Come to Coloma — come to the Gold Rush! Expanded to three days this year, Coloma will be full of sights, sounds, scents, and hands-on experiences as costumed volunteers living in a tent encampment and working a recreated mining camp show us history. Merchants hawk their wares, musicians play period instruments and sing songs of the early immigrants, and children play games from the 19th century. For these three days, artists make pictures, tools, and clothes, visitors learn how to pan for gold and make candles and rope, and miners tell tales from the goldfields. On Sunday at 11 a.m., “the Rev. Freedom Hawkins,” accompanied by Joan Cook on the historic Emmanuel Church organ, calls all visitors to an 1850s church service. All three days, visitors may rub shoulders with adventurers and historical figures, such as James Marshall, who found the nugget that started the California Gold Rush.
In the beautiful Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park under graceful trees, “Tent Town” will be the site of much of the action. Near the main museum (where there will be food vendors), volunteers in period dress and tents will cook over open fires and demonstrate trades such as spinning, weaving, basket making and more. Wagon rides will be available for hire. And an extra-special feature is free mail service in Tent Town! Folks can write letters (the old-fashioned way) in a General Delivery tent, and mail will be delivered by horse. Experience some of the many cultures that were here at this important time in history through Mexican and Spanish/Californio tents, the Miwok Village, and the Chinese Store museum.
There will be even more fun activity across the street. See a blacksmith at work! John Clagett, Volunteer Coordinator and event organizer, is especially excited about the participation of expert blacksmith and farrier Eron Simmons. Simmons will be demonstrating period blacksmith techniques at the still-functioning Monroe Blacksmith shop on Main Street. Even better, he will be doing so in the character of Pearley Monroe himself! Pearley was a member of the Monroe-Gooch African American family who worked their way out of slavery to become successful and respected in the area. They eventually owned the land that is now the State Park where all these festivities will occur. See “Pearley” on Saturday only!
Also in the park, the historic Thomas and Capini Houses will be open Saturday and Sunday for a special inside look. And for more fun, activity, and history, volunteers all three days will be in the area of Sutter’s Mill interpreting the building of the mill, the discovery of gold, and a carpenters’ cabin. Even more — right there along the river will be a re-creation of a 1849 mining camp. See it live!
Coloma Gold Rush Live! is presented by Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and the Gold Discovery Park Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the interpretation and conservation of the Park. Parking and entry fee is only $8 per carload, covering everyone in the car. Times are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Monday. For more information call (530) 295-2162. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is located in Coloma on Highway 49 between Placerville and Auburn.
Visit the Gold Discovery Park Association website for photographs from previous Gold Rush Live celebrations. All photographs are ©copyright 2004-2008 by Betty Sederquist, and may not be reprinted without her permission. We are grateful to Betty for her generous support of Marshall Park and the Coloma-Lotus community.