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 March 10
Living History Celebrates the Contributions of Women to the Coloma Valle
On Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California will celebrate the contributions made by women who came to California during the gold rush.
At 11 a.m. join author Joann Levy in the theater in the Gold Discovery Museum. Ms. Levy will be speaking on the adventurous woman who participated in the great American story of the Gold Rush. She will talk of the women who came west both with families and alone, who journeyed overland by wagon, around the Horn by ship, and across the Isthmus of Panama by mule and canoe. These women endured horrendous experiences, conquered their own fears, and achieved potential they often didn't suspect they possessed. Many became financially independent and successful. Ms. Levy’s stories will dent the presumption that 19th-century women were hot-house flowers staying home and weeping; the facts show that a great many were as adventurous as men.
At 1 p.m. visitors are invited to hear from women characters of the gold rush at the stage behind the museum. Docents will share the stories of women who lived during and after the gold rush in Coloma and in Sacramento. Hear from the woman who was in camp when James Marshall first discovered told, learn about a former slave who prospered in Coloma, hear the story of the long trip across the prairie to to California, and hear from the wives of a shopkeepers in Coloma and Sacramento.
At 2 p.m. join us in the theater in the museum for a presentation on ladies apparel of the 1850s. Learn about the various articles worn by a proper lady and watch as docents dress Millicent, our fashion mannequin, in the appropriate layers.
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 women 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. 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.
- March 10: Women
- April 14: Italians
- May 12: Chinese
- June 9: English/Welsh
- July 14: Irish
- August 11: Latin Americans
- September 8: Germans
- October 11-14: Gold Rush Live – Cultural Melting Pot
For more information on the park, this event, or future events at the park, visit call (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