On January 24, 1848, James Marshall set off early and alone to inspect progress in deepening the ditch that channeled water from the sawmill back to the river. Suddenly, he bent over and picked up a few particles gleaming in the icy water. “Hey, . . . — — Map (db m17241) HM
On the occasion of James W. Marshall's 200th birthday, the Native Sons of the Golden West rededicate this monument erected in his honor. Born in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey to Phillip and Sarah Wilson Marshall on October 8, 1810, he . . . — — Map (db m71528) HM
Sutter’s Mill put Coloma on the map, but the very gold rush it triggered spelled ruin for Sutter’s vision of New Helvetia.
Dreams of a Better Life
Would you work pennies a day when the gold fields offered hopes of a better life? Most . . . — — Map (db m214702) HM
If you stood here in 1848, you would have seen a Nisenan village of bark structures and people busy with the tasks of daily life.
The chaws-se, or grinding rock, was a key part of village life. We know from the many deep holes pounded into . . . — — Map (db m214885) HM
Located on this corner in 1853 was a sturdy, well proportioned 2-story hotel known as the American House. The proprietors, Marchant and Crocker, were proud of their hotel with its healthful location on “Piety Hill” opposite the Court H House. This . . . — — Map (db m17161) HM
Mexicans introduced the mule or horse-powered arrastre to California in 1849. Gold-bearing ore was ground between heavy stones upon a surface of well-fitted rocks. Miners then panned the pulverized ore to collect the gold. They also used mercury in . . . — — Map (db m215201) HM
This beer garden, a recent addition to Coloma, was built by Jim Bridgham in the mid 1950s. Jim and his sister Margaret operated a business called the “Hitching Rack” and built the beer garden so the “locals” could sit around, drink a few beers, and . . . — — Map (db m17429) HM
Jules Francois Bekeart was a gunsmith who came here in 1849 to sell guns and mine gold. He soon became a close friend of James Marshall. The hard labor of gold mining was not to his liking so “Frank” Berkeart continued his successful gunsmith . . . — — Map (db m17225) HM
This wooden building, built by Pearley Monroe around 1928, is representative of the many blacksmith shops in Coloma during and after the gold rush period. It provided shade for the forge and protection from the weather. An essential member of the . . . — — Map (db m215366) HM
This cabin was erected by Marshall and occupied by him from 1856 : 1870. Born in New Jersey October 8, 1810. Came to California in 1845 – Died at Kelsey, this state, August 10, 1885. The discovery of gold by Marshall in the tailrace of John A. . . . — — Map (db m12215) HM
Soon after miners discovered gold in underground quartz veins, mills were brought in to process ore. Dating back to at least the 1500’s, the mills used heavy iron pounders called stamps to crush the rock. Each mill had a series of stamps equipped . . . — — Map (db m215022) HM
It took one small nugget to change the whole country.
On January 24, 1848, James Marshall found a few bits of gold – less than an ounce – in the tailrace of John Sutter’s sawmill along the American River. This wasn’t the . . . — — Map (db m215736) HM
If you had stood on this spot in 1769, 1823, and 1848, you would have been in three different countries! Each time California switched hands, life changed for its people.
“California” was a Spanish province in 1769. For the . . . — — Map (db m214606) HM
In the years leading up to the Gold Rush, life changed dramatically for the Nisenan who called this valley home.
To the Nisenan, “Cullumah” was home. For generations, they thrived in the valley and mountains, building large . . . — — Map (db m214607) HM
Soon after gold was discovered in California, many experienced gold miners came to California from Chile in 1848 and 1849. They introduced the Chilean wheel, which crushed ore beneath heavy round stones.
