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Panning for historic gold

This weekend, the birthplace of the Gold Rush will come to life again at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma.

Visitors to the state park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday, can tour the place where gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill during the interpretive event called Coloma Gold Rush Live!

“As they move through different parts of the park, it’s like a walk through time,” said Deb Jensen, executive director of the Gold Discovery Park Association, the nonprofit group coordinating the event.



Gold miners will spread an 1850s’ settlement, or “tent town,” under oaks next to the American River and tell tales from the goldfields. The man whose discovery triggered the Gold Rush, James Marshall, also could make an appearance.

“You just never know who will turn out,” Jensen said.




Families can churn butter, pan for gold, make rope and use different tools at the sawmill, Jensen said.

Volunteers will demonstrate trades such as timber-frame construction, blacksmithing, spinning, weaving and making baskets. Games will be available for children, and musicians will play period instruments and sing songs of early California immigrants.

Merchants will hawk their wares, and the Coloma Cemetery Players will bring historical figures back to life.

Docents in period dress will cook 1850s style food such as shortbread, cabbage, beans and stew.

“We’re not cooking up any squirrel meat,” Jensen said.

For those who hanker for modern fare, contemporary food also will be available, and visitors can bring a picnic, Jensen said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

Coloma Gold Rush Live!

The living history event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. It’s in Coloma on Highway 49 between Auburn and Placerville.

Parking is $7 per vehicle. For more information, call 295-2162.


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