Marshall Gold Discovery
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Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park Our Mission 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. “ Monday 24th. This day some kind of mettle was found in the tail race that looks like goald, first discovered by James Martial, the Boss of the Mill.” California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (530) 622-3470. 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 Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park Hwy. 49/Coloma Road at Bridge Street PO Box 265, Coloma, CA 95613 (530) 622-3470 www.parks.ca.gov/marshallgold © 2004 California State Parks (Rev. 2017) — from Henry Bigler’s Diary, January 1848 A long California’s historic Highway 49, tucked neatly into a beautifully forested valley in the Sierra foothills, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park straddles the South Fork of the American River. Here, on January 24, 1848, James Marshall found gold flakes in the tailrace and sparked one of history’s largest human migrations. Photo courtesy of California State Library, Sacramento, California their home along the American River “Cullumah,” now known as Coloma. As “river people,” they enjoyed an abundance of freshwater fish as well as waterfowl, elk, deer, and small game and lived on a staple diet of acorns, seeds, and fruits. The hollowed-out holes in a large bedrock in the park — the last remaining evidence of the native people’s original presence here — show how they processed the acorns that Sutter’s Mill replica formed their main diet. Until they met fur trappers in the late PARK HISTORY 1820s, the native people had little contact Native People with the outside world. By the late 1830s, For thousands of years, the Nisenan and however, diseases introduced by the foothill Miwok people built their domenewcomers had nearly decimated shaped houses and cedar bark structures the native people. When gold was in villages along the streams and discovered along the American River tributaries that drained into the in the Coloma Valley, hordes of goldAmerican, Cosumnes, Bear, seekers seized control of the California and Yuba rivers. They called Indians’ fishing and gathering sites. By 1849, the remaining native people who Watercolor of an Eastern had survived the combined hardships Miwok woman fashioning a of disease and conflicts with settlers seed-gathering basket, had dispersed to more remote foothills by Seth Eastman and valleys. A few turned to mining, and some went to work for John Sutter. January 24, 1848 — GOLD DISCOVERY John Sutter was founder of “New Helvetia” — later named Sacramento — and a vast agricultural empire in the Sacramento Valley. He partnered with James W. Marshall to go into the Artwork courtesy of W. Duncan and Nevin MacMillan, and Afton Historical Society Press lumber business. They selected Coloma Valley, 45 miles east of Sutter’s fort, as a mill site because it had a river for power and stands of large ponderosa pine trees for lumber. As equal partners, Sutter would furnish the capital and Marshall would oversee the mill’s construction and daily operation. In the fall of 1847, Marshall began construction of the mill with a labor force that included local Indians and members of the U.S. Army Mormon Battalion. A low dam was built across the river to direct part of the stream into the diversion channel that would carry it through the mill. By January of the next year, the mill was ready to be tested. However, the tailrace, which carried water away from the mill, was too shallow, backing up water and preventing the mill wheel from turning properly. To deepen John A. Sutter the tailrace, each day the Indian laborers loosened the rock. At night, water was allowed to run through the ditch to wash away the loose debris from that day’s diggings. On the morning of January 24, 1848, while inspecting the millrace, Marshall spotted some shiny flecks in the tailrace. l, workers readily gave him a tithe He scooped them up fighting alongside the Americans during of the gold they had found. When and pounded them with their conquest of California in 1846, he Brannan visited San Francisco a rock; he then placed returned home to discover his cattle strayed in May, he paraded the streets them in the crown of or stolen. He met again with John Sutter, waving a quinine bottle full of who gave him the task of finding a site to his hat and hurried to gold, shouting, “Gold! Gold! Gold build their new sawmill. announce his find to from the American River!” By the the others. With Marshall’s gold discovery, the sawmill end of May, San Francisco was Marshall told the mill at Coloma quickly lost its sleepy, peaceful reported to be “half empty” as workers, “Boys, by God, aspect. In July 1848, the area’s population its able-bodied men departed I believe I’ve