Brochure of Columbia State Historic Park (SHP) in California. Published by California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Our Mission Columbia State Historic Park The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Columbia, once known as the “Gem of the Southern Mines,” is a living gold rush town featuring the largest collection of gold-rush-era brick California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (209) 588-9128. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Discover the many states of California.™ Columbia State Historic Park 11255 Jackson Street Columbia, CA 95310 (209) 588-9128 © 2005 California State Parks (Rev. 2015) buildings in California. A midst the rugged oak woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills lies Columbia State Historic Park — once a busy, brawling gold rush town. The search for gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills offered hope and, for a fortunate few, riches. It drew prospectors from all over the world and of every nationality, including California Indians. Besides digging and panning for gold, they bought, sold and traded to try to make their fortunes. The authentic mid-nineteenth century backdrop of Columbia remains today to tell the colorful stories of these miners and merchants. PARK HISTORY Native People For thousands of years, Indian people resided in the valleys, foothills and mountains of Central California. The Central Sierra Miwok lived in the Columbia area. Traditional Miwok culture was sensitive to the land and changing seasons, which sustained and guided their daily activities. Large, multifamily villages were located in clearings near oak groves and dependable water sources. Acorns were a major part of their diet, supplemented by fish, birds, deer, small game, insects and native plants. Evidence of camps and grinding rocks can still be seen in or near oak groves. The native people’s way of life was drastically altered when newcomers to the area introduced diseases and increased warfare in the region. Despite the devastating malaria epidemic of 1833 and abuses and deaths suffered during the gold rush, the descendants of native Miwok and Yokuts Indian people survive today. “Columbia” on April 29, 1850. By 1852 more than 150 stores, shops, saloons and other business enterprises were operating in Columbia. The town also had three churches, a meeting hall, a Masonic Lodge and a branch of the Sons of Temperance. A Diverse Population Miners from the nearby towns of Chinese resident of Columbia (ca. 1890) Sonora and Jamestown were the first to arrive. Two-thirds of the miners were Mexican, but by the summer of 1850, many had left Columbia due to the Columbia’s Beginning exclusionary Foreign Miner’s Tax, which On March 27, 1850, a group of prospectors required foreign-born miners to pay the state discovered gold here. Passing through this $20 a month for the privilege of mining. Like area, Dr. Thaddeus Hildreth, his brother many mining towns, by 1852 Columbia had George, John Walker and others were caught a sizeable population of Chinese, French, in a rainstorm. While drying out their gear, Irish, Italian, German and Jewish miners and Walker decided to try his luck in the nearby merchants who contributed to the growing gulch. Within six weeks his findings attracted cultural and ethnic diversity of Columbia. thousands of miners. Their crowded camp Lithograph of Columbia (ca. 1855) of log cabins and canvas tents, known as by Towle and Leavitt. Hildreth’s Diggings, was formally renamed Courtesy of the Bancroft Library. Pit placer mining, Columbia (ca. 1860-1870) Water and Fire Water was essential for placer mining. In a dry “diggins” like Columbia in 1850, when the seasonal rains were gone most of the miners left. In June 1851 the Tuolumne County Water Company was formed to transport water from the Stanislaus River about 20 miles away. The company engineered and built a complex system of wooden flumes, pipes and ditches to convey river water to Columbia. Its high water rates sparked a competitor in 1854 — the Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Company. This company of miners was determined to build a 60-mile aqueduct known as the Miner’s Ditch to supply water more cheaply. However, before its completion, the threat of bankruptcy prompted the sale of the system to the Tuolumne County Water Company. Water was also extremely important for fire protection in the booming town. Columbia’s first fire — in 1854 — destroyed six city blocks, leaving the only brick building, the Donnell and Parsons store, standing at the corner of Main and Washington streets. After the fire, a company called the New England Water Company constructed seven cisterns beneath the streets of Columbia to hold water for domestic and fire-fighting use. A square lid to one of these cisterns may be seen today in front of the firehouse on State Street. The town was quickly rebuilt using locally produced red brick. In 1857 another fire struck