If you ever wanted to find out what it was like to live during the Gold-Rush era, head to Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia, California.
Between 1850 and the 1870s, more than $1 billion worth of gold in today’s dollars was mined in the area. Today, Columbia is a lively town focused on recreating that golden era. Walk down the streets, and you’ll see a stagecoach hand loading up passengers. Browse some of the 1850s-era shops and dine at a restaurant, and you’ll find the proprietors dressed up in 1850s-era clothing. You can even spend the night at the historic City Hotel or Fallon Hotel. Rumor has it there’s a friendly ghost named Elizabeth who occasionally makes appearances in the City Hotel. You just might feel her eyes on you as you walk past the hotel.
To truly relive the Gold Rush days, try your luck in the park’s gold panning troughs, situated next to an unusual array of boulders you can explore. With sparkling rocks to sort through, it’s the kind of activity that can keep kids captive for a long time.
“These panning troughs and those rocks over there are the best babysitters in town,” says Michael Linan as he helps a child learn how to correctly use her pan. “Hang up your spurs. You’ll be here for awhile.”
For more information:
Columbia State Historic Park
11255 Jackson Street Columbia CA, 95310
Columbia is a real town; it never actually closes. Most businesses are open from 10:00am to 5:00pm.