found a had jumped to 1,000. That December, for the mines. The excitement gold mine.” When Mr. flooding caused Sutter to sell his interest grew when an army officer Scott — a carpenter in the mill, and Marshall took on two carried a tea caddy full working on the mill new partners. Later, management of gold to Washington, wheel — disputed his problems entangled the mill in claim, Marshall replied legal difficulties, and after 1850 it Early drawing of Sutter’s Mill, D.C. Shortly after ca. 1849 President James K. positively, “I know it was abandoned. Marshall spent Polk confirmed the to be nothing else.” the next few years searching for rumors, thousands joined the Marshall again pounded it on a rock, and the more gold, with little success. In trek to the Gold Country. cook, Jenny Wimmer, boiled it in lye soap. It 1857 he bought fifteen acres of passed all their tests — it was pure gold. land in Coloma for $15 and built JAMES MARSHALL’s story Four days later Marshall rode to the fort a cabin near the Catholic church. In the late 1830s, New Jersey with samples of the gold. Sutter consulted Investing in new and exotic varieties native James Marshall traveled his encyclopedia, tried various tests, and of grapevines, he planted a vineyard James Wilson Marshall west to Missouri, where he confirmed Marshall’s conclusion. Mindful on the hillside above the cemetery, as drawn in 1849 worked as a carpenter and of their investment in the mill, they agreed dug a cellar, and began to make wine farmer along the Missouri River. to keep the news secret until the mill was for sale. By 1860 his vines were doing so When his doctor advised him to seek a in operation. After all, this was not the first well that his entry in the county fair received healthier climate, Marshall joined a wagon time gold had been discovered in California, an award, but in the late 1860s, a series of train bound for Oregon in 1844. In June and no one assumed that this find was setbacks sent him prospecting again. 1845, he headed for California with a small particularly important. During this time, Marshall became part party of settlers. But it was a secret that could not be owner of a quartz mine near Kelsey. Hoping He arrived at Sutter’s fort in July and was kept. In a letter to General Mariano Vallejo, to raise funds to develop the mine, he immediately hired as a wheelwright and Sutter bragged about the discovery. went on a lecture tour, only to find himself carpenter. Craftsmen with his experience Mormon elder Sam Brannan, who operated stranded, penniless, in Kansas City. In a were scarce in California. Marshall a general store at the fort, went to the mill philanthropic gesture, Leland Stanford purchased a ranch on Butte Creek, but after to see for himself. Several Mormon mill paid Marshall’s fare to New Jersey, where Photo by Betty Sederquist he visited his mother and sister. After a few months, he returned to Kelsey and moved into the Union Hotel. For his role in the Gold Rush, in 1872 the State Legislature awarded Marshall a $200 monthly pension for two years. He paid some debts and equipped a blacksmith shop in Kelsey. The pension was halved for the next four years; it ended in 1878 amid criticism of Marshall’s personal habits — namely his weakness for liquor. Marshall continued to work in his blacksmith shop and in the small gold mines he owned near Kelsey. He died at age 75 on August 10, 1885; his grave sits on the hillside above the town. In 1890 a monumental statue — California’s first State Historic Monument — was commissioned and placed on the hill overlooking the gold discovery site to mark the location of Marshall’s grave. early. By 1857 many miners had left, but a few Chinese miners remained to work the placer sites. Two structures used by the Chinese remain in the park today — the Man Lee building, which housed a Chinese trading and banking company as well as a hardware store, and the Wah Hop Store, once leased to a Chinese merchant of that name. They currently house exhibits of gold mining techniques and the mercantile goods needed by the Chinese miners. The Monroe family: William, Grant, Pearley, Andrew Jr. (top); Cordelia, James, Andrew Sr., Sarah (middle); Garfield (bottom) was called Gum San — “Gold Mountain.” Chinese workers, lured to California by a promised Chinese Immigrants golden mountain from which they could News of Marshall’s gold discovery spread literally carve out their fortune, were fleeing throughout the world. In China, California years of war and poverty. Chinese miners at Coloma — thought to have numbered about 50 — were so efficient at finding gold that other miners complained of a “Chinese invasion.” Hostilities among the miners helped spark discriminatory taxes and laws that were enforced only against “foreign” immigrant miners. The easy-to-find placer Living history participant The Wah Hop building — gold at Coloma played out at Gold Rush Live a Gold Rush-era Chinese store African American Settlers According to the Gooch-Monroe oral history, Peter and Nancy Gooch came to Coloma as slaves in 1849. In 1850 California was admitted to the union as a free state, so Peter and Nancy gained their freedom. Peter Gooch worked in construction and at odd jobs, and Nancy did domestic chores for the miners. By 1861 Nancy had saved enough money to buy freedom for her son, Andrew Monroe, “A frenzy had seized my soul. . . piles of gold rose up before me at every step; castles of marbel. . . thousands of slaves. . . myriads of fair virgins. . . the Rothschilds, Girards, and Astors appeared to me but poor people.” Diary of J.H. Carson, 1852 had been transferred to nearby Placerville. By then, the Chinese were almost the only miners working the gravel bars near the discovery site; Coloma again became a peaceful community with an economic base of agriculture and transportation. Cemetery and James Marshall’s cabin who was still a slave in Missouri. Andrew brought his wife, Sarah, and their three children to Coloma, where they became respected farmers. In the 1940s, the State purchased some of the Monroe landholdings from Andrew Monroe’s son, Pearley, which included the original site of Sutter’s Mill and the site of Marshall’s gold discovery — the foundation of today’s park. The entire Gooch-Monroe family is buried in the park’s Pioneer Cemetery. Coloma, Queen of the Mines In the wake of the hopeful gold seekers came merchants, doctors, lawyers, gamblers, ministers — purveyors of all services required to supply a miner and relieve him of his burdensome gold dust. From Coloma, the miners moved up the canyons and into the mountains. With each new strike, and as the placer gold gave out, Coloma declined in population. By 1857 the El Dorado County seat However, when James Marshall spotted shiny metal in the mill’s tailrace, he gave rise to California’s current culturally diverse and technologically advanced population. The Park had gold not been discovered Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, California had been a pastoral backwater and created in 1942, encompasses most of the wilderness in 1848. Nine days after Marshall’s historic town of Coloma. With about 300 fateful discovery — at the conclusion of the Mexicanyear-round residents in the Coloma area, American War — the United States had been the tree-lined streets of the park are usually granted this land as part of a treaty. Its non-Indian quiet, shady, and serene. Most visitors and population was about 14,000. At the time, only a few students come during spring, summer, and fall hundred overland pioneers had found ways to bring or for special events year-round, including the their wagon trains across the deserts and mountains annual January 24 celebration of Marshall’s to California. But that all changed with the discovery gold discovery. of gold. A number of historic buildings and Between 1848 and 1852, the world’s fascination sites — including the working blacksmith shop, with California caused its population to grow to more the Price-Thomas and Papini homes, the than 200,000. Few “Forty-Niners” intended to remain Mormon, James Marshall and Miner’s cabins, in California permanently — most had come to seek and the Indian bedrock mortar — remain to their fortune and then return home. But many sent remind us of that tumultuous period. One for their families and stayed, while others returned outstanding attraction of the park is the later to become permanent residents. full-sized replica of Sutter’s sawmill. The Over the next 50 years, roughly 125 million ounces original, abandoned and torn down for its of gold taken from the lumber, disappeared in the flood of hills had a critical effect 1862. The replica, looking much like on California’s early the original, was recently rebuilt near development. Had gold the discovery site. Some of the original not been discovered, mill’s timbers, reclaimed from the river, California’s climate, are displayed nearby. Gold panning resources, and location activities take place year-round. might have been ignored The Gold Discovery Museum for a much longer time. and Other Exhibits There would have been Exhibits in the Gold Discovery little interest in building a Museum tell the story of John transcontinental railroad to Sutter and James Marshall, and how bind the nation together. Cooking demonstration Photo by Ric Horner momentous discovery, his original mill site, and points of interest. Visitors can walk under native California trees, as well as the Chinese tree of heaven, black locust, Texas mesquite, southern pecan, Osage orange, persimmon, and others planted by homesick miners as reminders of their former dwellings. St. John’s church, built in 1856 1858 St. John’s Church drastically the simple act of noticing