Where Feet and Hooves Meet Dirt in the Wild Wild West

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

Stage Coach - Columbia California

For those of you, who have been following my blog, you know that I have a fascination for the California Mother Lode - the little towns, and their history.  A few days back, I wrote about Amador City a little treasure along the Highway 49 daisy chain of California Gold Rush towns that make up the tapestry of rich California history.

Late last week, I gathered up a couple more grandkids, and my camera.  We jumped in the car, and headed off once again, traveling south east on highway 16, which connects up with highway 49 further south east through the likes of Dry Town, Amador City, Sutter Creek, Jackson, San Andreas and Angels Camp, before reaching The Gem of the Southern Mines, Columbia.

Of all the little Gold Rush towns still in existence today, Columbia is one that I enjoy the most for its original feel.  The town's landscape filled with the old Wells Fargo building, stores, blacksmith shop, and saloon, continue on the very dirt streets and roads they existed on originally.

The little town got its beginnings on March 27th 1850, when Dr. Thaddeus Hildreth, and his brother George, with a handful of other prospectors, made camp near there.  They found gold, and miners streamed in to share the wealth.

Within the month, Hildreth's Diggings, a tent and shantytown housed several thousand miners.  It's original name was soon changed to American Camp, and then ultimately to Columbia.

The history of the little town was almost doomed to be very short.  Water, which is indispensable for mining placer gold, was in very short supply.  And, there were no natural streams in the area - only gulches carrying runoff from rain and snow.  So, in June 1851 the Tuolumne County Water Company was created to bring water into the area.  Because the water company's rates were exhorbitantly high, the miners formed the Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Company in 1854.  This new company built a 60 mile aqueduct to supply the mines.  The new system was not completed fully until 1858, when the more easily worked gold deposits had been exhausted and the miners began moving out.  Because of this, the Tuolumne County Water Company acquired the new system, which cost over $1 million, for under $150,000.

Columbia's tents and shanties began being replaced with permanent structures.  By the end of 1852 streets were laid out, with more than 150 shops, stores, saloons and other enterprises, all going strong.  There was also a church, a Masonic Lodge, and even a branch of the Sons of Temperance (if you can imagine any kind of temperance in a mining town).

Recognizing an opportunity to preserve a typical Gold Rush town as an example of one of the most colorful eras in American history, the California State Legislature in 1945 created Columbia State Historic Park.

For more information about Columbia State Historic Park you can visit the Columbia Chamber of Commerce website.

For the best roast beef sandwich, pickles, chips and sarsparilla around, show up at Jack Douglass Saloon in the center of Columbia, 22718 Main Street.  Kids are welcome too!


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Great Shots!
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california mother lode
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myrl jeffcoat

Comments 21 New Comment

Robert (Vegas Bob) Swetz
Commercial & Residential Real Estate Agent

Myrl - You sure have some great interesting posts with some wonderful photographs! I really like the "Old West"

And you have once again did a great job of expressing with photographs!

VB ;o)

August 11, 2009 10:48 PM
Jim Hale
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate


What a great place the mining country is. Please tell us what program you use for that slideshow.

August 13, 2009 05:32 AM
Janice Roosevelt
OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker
SUSAN MANNERS TEAM, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach

Myrl, you have to publish a book! These stories and trips are dynamite!

August 13, 2009 06:12 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

Robert - Thank you Kind Sir!

Jim - I posted a little tutorial back in April titled "Animated Blogging."  There is one more step to the process however.  Once you have created the animation, you must upload it to a website, and then reference the URL when using it here on ActiveRain.  Otherwise, the animation won't animate, it becomes static.

Janice - I'm really gald you enjoy the stories.  I'm up early this morning.  When my youngest daughter drops off two of the grandkids, we are headed into a different area. . .So stay tuned:-)

August 13, 2009 07:05 AM
Joan Whitebook
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
BHG The Masiello Group

What a wonderful post and slide show.  It was almost like being there.  I took my nephew to the gold country and we loved it.. lots to see and do.

August 13, 2009 10:14 AM

Myrl Jeffcoat

Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
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