Description - The park was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines." Between the 1850s and 1870s over one-half billion dollars in gold (at today's value) was mined in the area.
Copyright: - California State Parks
Columbia State Historic Park covered in snow
- The park was once known as the "Gem of the Southern Mines." Between the 1850s and 1870s over one-half billion dollars in gold (at today's value) was mined in the area. For a time, Columbia was the second largest city in California. Unlike many other settlements that disappeared due to fire, vandalism and time, Columbia survived. It was never completely deserted. In 1945 the State Legislature made the site a State Historic Park in order to preserve a typical Gold Rush town, an example of one of the most colorful eras in American history.
Recreation - The town's old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved, with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, hire a "fine steed" for a horseback ride through the "diggins," pan for gold, or tour an active gold mine.
Visitors can taste hand-dipped chocolates, a superior cup of coffee, or savor fine dining, family fare, or purchase picnic provisions. There's also the chance to relax at one of two comfortable hotels or listen to toe-tapping music in historic saloons. Visitors can make a candle or purchase Columbia made soap, wooden toys, old fashion clothes, or dress-up for a photograph. They can take a walk to the two-story brick school house and cemetery overlooking town, or hike the one-mile nature trail where mule deer and wild flowers can be seen.
Climate - At an elevation of 2,100 feet in the Sierra Nevada, summer days can be hot and evenings can cool down quickly. Winters are rainy, with snow at times. Gold County generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.