a small fleck of gold would alter the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from that day to the present. The museum also has Indian and Gold Rush-era exhibits, including mining equipment, horse-drawn vehicles, household implements and other memorabilia, as well as films about the gold discovery and early mining techniques. Next door to the museum are an outdoor mining exhibit and two original buildings used by the Chinese. Throughout the park, the exhibits show the various standards of living as Coloma developed through time. The Gold Discovery Loop Trail makes it easy to visit the site of Marshall’s Accessible Features Trails — The Levee Trail is generally accessible. The Gold Discovery Loop Trail is mostly level on hard-packed soil; some slopes may require assistance. Picnicking — The North Beach group picnic area has accessible tables, with accessible restrooms and parking nearby. The picnic tables near the Wah Hop Store and Man Lee exhibits may require assistance. Exhibits — The accessible Gold Discovery Museum has restrooms, self-guided exhibits, and an audio-visual theater. Video captioning is also available. Parking and restrooms are accessible throughout the park. Accessibility is continually improving. For updates, visit http://access.parks.ca.gov. Please Remember • Park, museum, and historic building hours and interpretive programs vary by season. Please check the current schedule at the museum/ visitor center or visit the park’s website. • Call the park to arrange to have your wedding in either of the park’s historic churches or on the park’s grounds. • There is no camping in the park, but the Coloma and Lotus communities have several private campgrounds and stores. • Recreational gold panning (with hands and pan only), is allowed in designated areas. • Help keep the park clean. The park has limited trash facilities. Whatever you bring in, please take out with you. • Stay on the trails — shortcuts destroy ground cover and speed erosion. The river shoreline has submerged obstacles and an uneven bottom, and the water level and flow change quickly and often. Diving and jumping from rocks is not permitted. • Dogs must be on a leash and, except for service animals, are not permitted in historic buildings, outside of developed areas, or on beaches. • All natural and cultural features are protected by law and may not be disturbed or removed. • To guarantee access to the park, groups of ten or more must make advance reservations. For more information call (866) 240-4655 or visit the website at www.parks.ca.gov/marshallgold. 10 00 ' 960 ' 920' 800' 760' 720' to Auburn 880 880 ' 840' ' 880' Marshall Gold Discovery 840' 0 400 200 600 100 0 0' P Lev So 1000 Feet 800 300 Meters 200 Kelsey North Beach State Historic Park ' 20 84 Hand Launch 9 88 0' Tra il h Bus Parking 49 P 96 For 0' ut ee k 0' 0 10 Monroe Orchard Ca rv er Rd ion al idg St e Br ' 00 10 oa d ta Monro (no Trail P t. M ur ph R y M t. Coloma Resort (Private) Park Headquarters tra Wagon Exhibit 760' d Bekeart Gun Shop Coloma Greys il) Argonaut Post Office Monroe House Blacksmith Shop Beer M Bell’s Ba ai Garden n ck Store St St re Ruins re e Weller House P et t e Nature Center Jail Ruins I.O.O.F. Hall et re St Hi 49 Church Parking Lot Marshall’s Cabin James Marshall Monument 11 ’ 00 1080' 10 Road narrows— not suitable for buses or large vehicles. (one way Church and High streets are not suitable for buses or large vehicles. C h u rc St. John’s Church ' 800 Williams House h S tr ee t Emmanuel Church P 49 Catholic Cemetery P to Placerville Co ld Sp rin gs 20' Market Ro ad P 0' 760' Coloma Schoolhouse gh Monumen il Tra Price-Thomas House P Papini House t ge 6 11 Rd Gold Discovery Museum eR Fir 10 e ' 40 yn g 10 ' 80 Ba ni n ' 0' 80 P an n M Miner’s Cabin ' Rid ld s t e ep , use cautio Grange Man Lee Mining Exhibit 00 20 11 P Sutter’s Mill Timber Display Wah Hop Store PA R K 0' y Rd ph ur M ver il) P Native American Bedrock Mortar S TAT E H I S T O R I C 6 11 Go Ri a tra y er ov sc l Di Trai ld p Go Loo (not G O L D D I S C O V E RY Park Maintenance Br e St we re ry et e MARSHALL 12 0' reat nro e 84 Re c Mo dg rican Sutter’s Mill Replica and Monument Trail Ri Ame Gold Discovery Site P ) P Monument Picnic Area Mo nu me 840' nt Ro ad Pioneer Cemetery Olde Coloma Theatre P 12 40 ' 880' 1276 ft 10 ' 00 ' 1040' 00 12 1120' ' 1120 1040' 1160' 100 0' Gate Unpaved Road Group Picnic Area Trail: Hike Trail: Accessible Accessible Feature Hand Launch Crosswalk Park Building P 960' ad 1080' 920' Paved Road Ro This park receives support in part through a nonprofit organization. For more information contact: Gold Discovery Park Association P.O. Box 461, Coloma, CA 95613 (530) 622-6198 • www.marshallgold.com Legend C o l d S p ri n g s 1080' 1160' Parking Picnic Area 1000' Restrooms Viewpoint © 2003 California State Parks (Rev. 2017) 10 40 '