Coloma is a town that will live in the history books for its role in the California Gold Rush. While the discovery of Gold at Sutter's Mill on January 24, 1848 was not the first gold discovery in the state, news of the discovery spread quickly and inspired people from around the world to seek their fortunes in California. While initially it was the few thousand settlers who were already in the state who rushed to the Sacramento Valley in search of gold, starting in late 1848 over 300,000 people migrated to California from the rest of the United States and abroad, leading to California achieving statehood just two short years later in 1850. During the Gold Rush it is estimated that miners extracted over 750,000 pounds (340,000 kg) of the precious metal, but while a few struck it rich mining for gold, to a large extent it was the shopkeepers and merchants like blue jeans maker Levi Strauss who truly became wealthy during this time.
Today, with a permanent population of only a few hundred people, the town is considered something of a ghost town due to its many abandoned buildings, including the old jail. Nearly 70% of the former town is now included in the 576 acres (233 ha) Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
- 1 Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, 310 Back St. Visitor Center open daily 10AM-5PM. This state historic spot marks the location where the California Gold Rush began in 1848, with the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill. Established in 1942, the park contains two California Historical Landmarks: a statue to commemorate James Marshall and the actual spot where he first discovered gold in 1848; the statue was the state's first historic monument and overlooks the site of the original gold discovery. Visitors can see a replica of the original sawmill and twenty other historic buildings including a mining exhibit, Chinese store exhibits and schoolhouse exhibit. Other activities include gold panning in the American River, hiking, and picnicking.
Coloma is a popular destination for whitewater rafting trips on the American River, with several outfitters based out of the town.
- 1 Mother Lode River Center, 6280 Hwy 49. Rafting is the destination sport for the Coloma valley. The South Fork of the American River continues to be one of North America's premier (and most popular) river trips. Mother Lode River Center can help arrange rafting trips.
- 2 Beyond Limits Adventures, 7321 River Park Dr (Highway 49 to River Park in Lotus), ☏ . 4. Class 3 River Rafting year round on California's South Fork of the American River. Guided tours depart daily. From $75.
- 1 Placerville - Placerville is a town that played a key role in the Gold Rush, with a historic downtown that hearkens back to when it was originally incorporated as California's third largest town in 1857. Travelers looking for a place to stop on the way from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe can visit the downtown and shop in the oldest continually operated hardware store west of the Mississippi, or learn about the area's history in a museum housed in a former soda works. In addition, the town hosts the El Dorado County Fair each Father's Day weekend, an event which has been held since 1859 and attracts about 65,000 visitors over its four day run.
- 2 Auburn - Auburn was established as a mining camp in 1849, and its rapid growth led to it becoming the county seat of Placer County just two years later in 1851. Today travelers can visit the historic downtown, including the Placer County Courthouse which now houses a museum. Outside of town, the Hidden Falls Regional Park boasts over 30 miles (48 km) of multi-use trails, and the Auburn State Recreation Area provides boating and hiking along 40 miles (64 km) of the North and Middle Forks of the American river. Other area trails host a variety of extreme endurance challenges each year, including the 100 mi (160 km) Western States Endurance Run.
|Routes through Coloma|
|Loyalton ← Auburn ←||N S||→ Placerville → Oakhurst|