This mill was identical in design to mills . . . — — Map (db m215202) HM
Following the California Gold Rush of ’49, swarms of Chinese miners came to make their mark on the diggings in the Mother Lode, including this Coloma Valley. They were industrious and self-contained and mostly content to thoroughly comb the old . . . — — Map (db m12225) HM
These two stone buildings known as the Wah Hop and Man Lee Stores were built by Jonas Wilder before 1860and leased to Chinese merchants. Located at the edge of a large Chinese community, they sold traditional foods, clothing and other items. Such . . . — — Map (db m12227) HM
Between 1850 and 1883, Coloma was home to a sizeable Chinese community. These stone buildings, known as the man Lee and Wah Hop stores, are all that remain.
Chinese merchants supplied their countrymen with mining necessities and . . . — — Map (db m215013) HM
”The principle street of Coloma was alive with crowds of moving men, passing and repassing, laughing, talking, and all appearing in the best of humor. It was a scene that no other country could ever imitate.”
from “A . . . — — Map (db m12274) HM
Has been designated a
Registered National Historic Landmark
Under the provisions of the Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935
This site possesses exceptional value in commemorating and illustrating the history of the United States . . . — — Map (db m215644) HM
In the 1850’s and 1860’s, Coloma had two breweries, the “El Dorado” and the “Coloma”. They were located between Brewery Street and the river. An 1853 advertisement in Coloma’s newspaper stated:
“Mr. Joseph Wellman would respectfully inform . . . — — Map (db m12324) HM
Coloma’s first two bridges were located about ¼ mile upstream from here. During the summer of 1849 Jim Stephens built a foot-bridge with a 25 cent toll. In 1850 John Little and Edward Raun built a wagon bridge with a toll house that brought in . . . — — Map (db m215522) HM
This building, perhaps originally a livery stable, was the armory for the Coloma Greys, a local volunteer militia company. After the Greys disbanded in 1862, the building was used as a carriage house by Elias Weller, who lived in the large white . . . — — Map (db m17222) HM
This building, was the armory for the Coloma Greys, a local volunteer militia company who organized in 1857. A.A. Van Guelder was chosen as captain and the group attended the first Military Encampment in 1859. The Greys disbanded in 1862 due to . . . — — Map (db m215206) HM
Coloma’s first post office opened in 1849 when, against his wishes, John T. Little was appointed postmaster. In 1851 Coloma received tri-weekly mail service from Sacramento City. The post office, first designated as Culloma, California Territory, . . . — — Map (db m17180) HM
Coloma’s first post office opened in 1849 when, against his wishes, John T. Little was appointed postmaster. The post office, first designated as “Culloma, California Territory,” was changed to “Coloma” in January 1851. This tiny building . . . — — Map (db m215207) HM
In 1885 Coloma’s three private school schools enrolled 187 pupils; two years later one large public school held 234 children. That school was housed in the original El Dorado County Courthouse on this site. The courthouse burned in 1915, and this . . . — — Map (db m17129) HM
School in Coloma began before there was an official schoolhouse in town. After the county seat was moved to Placerville, the second story of the old courthouse was chosen as the building to hold the school in 1858. This schoolhouse was moved here . . . — — Map (db m215355) HM
A large brick building measuring 50 feet by 65 feet, was built here in 1856. Two older frame structures were demolished and were sorely missed by the “old-timers” of that day. The brick for this store probably came from a brickyard 2 miles south of . . . — — Map (db m12273) HM
Thousands of people emigrated to California with the dream of riches for themselves and have found their final rest in these hallowed grounds.
The exact date that the cemetery was founded is unknown. The earliest known graves date from 1849. In . . . — — Map (db m12282) HM
When El Dorado County was organized in 1850 as part of the new State of California, Coloma was named the county seat. County offices were housed in simple frame structures until 1856, when a fine court house was built here on the public square. . . . — — Map (db m17141) HM
The Crescent City Hotel was one of Coloma’s finest. Hugh Plant purchased the hotel in 1854 and turned it into a popular theater which helped the miners relax and forget their hard work in the “diggings.” Many well-known performers of the day . . . — — Map (db m215205) HM
For John Sutter and James Marshall, the sawmill was an invaluable laborsaving machine – using water power to replace human power.
