Marshall’s monument, the original gold discovery site, and several historic buildings became part of California’s state park system in 1927.
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park features a museum, many original and restored buildings, and costumed volunteers.
You can learn to pan for gold behind Bekeart’s Gun Shop, or purchase a pan at the Marshall Gold Mercantile and try your luck at the panning beach along the South Fork of the American River.
Other Park activities include video presentations in the museum, guided walking tours, a mining methods museum, a Chinese store, and a reproduction of Sutter’s Mill. Pick up a map from the museum and take a self-guided tour of the town, the cemetery, the Monument Trail, and the Monroe Ridge Trail.
In 1887 the State of California purchased a site for a monument to commemorate James Marshall, who in 1848 discovered Gold near Coloma. Marshall's discovery started the gold rush, the westward trek of Argonauts that marked a turning point in California History. The figure of Marshall atop the monument it pointing to the place of discovery on the South Fork of the American River.
Once news of the gold discovery got out, people came to Sutter's Mill in droves. To Marshall's dismay, the mill was never completed, and Marshall was forced from his land by stronger, more aggressive miners. Ironically, neither Marshall nor Sutter ever profited from gold mining during the gold rush.
The statue is located at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma a the end of Highway 153 - the state's shortest highway, off of Cold Springs Road.
Every year, tens of thousands of California schoolchildren, mostly 4th graders, visit Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park as part of their studies in California history. They see the site of the 1848 gold discovery that started the 1849 California Gold Rush and learn how it transformed our state and the nation.
Other highlights of their visits include seeing a reproduction of Sutter’s Mill, learning to pan for gold, and meeting docents dressed in period clothes working as blacksmiths or doing other crafts of the time. The kids can pick out souvenirs from the Marshall Gold Mercantile, or maybe enjoy ice cream at the Argonaut.
If you’re not a California fourth grader, you can still visit the place where California’s history was forever changed and get your own ice cream, too. Wander along the river, watch the Canada geese fly by on their migration, and pick up a bit of history. We look forward to your visit!
For more information call Park Headquarters at (530) 622-3470, contact the Gold Discovery Park Association at (530) 622-6198, P.O. Box 461, Coloma, California, 95613, or visit the official Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park web site.
The Park sponsors several events each year; see the Coloma Valley calendar for details. The Park’s historic church is a popular wedding location. See our Weddings page for more information. If you are interested in reserving one of the group picnic areas, call (530) 295-2174.