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Stories from the valley

Enjoying beautiful Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Nestled in the Coloma Valley alongside the south fork of the American River, the historic town of Coloma is an all-season destination for picnicking, taking short hikes and soaking up some of California’s rich Gold Rush history.

In 1848, while inspecting the tailrace of Sutter’s sawmill, James Marshall picked up some shiny metallic nuggets. Gold! News of the discovery spread quickly.  Tens of thousands of would-be miners flooded California, helping secure its break from Mexico and launching it into statehood in 1850.

Family enjoying the attractions in the park

Because of its historical significance, many elementary school children visit Sutter’s Mill in Coloma to enhance their study of California history in the spring and summer. However, Coloma should not be overlooked during the off-season as an attractive getaway during those sunny winter breaks for a picnic or short hike.

Visiting Coloma in the fall or winter will reward you with large green grassy areas, cool, fresh air, and uncrowded access to the park.  You can view the gold discovery site, relax along the river, tour historic buildings, hike to the monument that commemorates Marshall’s discovery or drive to it on California’s shortest state highway.

Highway 153 through gold country

The second Saturday of each month is living history day, when docents are dressed in period costumes and give demonstrations to enable visitors to experience life as it was in the 1800s. Guided tours are offered for a nominal fee on non-event days.

During the Christmas season, there are period activities that will whisk visitors back in time. On December 10 and 11, 2016, thirteen of the park’s historic houses will be decorated for Christmas. Five dollars per person (plus $8 parking fee per car) will give you access to all the houses, complete with knowledgeable docents available to answer your questions.

Sutter’s sawmill

It’s recommended that visitors call the museum at (530) 622-3470 or check visitor information here to make sure an activity of interest is taking place as planned.

Have a great time experiencing an exciting slice California’s history at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.