Travel: Sonora, Calif.

Sonora is the largest of the gold-rush sites that lured fortune seekers to California in the mid-1800s. One hundred fifty years later, the region is attracting a new breed of adventurer, seeking wealth measured by affordable housing, pleasant weather and small-town charm.

Dick and Patty Peterson found Sonora while driving from their Berkeley, Calif., home to Yosemite National Park. Passing through the town over the years, they grew to love the rugged countryside, and they fantasized about retiring there one day. Four years ago, they did just that, buying a four-bedroom ranch-style home.

One of the region's biggest selling...

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