Friday, July 12, 2019


Gold was discovered in Columbia in 1850. Over the next half century or so, more than $150 million worth of the metal was pulled out of the ground. While at one time the state's second largest city, after the gold gave out, population dwindled until a relatively stable 2-3,000 people today.

In 1945, the town's central district around Main Street was made into a state park to preserve and interpret the history here. We're going to spend the day here and see what we can find.

Columbia is located about 65 miles by road, due east of Stockton off high both highway 4 and 49 (take 4 to 49 and turn south...look for the signs).  We pass by the large parking lot at the entrance and follow the road to the back of the park to a smaller lot on Yankee Hill Road at the corner of Columbia Street.

Nearby is the cute little cottage of Columbia Kate's Tea Shop where we start off with lunch.

It is some of the best food we've had in this part of the Motherlode, with a peach/chicken sausage quiche, chicken salad croissant, and red bell pepper soup.

Fortified, we move on to explore the park.

Tim and I start off with a stroll through a carriage barn where we see an old hearse.

At the south end of main street is a place where you can pan for gold.

It's a bumpy, dirt path to get there. It's doable but a new, wooden ramp for wheelchairs is under construction, which should be done by the time you read this.

At the Fallon Theatre, we find an old hotel...the Fallon Hotel...that does feature a ground floor, accessible room with a double bed and roll in shower with rates between $115 and $125, depending on the day of the week.

Next door to that, in the theater lobby, we have some ice cream in the parlor there.

It's a hot day so this treat really hits the spot.

The theater itself is still in operation. Now home to the Sierra Rep Company, accessible seating is available at either end of row B. Call (209) 523-3120 to score those wheelchair spots for their productions.

Back on Main Street, our first stop is Nelson's Candies. In business for around a century, they still make candy the old fashioned way, using equipment that dates back to the 1880' a few more modern appliances that are only around a hundred years old.

We get some fruit chews, freshly made, that are absolutely delicious.

Tim hears what sounds like bowling pins being knocked down, so we go to investigate.  Across the street is this ancient, one lane, self serve bowling alley.

I bowl a frame for posterity and we move on.

We end up checking out this old fire station.

Inside is a small, accessible cubicle where you can check out the equipment inside.

And, that's our day in Columbia. Now that we live in the area, we'll be exploring more of these old Gold Rush towns, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

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