Coloma and Marshal Gold Discovery
State Historic Park
The discovery of gold in California was an event that rocked the world and changed the shape of a nation! And it happened in the most unlikely way!
Sometimes things happen by pure chance - such as the site chosen to build John Sutter's sawmill along the American River. No one had an inkling that there was gold in that river until a glint of something sparkly caught James Marshall's eye!
Actually, we probably need to qualify the statement, "no one had an inkling." It's highly likely that many - if not most - of the Native Americans who lived in Northern California had seen the shiny metal in the rivers and streams of their lands.
But it's just as likely that they would not have valued it in the same way the white pioneers and settlers did, so James Marshall and John Sutter still get credit for discovering the gold that set off the California Gold Rush.
Do you have a Gold Country story to tell?
Share your story here!
For your hotel needs when you're visiting California Gold Rush country, go to HotelsCombined:
NEW! Leave a Comment!
And if you'd like to leave a comment about this website or any of
its topics, now you can! Just jump to the bottom of the page.
The Story of Sutter's Mill and the Discovery of Gold
The Coloma Valley, along the South Fork of the American River, is where James Marshall was instructed to build the lumber mill that John Sutter desperately needed to continue the expansion of the empire he was building in what was then the Mexican territory known as Alta California.
Unbeknownst to either Sutter or Marshall, their site choice was to change the world as they knew it and ultimately spoil their plans for an agricultural settlement.
The reason? The discovery of gold in the mill's tailrace!
It wasn't long before Sutter's own workers had abandoned their posts at his various enterprises to head for the hills to find gold. It's a bit difficult to build an empire without any staff!
In the end, as many as 300,000 people invaded the sleepy settlements of 1848 San Francisco and New Helvitia (Sutter's Fort), before spreading out across the foothills and mountains of Northern California in search of gold, bringing the influx of civilization and rapid growth on their coattails!
Visiting Coloma and Marshall Gold Discovery SHP Today
Photo by Suzi Rosenberg
The town that grew up around Sutter's lumber mill was christened Coloma, an adulterated version of the Nisenan Indian word for the valley - Cullumah.
Today, Coloma is a more or less a ghost town (although about 530 people still live in the census-designated place called Coloma), but it's largely encompassed by Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and contains over 20 historic buildings for you to enjoy, as well as a museum commemorating the discovery of gold and the peoples who shaped the Coloma Valley.
It's not hard to imagine yourself back in the days of the 49ers as you explore the Park! Visit the life-sized replica of Sutter's Mill, meander around and through the historic buildings, study the historic gold mining equipment, and try your hand at panning for gold in the American River!
Participate in the daily interpretive programs at the sawmill during the summer, or plan your visit to coincide with one of the Live History Days that occur throughout the year, or come participate in the very special activities that are always planned around the January 24th anniversary of James Marshall's discovery of gold!
Spend the day, have a picnic lunch, pan for gold - and enjoy a little piece of California's Gold Rush history!
Want to learn more about the Gold Rush? Keep reading!
Please continue your exploration of what Northern California has to offer by using the Nav Bars in the left and right columns, by using the links at the bottom of the page, or by using the customized search box below to find the specific topic that interests you.
Like what you're finding here at Discover Northern California? Then please share with the Social Network of your choice (see the floating Share Buttons on the right side and at the bottom of the page).
For more pictures of Northern California and other great stuff, check out our Facebook page, www.DiscoverNorthernCalifornia.com. Become a fan, write on our Wall, contribute to the Discussion Board, post a Review -- join in the fun!
And thanks for coming!
Stay in Touch
Welcome to our Labor of Love! Let us know what you think.