Very few things remain the same for 160 years, especially in our what's new, what’s next modern world of urban sprawl and Walmart suburbia. In March of 1850, at the height of the Califoria Gold Rush, a group of miners stumbled onto the limestone and granite out croppings between Sonora and the Stanislaus River, where they discovered the shiny dreams for which the 49’ers had come for and established Hildreth’s Diggings. Others heard of the strike and flocked to the verdant area. The town which grew was renamed Columbia. By 1852 the town was populated by more than 150 stores, shops and saloons, with a church, a school, Masonic Lodge and thriving Chinatown all surrounded by a tent city. Columibia was a "dry diggings" with no water for the crowd of miners to wash their claims, so water had to be brought from the river by flume, resulting in the first "water war" when hyraulic mining came. Columbia survived fires, and the brutality of the Foreign Miner’s Tax, meant to chase Spanish speaking immigrants from the gold claims, but it couldn’t survive the end of the gold.
1853 Columbia was one of the largest cities in California with as many
as 30,000 residents in
area. By the 1860’s most
of the gold had been mined out. Miners tore down buildings and mined
the lots underneath. But after less than 18 years this bustling vibrant
gold rush town called the “Gem of the Southern Mines” had
been reduced to near ghost town status. Never completely abandoned but
located off the main highway State Route 49 known as the 49er highway,
Columbia avoided the modern city development of other gold rush era towns.
Nearly vacant, its buildings run down and ignored by the world, the town
became a State Park in 1945, often used by movie companies for westerns.
The streets of Columbia were used in “High Noon”, Clint Eastwood’s “Pale
Rider” and a few dozen others along with
the nearby historic steam rail in nearby Jamestown (see Movie
Railtown 1897) .
For those looking for a journey back to golden era California and living history, Columbia, now a preserved historic town is the largest collection of gold rush buildings remaining in California’s gold country, recognizable for their unique red brick construction with heavy iron doors. A perfect vacation destination for familes and anyone interested in the colorful time in American history. A stage coach runs daily from in front of the Well Fargo Express office on Main St.. Sip Sasparilla from the tap of the St. Charles Saloon, watch the blacksmith pound red hot iron at the Parrott Blacksmith shop, and pan for gold along the still remaining flumes.
The first weekend in June a replica of the original tent town of 1852 is opened with costumed docents enacting the parts of miners and businessmen of the time at the”Columbia Diggin’s” and Gold Rush Days every second Saturday of the month.
For those that want to stay in 1850s style, there are two hotels in Columbia dating from the original times. The City Hotel and the Fallon House Hotel are both operated by Forever Resorts with a gourmet restaurant at the City Hotel and the Fallon House Theater connected to the Fallon Hotel where local plays are performed. The hotels offer a Couples Getaway romantic package including lodging, theater, champagne, ice cream, salon nightcap and breakfast for $210-265 per couple. Regular room rates are $85-140. City Hotel
the gold rush era towns, Sonora the central town
of the southern Sierra gold rush mines, Murphy’s now a popular
and growing varietal wine area with 40 wineries offering tasting and
tour events (see
Find the best hotel and travel deals in Sonora on TripAdvisor
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