Monday, September 30, 2013

Auburn and Coloma, California

On our way home from Lake Tahoe we stopped in Coloma, California.  The American River flows through Coloma, and the river is where the California gold rush began.  There are a few businesses left in the town, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park encompasses most of it.
 It was January of 1848 when John Marshall discovered a few flecks of gold in the tailrace of the saw mill which he and John Sutter owned.  Word soon got out about the gold in the American River and young men from all over our nation came in droves to California.  We took a tour of the park with a docent who had lots of information to share with us about life in the town of Colona during the early years of the gold rush.  The lure of gold also drew people from China.  Still standing in the park are two buildings where the Chinese citizens of the town could purchase needed items from their home country.  The Man Lee was a trading, banking, and hardware store.  The other store, pictured below is the Wah Hop.  In the latter building has been placed merchandise which use to be sold in it.
 Some of the tour was a bit boring for me, especially when our guide discussed the various methods by which gold is mined.  Different mining equipment is located in the park, and that was part of our tour.  We learned how placer gold ore is mined by either a wet or a dry method.  Initially miners simply used a pan to separate the river gravel from the gold.  That proved to be a slow arduous process and many of the young men who traveled to California with hopes of getting rich never achieved the wealth they dreamed of.  Today people still pan for gold in the American River, and some are successful.  Our guide purchased a nugget from a person who found gold in the river several years ago.  He claims that the value of the nugget is around $4,000.00.  That was the most interesting part of the tour for me, to see that piece of gold!
From Coloma we drove to Auburn, where our home is currently parked.   Auburn is another historic gold mining town, founded in 1849.  At the Native Son Park, which we discovered while wandering around in the older section of town, we found a plaque honoring Claude Chana who found gold in the North Fork of the American river in May of 1848.  He camped in what would later be known as the Auburn Ravine.  
There is also another marker in the park which honors “all the Gold Miners throughout the Mother Lode”.  The memorial concludes with the comment that without the ingenuity and perseverance of the miners, California would not have become the “Golden State”.



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