It was hard work to construct a sawmill. It would take many months for the trees to be . . . — — Map (db m215529) HM
John Sutter and James Marshall came to California with dreams of a brighter future, but they never imagined their future would hold gold!
For both Sutter and Marshall, California was a land of opportunity. A persuasive . . . — — Map (db m214608) HM
In the 1850s a black man known only as “Dukehart” operated a barbershop that straddled the creek at this location. Typical of many barbershops of this period, Dukehart’s establishment also provided hot baths for his customers. The water was carried . . . — — Map (db m17166) HM
In the 1850’s a black man, Joseph Smallwood, operated a barbershop that straddled the creek at this location. Typical of many barbershops of this period, Smallwood’s establishment also provided hot baths for his customers. The water was carried . . . — — Map (db m215352) HM
The first known mention of a jail in Coloma was in 1850. It was located in the Marshall House hotel near the river. The second jail was made of large logs and was located farther up High Street. It was used from 1850 to 1856. The third and final . . . — — Map (db m215300) HM
Coloma’s first jail was made of logs and was located around the corner on High Street. The second jail, built in 1855, quickly proved to be too small, and this stone-block prison was erected. It was used from 1857 until 1862. The metal cell that . . . — — Map (db m12228) HM
Built in 1855, this is the oldest Episcopal church building in the state. It was later purchased and used by the Methodists. James Marshall's funeral services were held here in 1885. The Church remains a popular site for weddings. Contact the Park . . . — — Map (db m53184) HM
New Jersey-born James Wilson Marshall came to John Sutter’s fort at Sacramento in July 1845, just a year before the American conquest of California. Trained as a carpenter and wheelwright by his father, Marshall quickly found . . . — — Map (db m215533) HM
Hazeltine and his brother both came to Coloma as artists and set up separate shops in 1854. This one was located on the second story of a building next to the Winter’s Hotel. He had a reputation for superior work done with superior equipment. An . . . — — Map (db m215289) HM
For a brief moment, Coloma was the destination for anyone seeking their fortune in California’s gold fields.
Gold Rush Town
Almost overnight, migrants from around the world turned Coloma into a town of tent dwellings, hotels, and stores. . . . — — Map (db m214630) HM
After mining started to decline in the mid-1850s, the local people turned to agriculture. Among them was Henry Mahler, who had over 1,500 fruit trees on this site in the 1860s. Henry Mahler Sr. died in 1867, and Henry Jr. took over the farm. Most of . . . — — Map (db m215741) HM
As miners moved from Sierra streams to gulches and hills, they found rich gold deposits in ancient river beds, some far from water. By 1853 they had begun working these gravels with water delivered through hoses and nozzles. Ultimately, this major . . . — (db m215029) HM
“Boys I believe I have found a gold mine” so said James W. Marshall to his millworkers on January 24, 1848, after he discovered gold in the tail race of Captain John A. Sutter’s sawmill at Coloma. This discovery started the great Gold Rush to . . . — — Map (db m12224) HM
James Marshall arrived in the “Collumah”, valley home of the Nisenan, on May 8, 1847 to map the site for a sawmill he was to build in partnership with John Sutter. On August 18, Marshall returned with a crew, mostly Mormons, to build the mill. On . . . — — Map (db m39013) HM
Tom Kane was born in Coloma of his Irish parents in 1855. He built this house for his bride, Julia, in 1886. He died 5 years later, and Julia lived here for many years afterward. In 1934 Ralph Hikens owned the house and operated a store and post . . . — — Map (db m17168) HM
On January 24, 1848 James W. Marshall discovered gold in the south fork of the American River. The discovery sparked the famous California Gold Rush which brought thousands of prospective miners to California from around the world. — — Map (db m214602) HM