Columbia’s downtown, leaving only brick buildings with thick walls and iron shutters intact. Mining With improved water delivery to Columbia, miners began to employ more efficient mining methods in their quest for gold. In some places, open pit placer mining operations removed more than 60 feet of dirt and washed it through a system of sluices to remove the gold. Using water power, the miners hoisted gravel from deep placer deposits to higher ground, where it could be processed using hydraulic methods. The result of their efforts left expansive limestone formations, visible today below the main parking lot. The diggins were enormously productive, at times averaging $100,000 or more per week. Columbia, “Gem of the Southern Mines” By 1853, Columbia was one of the largest cities in California, with an estimated population of 25,000 to 30,000. Between 1850 and the early 1900s, as much as $150 million in gold was mined here. Gold from Columbia helped to finance the United States government and the Union Army during the Civil War. As mining dwindled in the late 1860s, Columbia began to decline. Miners tore down the vacated buildings and mined vacant lots in search of gold in the crevices of the limestone bedrock on which the town was built. Today While Columbia never became a ghost town, by the 1940s the buildings had deteriorated to the point that many were considered unsafe. When Columbia became a state park in 1945, restoration efforts began on the 150-year-old structures to capture and preserve their historic value. Today Columbia State Historic Park contains the state’s largest collection of gold-rush-era structures. These 19th-century buildings continue to tell the stories of Columbia’s enterprising miners and merchants. Classroom in the historic schoolhouse Weather The town is located at an elevation of 2,100 feet. Summer days are usually hot, with temperatures sometimes reaching into the 100s. Winters can be rainy, with snow at times. Accessible Features • The main streets of Columbia are mostly level, but shops and structures are on raised boardwalks. • Assistance is usually available to open historic doors and cross high thresholds or to reach sales items and counters. Most merchants have portable ramps available by request; look for window signs indicating availability. • Assistance may be needed at the Columbia Museum entry or along its sloped boardwalk. • Accessible parking is designated in lots near Columbia and Jackson streets, at Main and Jackson streets, at the Lower Lot at Columbia and Washington streets, and at the Old Columbia Schoolhouse. • Accessible restrooms are at the Lower Lot, the Jack Douglass Saloon and at the Old Columbia Schoolhouse, behind the museum. • An accessible trail leads from Washington Street to the lower parking lot restrooms. PLEASE REMEMBER Businesses are generally open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Restaurants, saloons, hotels and the theatre stay open later. Park exhibits and businesses are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. PUBLIC TOURS Free town tours led by docents and staff are offered on weekends at 11 a.m. The tour begins at the museum and takes about an hour. Ask about additional programs at the museum desk. LIVING HISTORY EVENTS During Columbia’s Gold Rush Days, docents in period attire lead programs and offer hands-on activities throughout the park. Many special exhibits are open. This unique event is offered from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Come visit a replica of the original tent town of 1852, and interact with miners, businessmen and artisans portrayed by costumed docents and staff during Columbia Diggins, held annually the weekend after Memorial Day. Many other special events are offered throughout the year by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, park concessionaires and community groups. For more information, visit www.columbiacalifornia.com. SPECIAL SCHOOL PROGRAMS School groups are welcome at Columbia, and there is no charge for admission or parking. The park’s many concessionaires offer special programs to enhance your visit. Please contact the businesses individually or refer to the Chamber website. Park staff and volunteers offer a special two-hour museum and schoolhouse program. Children are invited to step into the past to fill the seats of 19th-century students. For information, call (209) 588-9128. The park also participates in the California State Parks PORTS program, bringing the story of gold mining to classrooms throughout the state via the internet. Details may be found at http://ports.parks.ca.gov. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Calaveras Big Trees State Park, 1170 East Hwy. 4, Arnold 95223 (209) 795-2334 • Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, one mile south on 5th Ave. off Hwy. 108 Jamestown 95327 (209) 984-3953 Stagecoach rides down Main Street Legend This park is supported in part by a nonprofit organization. For more information, contact: Friends of Columbia State Historic Park P. O. Box 367 • Columbia, CA 95310 www.friendsofcolumbiashp.org Streets Pedestrian-Only Streets Trail Fence Accessible Feature 2 State Parks District Office 24 Dentist’s Office Exhibit 45 3 Fallon Hotel/Theatre/Ice Cream Parlor 25 Questai Historic Building 46 Chinese Store Exhibit 4 Columbia Gazette Newspaper Office 26 Towle & Leavitt Dry Goods 47 Bowling Saloon Exhibit 5 Eagle Cotage*/Park Office 27 Browns Coffee House & Sweets Saloon 48 Knapp Store – Columbia Museum Information 6 Masonic Hall Exhibit 28 City Hotel Restaurant, Lodging & Saloon 49 Livery Stable Exhibit Gate 7 Miners Cabin Interpretive Site 29 Gazebo/Flag Pole/Drinking Fountain 50 Parrott’s Blacksmith Shop Old Building Foundation 30 51 Fancy Dry Goods & Clothing Store 9 Wells Fargo Exhibit The California Store Exhibit at the Franco Cabin Parking 8 52 10 Stage Office – Quartz Mountain Stage Line 31 Chicken Coop Historic Barber Shop Location – Kamice’s Photographic Establishment 11 Assay Office Exhibit 32 The Presbyterian Church of the 49er 53 12 D.O. Mills Building – Umpqua Bank 33 Old Columbia Schoolhouse and Exhibit Franklin-Wolfe Variety Store – Columbia Booksellers & Stationers Konrad’s Garage – Seven Sisters Candle and Soap Works 34 Aunt Sally’s House & Garden 54 Garden Courtyard – Candle Dipping Park Building 13 35 Claverie-Chinese Store Ruins 55 Tibbits House Exhibit Non-Park Building 14 Jack Douglass Saloon, Food & Beverages 36 Bixel Brewery, Food and Beverages 56 Martinez House Exhibit & Garden 15 Soderer & Marshall, North – Justice Court Exhibit 37 Burns Cottage & Garden 57 Koch Cabin 16 Columbia Candy Kitchen 38 Boehmer-Solari Building – Artificers’ Exchange 58 Wagon Barn Pioneer Emporium Barbecue Pits Matelot Gulch Gold Panning 19 Columbia House Restaurant 41 Jail 61 Miners Cabin in the Rocks Exhibit 20 Angelo’s Hall 42 Firehouse Columbia Engine Company #1 62 Mining Equipment Exhibit 21 Odd Fellows Historic Building 43 Wilson-McConnell House 63 Columbia Diggin’s Tent Town Site 22 Firehouse Tuolumne Engine Company #1 To Highway 4 (9 miles), Calaveras Big Trees SP (29 miles) rr y Ro 48 Stree Street 17 11 7 ngt 4 55 La Grange 49 54 56 o 5 Street Columbia yn Ha t Main Stree ARY (ap prox T BOUN D t gto t nS r Columbia Diggins Tent Town Site Lower Lot To Sonora (4 miles), Railtown 1897 SHP (8 miles) Fulton Street P 60 l Road Historical Monument 59 et Yankee Hil 57 10 re treet Fulton Street in Wash Bus Stop NF Mariposa son S ATM Historical Monument 140 Sierra Lake McClure Jack ee Stanislaus NF to Yosemite NP 9 t nS Street 120 Don Pedro Reservoir State Park District Office 58 52 53 ATM Yosemite NP Groveland to Sacramento Turlock 99 Turlock Lake to Los Angeles 50 Pinecrest Sonora tch State Str eet Columbia SHP Railtown 1897 SHP Di 61 0 0 100 25 200 50 300 Feet 75 62 3 100 Meters ro ar tt s F y e rr National Landmark Plaque R o ad St Anne’s Catholic Church C h a o il t St An n Gold Discovery Site Plaque e’s treet i Wash 8 Oakdale Modesto 30 Kilometers Stanislaus NF Angels Camp 108 Jamestown 120 20 Calaveras Big Trees SP es S ch ur 6 Bus Stop Historical Monument 14 12 Museum 51 16 15 13 San Andreas New Hogan Res 10 20 Miles 4 Tulloch Res to San Francisco 49 18 Broadway Gold 19 20 2 46 47 4 Street 45 State Street 0 Jackson 49 44 43 Columbia t 27 26 25 41 42 88 10 reet 29 24 23 38 Comanche Res Main Stree 22 39 Ione 88 0 Gold St 40 tc h 28 21 49 ATM 30 t Ha y ne i sD 37 ATM see Main Street Area detail map lower left Tr 31 MAIN STREET AREA 36 treet 32 Historical Monument The Presbyterian Church of the 49er 35 son S State Park District Office Street 34 Broadway Gold Street To Schoolhouse Jack ic Str eet et Pacific The Presbyterian Church of the 49er Pacif ad Green St re ARK DI STRIC Closes at 4:30 p.m. Tra il Fe *Historic misspelling from an 1855 lithograph of Columbia’s important buildings. LANDM 60 u se Columbia Mercantile, Provisions & Grocery d o l ho 40 Old Columbia 33 Schoolhouse Roa c ho Meyer’s Building – Columbia Men’s Emporium son to S 18 Hud reet State Park Sector Office Stairs tts 39 Columbia Cemetery Restrooms rro Native Sons of the Golden West Exhibit Picnic Area Pa 17 59 imate) Drinking Water AL HIST ORIC Ebler’s Leather and Saddle Emporium Italian Bar Road 44 Hayne Drug Store Exhibit s Ditch Limestone Outcrops 23 Gold St St. Anne’s Catholic Church 1 N AT I O N KEY TO DETAILED MAP Kar en Me m B a k er v o ri al i N at l l e S m ur e i t Tra h il State Historic Park School House Street Columbia 1 P 63 Columbia Diggins Tent Town Site National Landmark Plaque Gold Discovery Site Plaque N AT © 2007 California State Parks (Rev. 2015) Map by Eureka Cartography, Berkeley, CA IONA ST L HI ORIC LAN DM DIST ARK RICT BOU NDA app RY ( roxim ate) This map depicts California State Parks facilities and two historic churches — St. Anne’s Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church of the 49er. Other buildings within the National Historic Landmark District are either privately owned or not open to the public.