The Afternoon News with Kitty O'Neal

The Afternoon News with Kitty O'Neal

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Commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the Gold Discovery Saturday 1/21

A replica of Sutter’s Mill at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.Photo: Photo from California State Parks.

Listen: Holly Thane, Interpreter at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park

California State Parks invites the public to commemorate the 175th anniversary of James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (SHP) this Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gold Discovery Day, which was inaugurated in Coloma in 1948 on the centennial of the discovery, will include activities and living history demonstrations throughout the park.

In 1848, Marshall found shining flecks of gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building in partnership with John Sutter. The discovery in present-day Coloma sparked California’s famous gold rush and led to the greatest voluntary mass migration of people in the Western Hemisphere. 

The town of Coloma's name is derived from a Native American word, Cullumah, meaning “beautiful valley.” California Native Americans were the majority labor force initially involved in gold mining. Some of the first people traveling from abroad to reach the gold fields around Coloma were experienced miners from Sonora, Mexico, and South America. Those traveling from even further distances to reach the gold fields included people from Australia, China, and across Europe. Coloma developed into a supply hub for the region's gold mining operations for several decades and managed to survive the boom and bust of most other townsites. Generations of settlers, like a number of noteworthy African American families, made long-lasting contributions to the town's continued prosperity with their businesses and agricultural enterprises. All these efforts helped keep Coloma alive long after miners had moved on to other opportunities.

WHAT:     175th Commemoration of Gold Discovery Day

WHEN:     Saturday, January 21, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (rain or shine)

WHERE:   Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

                  310 Back Street, Coloma, (95613)

       On HWY 49 between Placerville and Auburn, 1-hour from Sacramento


  • 10 a.m. – The 175th- commemoration kicks off with a special message from State Parks Director Armando Quintero.
  • 10:30 a.m. – Hear first-hand accounts of the gold discovery from the “people” who witnessed it -- James Marshall, John Sutter, Jennie Wimmer, Sam Brannan and Henry Bigler.
  • 11 a.m. – Barney Noel, past grand president of the Native Sons of the Golden West Placerville Parlor, will share the history of the Native Sons and how they have helped preserve California’s historic sites including the Marshall Monument.
  • 11:30 a.m. – New volunteer meet and greet at the visitor center. Learn more about the volunteer program at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
    • Watch timber framing demonstrations and learn about the construction methods used to build the original Sutter’s Mill and the reproduction sawmill.
    • Learn about mining techniques and the life of a miner.
    • Find out why so many traveled so far to reach the gold fields.
    • Learn how people traveled to the gold fields.
    • Enjoy kids’ games and activities for the entire family.
    • Watch blacksmithing demonstrations.


Gold Discovery Day is presented by Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and the Gold Discovery Park Association. Parking is $10 per vehicle. In case of rain, all activities will be held at the visitor center. For more information, please call (530) 622-3470.

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