James Marshall’s first cabin was built bear the sawmill. That cabin was sold and a second floor was added and used as a hotel. In 1857, he purchased fourteen acres and built a cabin on this spot. He used this existing mining ditch for irrigating his . . . — — Map (db m215638) HM
At this site was one of California’s first bowling alleys. It was actually three buildings, with single-lane bowling alleys in each of the side buildings. The establishment, also known as the Metropolitan Saloon and Sporting Hall, featured gambling . . . — — Map (db m17598) HM
This cabin is an example of he quarters used by miners during the gold rush. The earliest structures were canvas tents, made from recycled sailcloth taken from abandoned ships in San Francisco Bay. In 1849 Coloma had hundreds of “tent” cabins. When . . . — — Map (db m12270) HM
Mining ditches were dug by ditch companies to carry vast amounts of water needed for placer mining. Thousands of miles of ditches and flumes were built in the gold country; some brought immense profits to their owners. As mining declined in the . . . — — Map (db m17484) HM
The home of the pioneer Monroe family stood here for more than a century. The family matriarch, Nancy Gooch, came across the plains from Missouri as a slave in 1849. She gained her freedom in 1850 when California joined the Union as a . . . — — Map (db m17455) HM
Pearly Monroe was a grandson of Peter and Nancy Gooch, who were freed from slavery here when California became a state in 1850. The Monroe family became successful fruit farmers and prominent property holders in Coloma. This house was built by . . . — — Map (db m17205) HM
Members of the “Mormon Battalion,” returning from the war with Mexico, were enlisted by Sutter and Marshall to help construct Sutter’s Mill.
The Mormon members of the sawmill crew built a cabin near the mill during the winter of 1847. Earlier . . . — — Map (db m12158) HM
In 1946, President James K. Polk authorized the Army to enlist Mormons to fight in the Mexican War. 496 men joined the Mormon Battalion in Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16, 1846. They marched over 2,000 miles, building a wagon road from Santa Fe to . . . — — Map (db m215525) HM
Born in Virginia around 1790, Nelson Bell was brought to California as an enslaved person in 1850. When he gained his freedom, Nelson purchased the land you see before you in 1856 and lived in a house on this property. On the 1860 census he is . . . — — Map (db m215024) HM
This restored home is typical of a moderately well=to=do merchant’s house of the 1860’s. It represents the economic stability of Coloma, based on agriculture and lumber, after the initial rush for gold had waned. Chauncy Noteware, the original . . . — — Map (db m215642) HM
Built in 1854 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, this hall was also shared with religious organizations of the Coloma community. The I.O.O.F. was only one of the many fraternal lodges that were active during the 1850s in Coloma and in most . . . — — Map (db m17143) HM
The I.O.O.F. Hall was built in 1854 by the International Order of Odd Fellow, Lodge #27, and the Baptist Church. The I.O.O.F. was only one of many fraternal lodges that were active during the 1850s in Coloma and in most mining towns. The building . . . — — Map (db m215353) HM
This home is located near the site of an 1853-1864 bakery and confectionery store and owned and operated by Luther Davis. The impressive Davis home was located on the hill, some 100 feet behind the bakery. Both were dismantled after 1885. This . . . — — Map (db m17164) HM
In 1850 Luther Davis built a bakery here. It was a two-story wood-frame building with ornate trim and a large glass door. Inside were bakery ovens and glass display cases. The bakery was later abandoned and partially dismantled in 1882. Joseph . . . — — Map (db m215305) HM
Friday, Aug. 27, 1847…made a contract and entered in partnership with Marshall for a sawmill to be built on the Amer. Fork.
