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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 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.

For more information about reservations, click here.

For more information about our Concessionaire offerings, click

For more information about our school programs, click

Gold Trek

Look for 2016 information below!

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. 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. 

NEW! This program costs $3.50 per student, and takes approximately 3 hours. 
Mark your calendars! Reservations can be made online at beginning September 15th at 8:00am for the 2015/2016 school year. Available 2016 dates: March 10, March 17, March 31, April 7, April 14.

Schoolhouse Living History Program and Town Tour


Look for 2016 information below!

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensible 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, weather permitting. 

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

NEW! Cost for each program is $30.  Reservations may be made online at beginning September 15th at 8:00am. Contact Doug at for more information about our program.

Columbia Diggins Tent Town Education Days-May 19-22, 2016

Chalkboard Girl
NEW info below!

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. 

NEW for 2016! Mark your calendars! Reservations can be made first-come, first serve, beginning September 15th at 8:00am at Please check back in August for more detailed information about the reservation process. To preserve the learning environment, classes without reservations are not admitted on Thursday or Friday of the event.  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 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!