Day Use Areas
8am - 6pm
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 May 12
Living History Celebrates the Contributions of Asians in Post Gold Rush California
On Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park will celebrate the many contributions made by people of Asian descent who came to California during and after the Gold Rush.
People from the southeastern regions of China immigrated in great numbers to California in the mid and late 1850s in search of Gam Saan or Gold Mountain. As the gateway to the gold fields, Coloma became home to over 200 Chinese by 1860, which equated to 28 percent of the town’s total population. Most were occupied as miners, but Coloma’s Chinese district also boasted a hotel, three groceries, and a laundry. There were also Chinese doctors, cooks, barbers, clerks, and farmers. The Wah Hop and Man Lee stores at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP are all that are left of a once booming China Town. The beautiful stone buildings house exhibits providing information on a traditional Chinese store from the nineteenth century and mining methods.
In 1869, just up the road from Coloma, the Wakamatsu Tea & Silk Farm Colony was founded by a group of Japanese Samurai. Their farm was the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America. Due to drought and lack of financing, the venture failed, and many of the immigrants returned to Japan. One of the colonists, Matsunosuke Sakurai, remained in California and worked for Francis Veerkamp. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Coloma.
At 11 a.m. join Karun Yee in the theater in the Gold Discovery Museum for a discussion on the contributions made by Chinese immigrants to California and the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Yee’s late husband was a descendent of the Yee family who settled in Fiddletown in the 1850s. She has served as the historical chair of the Chinese American Council for over 15 years, and helped research, write and edit Canton Footprints by Philip P. Choy. The book advocates the idea that it was America's interest in trade with China that helped facilitate the influx of Chinese to California.
At 1 p.m., the American River Conservancy will be hosting a dedication ceremony at the gravesite of Matsunosuke Sakurai in the Pioneer Cemetery on Cold Springs Road. The ceremony will include a ceremony by a Buddhist monk, the story of Sakurai, and the dedication of a new marker on his grave. Following the ceremony, visitors are invited to visit the Wakamatsu Farm, which is approximately two miles south of the cemetery at 941 Cold Springs Road.
Visitors are encouraged to join park docents under the trees behind the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for living history demonstrations.
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 4-day living history event.
Upcoming Living History dates and themes for the year include:
May 12 Asians
June 9 English/Welsh
July 14 Irish
August 11 Mexican/Chilean
September 8 Germans
October 11-14 Coloma Gold Rush Live! The Melting Pot
For more information on these events, or other activities at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, please visit our website at www.parks.ca.gov/marshallgold, or 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