retail goods.
"Thirsty Prospector, formerly Legends at 131 S. Washington St., changed hands and rebranded in February last year and just recently began offering beer and food. K.C. Hedges, who owns the business with his mother, Lisa, said they now have 12 taps for beer and serve hot dogs, chili dogs, sausages and rice bowls, while also continuing to sell books, antiques and novelty items. Hedges also owns Little Roots Toy Shop across the street, which recently expanded into another adjacent space. “There’s a lot of progress being made and definitely increasing the traffic overall that I see in town,” he said. “Something like the Armory I think will just scale that up a bit…. If that can be successful, then other people will go for bigger things here.”
Taking up new residence in Downtown Sonora is The Thirsty Prospector. This piece of Sonora is rich in history and goes clear back to 1850. This is the second oldest building in Sonora, with the City Hotel that resides next door being the oldest. Both of these buildings have survived the test of time as well as trial by fire, due to both buildings being constructed from stone.
Originally, this building was a general store when it first opened its doors, selling clothing and tools to the plethora of miners seeking their fortune here in the cold country. Virginian, Rueben Pasteur, ran the establishment.
In the 1880’s, Charles Bowle, operated an oyster bar on the site before it was run as dry goods, clothing and a carpet store. After it spent its time as a general mercantile, ownership was changed as well as the business.
The building became home to the Bank of Italy next, from 1920 to 1932. There were many tunnels that connected buildings under Sonora, and one of those tunnels tied into the basement of the bank. Miners were able to bring their gold to the bank, while avoiding suspicion on the surface. Today, the building has a spot where you can look into one of the old tunnels that runs under Washington Street.
This building then retired as a bank and switched rolls to becoming a bar called the Mountain Club. In the 1950’s, the bar had rumors of illegal gambling in the basement but was eventually put to a stop when local law enforcement caught on to it.
Through time, the name of the bar changed many times, yet the bar remained. The building was in very bad condition and required major renovations. As time passed, the bar became a very rough place and was closed in 2003.
From 2003 to 2020, the building was owned by Legends, a book and antique store. In December of 2020, the building was purchased under new ownership.
Within the building today, there is a bar that has stood the toll of time. Made in Italy in 1850, the mahogany bar that reaches to the ceiling, was shipped to Chicago for use. In 1871 a massive fire shredded the city of Chicago. This bar miraculously survived the fire and moved on to a new home. The bar was then purchased by a new owner and was shipped to San Fransisco via Cape Horn’s long route, around South America by ship. The bar was then relocated to San Francisco’s financial district. In 1906, disaster struck again.
The great earthquake of 1906 ripped San Fransisco apart, leaving it in shambles. Again, the bar held together and survived the quake. After the shaking stopped, the bar was put into storage in a San Fransisco warehouse to be forgotten.
Luckily, the mahogany bar was not forgotten. It was purchased yet again and brought to its current home, in Sonora around 1950. It has resided in place since.
Today, The Thirsty Prospector has a theme of selling beer, some antiques, books and ice cream. The plan is to have unique promotions, such as trading a stack of books for a beer, book exchanges, book readings and live music.
"Very cool place. Fun to wander and explore." D.P. April 2022
"Large selection of books, historic gold mine below and delicious ice cream above. A must see in Sonora." G.K. March 2022
"Just starting out with new ownership. Absolutely beautiful building with so much history. Downstairs there are shelves and shelves of used books with comfy couches and remnants of history on the walls and nooks and crannies. A great saloon bar upstairs serving ice cream for now and lots more coming soon. It’s a must visit if you’re passing through Sonora downtown!"
S.C.H. August 2021
"2nd oldest building in Sonora is back pouring some good beers and ice cream available too!" V.Q. April 2022
"Our building boasts an open section of the historic tunnel system beneath downtown Sonora - adventure down and thumb through some old books! We hope you'll stop by for a visit, to sit at the iconic bar, and enjoy a drink in the one of the oldest buildings in Sonora."
131 South Washington Street, Sonora, California 95370, United States
E-mail Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
11:00 am – 04:00 pm