Day Use Areas
8am - 8pm
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
The World Rushed In
James W. Marshall discovered gold in 1848 on the South Fork of the American River in the valley the Nisenan Indians knew as Cullumah (beautiful valley). This event led to the greatest mass movement of people in the Western Hemisphere and was the spark that ignited the spectacular growth of the West during the ensuing decades. The gold discovery site, located in the still visible tailrace of Sutter's sawmill in present day Coloma, California, is one of the most significant historic sites in the nation.
In 1848, James W. Marshall found shining flecks of gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building in partnership with John Sutter. This discovery changed the course of California's and the nation's history. See a replica of the original sawmill and over 20 historic buildings including a mining exhibit, Chinese store exhibits and schoolhouse exhibit.
Visitors have the opportunity to pan for gold in the American River and enjoy hikes and picnics under the riparian oak woodlands. Overlooking the beautiful river canyon is the Marshall Monument, California's first historic monument and the final resting place of James Marshall. The statue looks down on the river and point to the site of the gold discovery.
Visit our exhibits, take a gold panning lesson, or participate in tours, Living History Day, or special events planned regularly throughout the year. Contact the Gold Discovery Museum and Visitor Center for details. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is proud to also offer the Eureka Experience school and group programs.
Next Living History Day is July 14
The Luck of the Irish Comes to Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park July 14
An Irishman may not have made the gold discovery that ultimately led to the California Gold Rush, but the marketing acumen of an Irishman by the name of Brannan spread the gold fever across the continent. On Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California will explore this and other contributions made by people of Irish descent who came to California before, during, and after the Gold Rush.
At 11 a.m. join park docent Linda Pietraczyk in the theater in the visitor center as she explores the many ways immigrants from Ireland contributed to the growth of the fledgling state of California. From the risqué entertainment provided by Lola Montez (who was actually born in Ireland), to the founding of the Sacramento Bee by James McClatchy, and the development of the agriculture industry in the San Joaquin Valley by Theodore O’Kearney, Pietraczyk will share some of the many stories of the Irish movers and shakers who helped shape the growth of California. Additionally, she will present the stories of Irishmen who settled in the Coloma Valley and contributed to the growth of the town of Coloma
Park docent Susan Felton will also present the first person story of Mrs. Murphy, a denizen of Coloma who is buried in the cemetery behind St. John’s Church in Coloma.
Visitors are also encouraged to join park docents under the trees behind the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for living history demonstrations and hands on learning opportunities.
This event continues the park’s exploration of the diverse peoples and cultures found in Coloma before, during and after the Gold Rush. On the second Saturday of each month during the park’s monthly Living History event, a different cultural group will be highlighted. In October, all cultures will come together in the melting pot of Coloma Gold Rush Live, the park’s annual weekend-long living history event.
Upcoming Living History dates and themes for the year include:
July 14 Irish
August 11 Mexican/Chilean
September 8 Germans
October 13-14 Coloma Gold Rush Live! The Melting Pot
For more information on these events, or other activities at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, please call the museum at 530-622-3470.
Group Reservations 2017-18
Check school and group information page for change in reservation dates and procedures.
School and Group Information
Gold Discovery Tours
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is pleased to offer visitors guided walking tours!
Our Gold Discovery Tour tells the story and visits the sites of the Coloma Valley before the discovery of gold by James Marshall. Learn about the events leading up to the discovery, the history of the California Gold Rush and the town of Coloma.
Tours are offered at least twice a day, weather permitting. Tour cost is $3.00 per adult and $2.00 per child. We do not give tours on our event days including Coloma Gold Rush Live and Christmas in Coloma. Please come enjoy those events!
Any questions? Please call our museum at (530) 622-3470.
Seasons & Recommended Clothing
Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. Layered clothing is advised.
For current river flow, please click on the link to be redirected.
Gold panning, tours, the blacksmith shop, and other scheduled activities may be closed/cancelled due to extreme weather, poor air quality conditions, inclement weather, or emergencies. For the latest information, please call the Gold Discovery Museum at (530) 622-3470; open seven days a week 10am-5pm. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Location & Directions
The park is located in Coloma, California on Highway 49 between Placerville and Auburn.
From US Highway 50 traveling East: Take the Ponderosa exit, turn left on South Shingle, take a right on North Shingle. Continue on North Shingle for 10 miles (North Shingle will turn into Green Valley Road, then Lotus Road). Lotus Road ends at CA HWY 49. Turn right on Highway 49 and go 1 mile to Coloma.
From US HWY 80 traveling East: Take the Elm Ave. exit and turn left. Take a left on CA HWY 49/CA HWY 193/South El Dorado Street. Continue on Highway 49 for approximately 13 miles. Highway 49 runs through the middle of Coloma.
Available Activities and Facilities at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Drinking Water Available