So wrote John Augustus Sutter, methodically recording the agreement that led to California’s astonishing gold . . . — — Map (db m17226) HM
This cemetery, also called “Coloma Protestant” Cemetery, “Sutter’s Mill” Cemetery, and “Vineyard House” Cemetery, is the final resting place for many ‘49ers. Among these graves are the remains of miners, farmers, . . . — — Map (db m12279) HM
When quartz decomposes, small gold particles are freed. They wash downstream and collect as placer gold in sand and gravel bars along Sierra rivers. Placer mining is the simple but exhausting task of washing tons of sand, gravel, and dirt to recover . . . — — Map (db m215203) HM
This area held a number of important homes and stores during the gold rush. The first large building in Coloma was built here in 1849 by John T. Little. It contained a store, hotel, restaurant and post office. Little also operated a ferry to cross . . . — — Map (db m215742) HM
Most of Coloma's buildings were wooden, but some were were made of brick or stone to resist fire. This one, known as "Bells Brick Store," was a general merchandise store that also sold feed and grain. The U.S. Post Office was located in this . . . — — Map (db m12207) HM
Robert Bell arrived in 1850 and built a wooden store. When this burned down he erected a brick building in the same location in 1853. It was known as “Bell’s Brick Store,” a general merchandise store that also sold feed and grain. The U.S. Post . . . — — Map (db m215357) HM
This is Coloma’s Catholic Cemetery. There were probably some internments here early in the 1850’s. Many of the early burials were marked by wooden markers that have long since disappeared. The oldest existing headstone is dated 1861. This cemetery . . . — — Map (db m12280) HM
Religion played an important role in Coloma’s development and, at one time, the community supported eight different churches. This building was erected in 1858 to replace a log church constructed two years earlier. In 1920 this Catholic church was . . . — — Map (db m215640) HM
This house was built in 1916 by Charles Schulze for his daughter Daisy, who visited Coloma occasionally. Schulze had been a miner, blacksmith, teamster and mason. In 1886 he fell heir to the Sierra Nevada House and became a hotelkeeper. He died in . . . — — Map (db m17170) HM
The established eastern company, Adams Express, struck it rich in California. They provided the banking and mail services the miners so desperately needed. The Coloma branch office opened in 1853. Gold, mail, and packages were taken from here to San . . . — — Map (db m215369) HM
Livery stables were the service station of the 19th century. They provided hay, grain, stables for the animals and vehicle repair. They also kept horses, mules, carriages and wagons to rent, trade or sell. One of several liveries stood here. The . . . — — Map (db m215364) HM
In the 1850s, the law offices of Thomas Robertson and the firm of Sanderson and Hews were at this site. The town alcalde also had his office here. Borrowed from Mexican government, the position of alcalde combined the roles of mayor, justice of the . . . — — Map (db m17572) HM
A large brick building measuring 50 feet by 65 feet was built here in 1856. Two older frame structures were demolished and sorely missed by the “old-timers” of that day. The store was torn down in 1877 by Robert Chalmers. He used the brick at the . . . — — Map (db m215303) HM
Doctor William Taylor ran a “hospital” in Coloma as early as 1849, and later opened a drug store and pharmacy. While continuing to practice medicine, Doctor Taylor sold a complete line of drugs, extracts, acids, and other chemicals. Later, under . . . — — Map (db m215370) HM
Fire companies had a high status in the social life of the 1850’s. Deep friendships were formed, and frequent reunions, farewells, and patriotic celebrations brought the town’s citizens together. Hook and Ladder house was completed late in 1853. It . . . — — Map (db m215518) HM
Joseph Seeley pioneered Coloma’s jewelry and watch repair trade in 1849. He advertised himself as “Watchmaker and Jeweler,” selling gold and silver watches from “the best watch-maker in the world.” He manufactured watches, vest chains, lockets, and . . . — — Map (db m215643) HM
The Sierra Nevada House was a handsome two-story building with many windows and a broad balcony. Here guests could always expect fine hospitality, suburb food, excellent ballroom music, fine carriages and comfortable beds. It was opened by Robert . . . — — Map (db m12237) HM
Built in 1850, the Sierra Nevada House was a two-story building with many windows and a broad balcony. Here guests could always expect superb food, excellent ballroom music, and comfortable beds. It was operated by Robert Chalmers from 1852 until . . . — — Map (db m215361) HM
The Virginia Saloon was on of Coloma’s earliest leisure retreats. It is said that James W. Marshall, the discoverer of gold, was among the customers who spent many hours here. Later, Simeon Hunt had a blacksmith shop on this site.
