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 April 14
Living History Celebrates the Contributions of Italians During and After the Gold Rush
On Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California will explore the legacy of the Italians who came to California during and after the gold rush.
At 11 a.m. join author and historian Carolyn Fregulia in the theater in the visitor center for a talk covering the profound influence of Italian culture in California over the past 160 years. Immigrants from Italy’s northern provinces were drawn to the state by the lure of gold, but it was the allure of the California foothills, where they found the terrain and Mediterranean climate similar to that of Italy, that convinced them to stay. California’s fledgling economy provided unparalleled opportunities for Italian businessmen, and unclaimed land was available for agriculturalists. Settlement soon brought women and children, and within a decade, Italians represented a significant portion of the population in the region, numbering among the gold country’s leading farmers, merchants, and tradesmen. The Mother Lode also offered women unique advantages, and Italian women proved wonderfully resourceful when necessity demanded. The 1870s saw a second wave of immigration, as Italian laborers arrived to work in the large, corporate-owned gold mines.
In addition, the Papini House will be open for viewing.
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 and to learn more about the history of and contributions made by Italians during the gold rush.
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. October 11-14, 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:
April 14 Italians
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, 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