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School Programs


Teaching in the school house


The staff, volunteers and concessionaires at Columbia State Historic Park take great pride in the quality of our school presentations.  We offer a variety of opportunities for school children to have first-hand experiences to augment classroom learning about the California Gold Rush.  Over 15,000 4th graders attend presentations at Columbia State Historic Park each year.

Parking and admission are free, and school groups are welcome to visit the park at any time for self-guided presentations.  The park’s concessionaires offer many programs desgned for school audiences.  The Columbia Passport, a self-guided touring aid, is available at the museum, or may be ordered in advance of your trip for $1 each. The park staff and volunteers offer three different formal programs aimed at the 4th-grade audience the meet California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content.  Financial support for these programs is provided by Friends of Columbia State Historic Park.

Click HERE for 2017/2018 student specials through our concessionaires!

2017/2018 Online registration for ALL school programs through the park will open August 22th at 6:00am at For more information about reservations, call (209) 588-9128.

Gold Trek

2018 DATES March 8th,15th & 22nd and April 5th, 12th and 19th

This is a unique program offered just a few Thursdays each spring.  After a series of in-class programs led by the teacher and based on pre-visit activities in the accompanying teacher’s guide, the students arrive at the park prepared for their Gold Trek.  At the school, the students have baked hard-tack and created journals. When they arrive at the park, the companies participate in an auction where they have the opportunity to spend or save their money, purchase maps, carts, supplies and shovels, and start on their journey.  Along the route to the gold fields, they encounter charlatains, merchants, ferry crossings, and opportunities to make critical decisions that impact their ability to arrive at the diggin’s ready to work.

This program is meant to replicate the experience that many young gold seekers faced as they traveled from Stockton to the diggings in search of gold. 

In 2018, we will continue to have three different start times, 9:30am, 10:00am, and 10:30am. 35 students maximum are allowed per start time. The program takes approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours. We have revised the start time to better serve each group and avoid long wait times at both the beginning and end of the program.

 This program costs $3.50 per student, and takes approximately 3 hours. 
Mark your calendars! Reservations can be made online at beginning August 22nd at 6:00am for the 2017/2018 school year. 


Schoolhouse Living History Program and Town Tour




Look for 2018 information below!

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensive Gold Rush field trip depending on time constraints and interest.

The Town Tour consists of a 1-hour program led by park staff starting at the museum and discussing Columbia and the Gold Rush, including the role of fire in the development of Gold Rush towns, the routes miners and merchants took to get to California, where they came from, and how they made their livings in Columbia. Included in the town tour program is a hands-on mining demonstration or general mercantilism presentation.

The Schoolhouse Program is a 1-hour program at the 1861 historic brick schoolhouse where a costumed schoolteacher presents a program using the methods and tools of the 1861 classroom. History lessons, spelling, reading and math are covered in the program. Students will use slateboards and chalk and learn what school was like for students in the Gold Rush.

The cost for each program is $30.  Reservations may be made online at beginning August 22nd at 6:00am. 


Columbia Diggins Tent Town Education Days-May 18-19, 2017

Columbia Tent Town education Days

May 17th, 18th, 2018

Each year, docents and staff recreate an early tent town to demonstrate theLaundry daily life of Gold Rush mining camps.   Special educational programs for 4th graders are offered on the Thursday and Friday of Columbia Diggins Tent Town.  Students get a chance to tour the camp and interact with characters from 1852. 

This program adheres to the state’s curriculum standards, and provides an unbeatable opportunity for students to experience first-hand what they’ve learned in the classroom.  This program is very popular, and reservations are required. 

2018 Mark your calendars! Reservations can be made first-come, first serve, beginning August 22nd at 6:00am at    The cost is $5/student, which includes $3 worth of “Columbia Eagles” which are redeemed for goods, food or services in the camp, giving students an opportunity to interact in the mercantile economy of the camp.

Many additional opportunities are offered by State Park Concessionaires. See the links to the right of this page.

Columbia Cemetery Tours

Learn the history of some residents who have lived and died in Columbia.  Classes and large groups are not permitted in the Columbia Cemetery without prior arrangements out of respect for those who reside there.  To make a reservation for your class or school, please contact Sherrin at (209) 532-8673.

If you plan on visiting the cemetery with your group, please review these guidelines.

California State Parks PORTS Videoconference Programs

Columbia SHP is a host site for the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program. This program uses videoconference technology to link students to park personnel and the California Gold Rush while introducing California Content Standards in a fun and interactive way. See more about this exciting program here!