Marshall Gold . . . — — Map (db m215358) HM
The Weller brothers, Samuel and Eliaas, operated two stores in town. The brick buildings were called Coloma’s first fireproof structures. Their first store built in 1853, was known as “Weller’s Old Stand” with the “Sign of the large Coffee Pot.” The . . . — — Map (db m215519) HM
The Wells Fargo Company was organized in 1851 in San Francisco. Coloma’s office was opened in 1852 in McConnell’s general store. When the competing Adams Express Company folded in 1855, Wells Fargo soon became the dominant banking and express . . . — — Map (db m215362) HM
A large pentagon-shaped structure was built here in 1849. In 1850 it became the Roger’s Hotel, one of Coloma’s first major hotels. Ownership changed hands several times until 1852 when it became known as Wintermantel’s Miner's Hotel. A sign on the . . . — — Map (db m15673) HM
A large pentagon-shaped structure was built here in 1849. Ownership changed hands several times until 1852 when it became known as Wintermantel’s Miner’s Hotel. A sign on the balcony advertised in three languages:
Deutches . . . — — Map (db m215524) HM
The first store in Coloma, as well as the first store between Sutter’s Fort and Utah, was opened near this site in the summer of 1848 by Stephen Wright. It was built of lumber cut at Sutter’s Mill, on the foundation of a cabin planned for John . . . — — Map (db m215367) HM
This replica of Sutter’s Mill was based on research from many sources – a drawing by James Marshall, an old photograph of the mill, and the results of several excavations made on the original mill site. The building is 60 feet long, 20 feet wide, . . . — — Map (db m12206) HM
John Sutter’s mill was not used after 1850 and it deteriorated rapidly. The flood of 1862 destroyed what remained of the structure, but in 1924 the original mill site was discovered and the mill monument built. A major excavation in 1947 found these . . . — — Map (db m12222) HM
This rock monument marks site of John A. Sutter's saw mill in the tailrace of which James W. Marshall discovered gold, January 24, 1848, starting the great rush of argonauts to California. The Society of California Pioneers definitely located and . . . — — Map (db m39015) HM
Here in the Valley of the Cul-lum-mah Indians, James W. Marshall discovered gold on January 24, 1848, in the tailrace of Sutter’s sawmill. The Old Coloma Road, opened in 1847 from Sutter’s Fort to Coloma, was used by Marshall to carry the news of . . . — — Map (db m12272) HM
As miners exhausted the more easily-worked placer gold deposits in Sierra streams and gulches, they began to move into other likely areas. The miners tunnels horizontal drifts into hillsides, or using a method called “coyoting,” dug short vertical . . . — — Map (db m215204) HM
One of the oldest surviving structures in Coloma, this house was built in 1852 for Hugh Miller, proprietor of the Fashion Billiard Saloon on Main Street. Miller House has been renovated several times since then. From 1964 to 1983 it was the home of . . . — — Map (db m215641) HM
This serene location just in front of you is where the gold rush started. James Marshall stood right here in 1848 when he pulled small gold nuggets from the tailrace, his heart pounding with excitement. This spot was – and is – like no other.
No . . . — — Map (db m214882) HM
Even in 1849, Sutter’s Mill had become a beacon that called people to Coloma. People continue to visit Sutter’s Mill today to experience the sense of discovery and connection to the Gold Rush.
A Historic Destination
Curious tourists flocked . . . — — Map (db m214628) HM
Here on a chilly morning in January, 1848, carpenter James Marshall picked up the small pieces gold that touched off one of the largest, most frenzied mass migrations in history. Within a year of Marshall’s discovery, six thousand gold seekers . . . — — Map (db m17608) HM
Imagine news going viral in the age before the internet, before texting, before telephones. It would have to be pretty remarkable news to spread by print and word of mouth alone!
James Marshall’s gold discovery was just that. It promised a better . . . — — Map (db m215735) HM
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