Photo of Mariposa, CA courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri.
Mariposa, like all the historic Gold Rush towns along California Highway 49, is a charming place. And, like the other towns, it lives and dies largely on tourism.
A couple of brutal fire years (Detwiler last year, Ferguson this) caused people to cancel their Yosemite National Park-area travel plans, which hits a place like Mariposa hard. With tourism at Yosemite largely a late spring-summer-early fall thing, Mariposa has a very small window to make up for lost time.
Now, some business owners tell the San Francisco Chronicle, the town faces a new challenge.
Yes, photos on Facebook, good reviews on Yelp and hot deals on Hotels.com bring people to the area---but, according to Mariposa residents, at least four times in the past two months, Google Maps has shown CA 140, the highway from Yosemite to town, closed when it wasn't. One of those erroneous closures stayed on Google Maps for 13 days. The reality didn't stop people from cancelling their reservations anyway. Who would you trust, the innkeeper who doesn't want to lose your deposit, or Google Maps?
According to the Chronicle, local businesspeople, the Yosemite Mariposa County Board of Tourism, the County Board of Supervisors, Caltrans---even the National Park Service---have all reached out to Google and gotten cyber-crickets. Meantime, Mariposa County has gone into emergency budget cuts and some small businesses, unable to withstand the effects of Mother Nature and Google Maps, have shut their doors.
The worry has always been that your GPS will try to take you someplace where there really is no road (there are documented cases of people driving straight into a lake because the map said there was a road). Now, we have the opposite...software telling us an open road isn't.