Sonora, Jamestown, Moccasin: Future border towns in State of Jefferson?

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman November 22, 2016 11:42

                       Map of proposed State of Jefferson

“So where do you live?”

“Well, we’re down at the bottom of the panhandle,” answers a Sonoran. “Right on the California border.”

Where you might find a wall. Or an international customs station. Or at least a sign welcoming you to the State of Jefferson – assuming, of course, that you didn’t vote for Hillary and really are welcome.

Jefferson? That’s a proposed new state that would include some 21 heretofore ignored  Northern California counties extending south from Yreka to the future border towns of Sonora, Jamestown and Moccasin.

Tuolumne County would be at the far end of the Jefferson panhandle – or perhaps at the tip of a south-facing hitchhiker’s thumb that would also include Calaveras and Amador counties.

You may scoff, dismissing Jefferson as a heated fantasy of the far right. Oz, Middle Earth and Tatooine, you reckon, all have better shots at statehood.

But admit it: You didn’t think Trump stood a chance either. And with his win, Jefferson’s chances are also rising.

First off, political exits have become trendy.

UK voters approved Brexit even though scores of pundits and prognosticators swore the proposed departure of Britain from the European Union had no chance of passage.

Now we have Calexit. Hatched in the wake of Nov. 8’s Trumpentry, it’s a plan to declare independence from the U.S. and create a Peoples’ Republic whose citizens will elect one Democratic president after another. Hillary need a boost? She could move here and be the first president of California.

Which brings us to the Jefferson, which needs a catchy “exit” word of its own.

Why not Rednexit, which has only three syllables, is colorful and is reasonably accurate?  If you consider the logic below, Rednexit is all but a lock:

Calexit’s a go:  It will almost certainly happen. Got an aunt in Cleveland or Chicago? Get a passport.

Yes, there are few pesky constitutional requirements – like two-thirds’ approval of both the House and the U.S. Senate and the blessing of at least 38 state legislatures.

But face it, everyone in the rest of America thinks we’re nuts. Finding 38 legislatures that don’t like us is like looking for 38 hillbillies in Kentucky. When it comes to secession, Midwesterners, Southerners and Northerners will help pack our bags, hold the door open, then kick our Golden State asses on the way out.

The Trump administration and its Republican Congress?  You really think they’d miss the 55 electoral votes that California has for nearly 30 years delivered to Democratic candidates with the regularity of Old Faithful?

So Rednexit’s a go:  Face it, the rest of Calfornia thinks we boonlanders are nuts.  They don’t like guns, logging, dams, open-pit mining, hunting, country music, chewing tobacco, huge pickup trucks and bad attitudes.

Sure, there are a few hurdles – approval by the California Legislature and by Congress among them.

This process doesn’t happen often: The last time a new state was carved from an old one was in 1862 – 154 years ago – when West Virginia left Virginia.  So, yes, it’s about time.

And it should come easy: Do you suppose the scores of big-city lawmakers in Sacramento are going to miss their aggravating, country-bumpkin Republican cousins from the state’s nether regions? What’s more, if Jefferson is created, what’s left of California can save billions by scrapping 22nd Century plans to extend that high-speed rail line to Yreka.

And D.C.?  You think Trump and Congress are going reject a brand-new state that will regularly deliver a half-dozen or so electoral votes to the GOP? Puerto Rico can’t do that, and neither can American Samoa.

Put Calexit in play, and the outlook is even better: California goes, Jefferson comes in and the U.S. state count remains at a nice, even 50 – meaning the federal government will save millions in sewing costs by avoiding the addition of a 51st star to the flag.


                                Future border patrol? 

Next comes the fun part: We Jeffersonians get to pick a capital.

Yreka, whose citizens gave rise to the new-state movement more than 75 years ago, has the inside track. But Columbia deserves a shot. As a bustling Gold Rush camp with a population of more than 5,000, it was reportedly in the running for state capital in the 1850s.

And it has seat-of-government experience, all 24 hours of it: Gov. Earl Warren declared Columbia  “capital for the day” on July 15, 1945, when the town was dedicated as a state historic park.

Which, if we’re looking at resumes, is one more day than Yreka has.

No to Columbia? Then let’s give it to Bummerville,  a submicroscopic demographic speck somewhere in northern Calaveras County. A new state whose residents detest big government should be proud to have a capital that nobody can find.

Next we can choose the Jefferson state bird (buzzard?), flower (poison oak?), tree (bull pine?) and animal (raccoon? squirrel?  possum?).  Actually, any common animal that’s unlikely to go extinct within Jefferson’s boundaries – like the grizzly did decades ago within California’s – is OK.

Finally, what about Jefferson’s economy?

“It just defies logic to think that you can take all the poorest counties in California, cluster them together and somehow end up with a prosperous new state,” carped one critic.

Wrong.  Turn the clock back about six decades and you’ll get the answer: vice.

In 1953, reported the pulp magazine Bare, Sonora’s Washington Street was a “neon-encrusted assemblage of bars, pool halls and back rooms.”

“Here’s a little town in Northern California that still keeps a free and easy attitude toward sex and sin,” it gushed. “Cigar stands do nicely with their bookmaking and the back rooms are always alive with several games. If you know anyone in town, they can recommend you a ‘nice girl’ staying at some motel on the outskirts.”

And the economy? It was booming, attracting many thousands of tourists each weekend. “The two-dozen bars in town make a fortune,” ventured Bare.

Also, vice worked for Nevada: Before March 19, 1931 the state was in the iron grip of the Great Depression. But that day, thanks to an enlightened (and desperate) legislature, gambling was made legal and the economy skyrocketed.  As for prostitution, it’s been legal in some Nevada counties since the 19th Century.

So let’s turn back the clock, open up gambling and legalize ladies of the night. As Sonora, Jamestown and Moccasin will be a “border towns” at the far end of Jefferson’s panhandle, tourists will flock across the state line (or the national border, a la Tijuana) to blow stacks of cash at our brothels, bars and casinos.

And, like it or not, when you say you live in the panhandle, people will know exactly what you’re talking about.

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman November 22, 2016 11:42
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  1. Scribe November 22, 22:29

    Chris, I’ve been waiting on our local paper for some time to go after this story. Never expected you to scoop The Union Democrat newsroom, our former job abode. I pass ubiquitous State Of Jefferson sign on Phoenix Lake Rd. on the way to my home on it. Great job, laced with the Bateman flair of wit and panache

  2. Al Mandell November 23, 14:24

    Another gem, CB!!

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