The Gold Rush in Columbia, California started in March 1850 by some Mexican miners in this scenic town in the mountains of Tuolumne County. Although the handful of men secretly moved their camp to the place where they had discovered the reserve of gold, within a month, 6,000 miners invaded camp and a town sprung up overnight. Within a couple of years, there were 8 hotels, 4 banks, 17 general stores, 2 firehouses, 2 bookstores, 1 newspaper, 3 churches, and over 40 drinking/gambling establishments. Many of those Pioneer businesses can still be visited today, as the entire town was turned into Columbia State Historic Park, the best-preserved California Gold rush town. There’s gold panning available for the budding prospector of any age, and lots of other activities and attractions in the area: RVing, camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, backpacking, canoeing, fishing, flying over Yosemite, zip lines, as well as tours of local wineries.
Walk The Streets Of The Best Preserved California Gold Rush Town
Only pedestrians, horse-drawn stagecoaches and cowboys are allowed to travel Main Street Columbia. Emporiums featuring Gold Rush era clothing and accessories, old fashioned candy shops, a live theater, and a working Blacksmith shop are open for business. There’s even a Saloon so you can get a real taste of authentic pioneer life. All of the shopkeepers, in period dress, are well versed in Gold Rush and Columbia history and are more than willing to share it with visitors.
Even The Amateur Prospector Can Find Gold, Panning In Columbia
At the end of town, try gold panning at Hidden Treasure Gold Mine for a nominal fee. During the two-hour panning session, you’ll surely find plenty of gemstones, Pyrite (fool’s gold), and, hopefully, a gold nugget or two. A kindly, knowledgeable docent teaches you the correct way to “dip and swirl” the pan to find the most hidden treasure while regaling you with fascinating tales from the region’s rich history.
Historic Pioneer Schoolhouse And Cemetery Document The Taming Of The West
A short walk from Main Street is the old schoolhouse and cemetery. Restored to its original state, the schoolhouse, complete with mid 19th Century furnishings and supplies on display, gives an excellent glimpse into Pioneer life, while the cemetery documents the many lives that contributed to the taming of the West. Columbia was built by the toils of a diverse group of Caucasians, Mexicans, Peruvians and Chinese, all of which traveled across the world, seeking the riches that awaited them in the Granite rocks surrounding the town.
Old West Style Accommodations And Transportation
Stay at The City Hotel on Main Street for a peek into one of the most wild periods of America’s history, as well as one of California’s finest restorations. An authentically restored 19th Century country inn reveals rooms, beautifully decorated with antiques and wall coverings from the era. Some have balconies where you can sit and enjoy the fresh air and watch the goings-on of an authentic Gold Rush Era town, or enjoy the sitting parlour where you can peruse books and magazines, or play board games.
Quartz Mountain Stage Line will take visitors on an authentic stagecoach ride through the Wild West. They also offer guided trail rides though the beautiful Western landscape that surrounds Columbia.
A trip back in time to this perfectly preserved Gold Rush town is a must for any traveler fascinated by 19th Century History, the Old West or the Gold Rush era. You’ll also be in awe of the abundance of Western mountain scenery that provides a beautiful backdrop for your adventure. Just like those early miners did, you’ll be yelling “Eureka!”, when you discover the treasures of this living museum.