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School Programs
School Programs at Columbia State Historic Park

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 directed at the school audience.  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, meeting California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content.  Financial support for these programs is provided by Friends of Columbia State Historic Park.

Gold Panning with Kids
Gold Trek-
Now taking reservations for 2015!

This is a unique program, offered just a few Fridays 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. Teachers will divide the classes into companies.  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 men faced as they traveled from Stockton to the diggings in search of gold.  This program costs $75 per class, and takes approximately 4 hours. 
Reservations must be made by September 30, for the 2014/2015 school year.  After this date if there is still room in the program applications will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. Attn: GOLD TREK: 11255 Jackson St. Columbia, California 95310.

Schoolhouse Living History Program and Bucket Brigade
2014/2015 Year Forms Now Available!
This two-hour program consists of a 1-hour program led by park staff at the museum, consisting of a lesson on 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 gold-rush Columbia.

The second part of the museum program includes a hands-on bucket brigade, weather permitting.  Students then walk up the hill to the 1861 brick Columbia Schoolhouse, where a costumed schoolteacher presents an hour-long school program, using the methods and tools of the 1861 classroom.

Cost for this program is $40.  Reservations may be made be mailing in the completed form. Contact Doug at for more information or to make your reservation. You may mail in the application at any time.  We hold applications until August 15th, then begin processing, based on lottery order.  After August 15th, applications are processed as they are received.  These programs sell out early.

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.

Chalkboard Girl
Columbia Diggins Education Days-May 28 and 29, 2015 Reservations now being accepted!
The weekend after Memorial Day each year, docents and staff recreate an early tent town to demonstrate the 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.  A lottery for available slots is held from reservation forms received by September 30th.  Any slots left after that date will be scheduled first-come, first-served.

To preserve the learning environment, classes without reservations are not admitted on Thursday or Friday of the event.  The cost is $30, plus $3 each child for the purchase 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.

California State Parks PORTS Program-Gold Rush

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!

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