From Timber to GOLD

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

Let's imagine for a second that you have a vantage point from space so you can gaze back at Earth.  And pretend you have a GPS system in your hands as you punch in coordinates, 38N 48' 00", 120W 53' 00."  While you are being transported to the designated location, clock numbers are moving backward in time.

When the journey ends, you find yourself standing in a remote area of the South Fork of American River in a valley which the Southern Maidu Indian people know as "Cullumah," 

The date is January 24th 1848 and your name is James W. Marshall.  You have just noticed several flakes of metal in the tailrace water of a sawmill that you have been building, AND you know the metal is GOLD.

What you don't yet know, is your discovery will act as catalyst to the greatest mass movement of people in the Western Hemisphere, and begin the growth of the West.   "Cullumah" in the future will become known as "Coloma" - and your event will be logged in history as "The California Gold Discovery and Gold Rush."

Coloma Gold Discovery State Park

In the year 2011, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, sits approximately 40 miles or so from Sacramento.  A number of historical buildings are within the park, as well as the Marshall Sawmill pictured in the slideshow above.  The Sawmill was a joint venture for the interests of James Marshall and John Sutter (Sutter's Fort).  Sutter had obtained land grants which required lumber for building in Sacramento - downriver from Coloma.  There were many tall pine trees to be milled in the vicinity of Coloma.

The life of James Marshall presented many facets in the coming years after his gold discovery at Coloma.  He never "struck it rich."  In the following year (1849), aggressive Oregon gold-miners entered into an ugly dispute with the native Indian Nisenan.  The Indians were murdered, and Marshall had to flee for his life.  After a number of years, he returned to Coloma, where in lived in a hillside cabin, raised grapes and made a little wine, but lived in poverty.  He died in nearby Kelsey in 1885.

The area has easy parking, and delightfully shaded picnic grounds, which make for a perfect family outing. 

For more information and history you can access: "California Parks Marshall Gold Discovery Brochure."


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  1. Lisa Wetzel 07/08/2011 11:04 AM
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Juli Vosmik
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ

Myrl - how very interesting!!!  What was the all stone building?  Was that the jail?  I could see the sign.  Thanks for the great slide show and the information - very interesting.

July 08, 2011 10:47 AM
Donna Foerster
Metro Denver Real Estate Agent
Cherry Creek Properties, LLC

Myrl~  A picnic in the park with some history on the side.  Sounds like a lovely afternoon to me.  Can I order a gentle breeze blowing also?  Have a great weekend!

July 08, 2011 10:51 AM
Than Maynard
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma

Neat story and very well told.

Someone is going to have to direct me to where I can learn how to create the slideshow effect. Had no idea you could do that.

July 08, 2011 11:02 AM
Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates

Myrl, we have visited that park and the other well know California historic sites connected with your golden history.  Quite a fun thing to do with a bunch of kids and grand kids!  From where we are it can easily be a day trip but is much funner to spend the night , take in Old Town Sacraments, and go to the Spaghetti Factory! 

Thanks for the wonderful post!

July 08, 2011 11:04 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

Juli - Yes it was the jail.  While many other buildings have been restored, the old stone building has been pretty much left in present state.

Donna - There actually was a gentle breeze, but it was still a tad too hot for my liking.  Today would have been better.  We are in a cooling trend:-)

Than - I'm glad you like the slide show.  I created a tutorial on how I do them using PaintShop Pro.  The tutorial can be accessed via:

Lisa - There are so many wonderful spots in California Gold Country, it is nearly impossible to pick just one.  I found it ironic that I had photoblogged so many of these towns and places, but had neglected Coloma, where it had all began.  I took 3 of my granddaughters up there yesterday for a little discovery and a picnic.

July 08, 2011 11:39 AM
Judi Boad

Hi Myrl~ What a beautiful depiction of the gold rush! The trip back in time was interesting and exciting! I am going to view your instructions on the perpetual slide show too!

Thank you!

July 08, 2011 12:30 PM
Kristine Ginsberg
Morris County, NJ Stager
Morris County, NJ: Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC

Myrl - what an interesting story on how James Marshall discovered gold right underneath his feat - a real shame he didn't get rich though! Love the history on the park and what great pictures to illustrate what is was like back in 1848!

July 08, 2011 12:44 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

Judi - The program used for the slideshows is PaintShop Pro.  I utilize their Animation Wizard. 

Kristine - They tell us more gold is still in California waiting to be discovered, than was ever taken out.  But the lives of those that have tried taking it has been where the real treasure is.

July 08, 2011 03:05 PM
Emelyn Morris-Sayre
CRS, REALTOR, Lakewood/Denver 303-517-5116
The Berkshire Group

As always, your storytelling is wonderful and your photos terrific!

July 08, 2011 03:51 PM
Richard Iarossi
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


If only California could recreate the Gold Rush days...lots of problems would be solved.


July 08, 2011 09:31 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

Emelyn - Thank you for your kind comments!

Richard - Your comment made me laugh out loud.  Not because it's outrageous, but because it is true.  At first you think about the raucous wild wild west, which meant the fastest gun was justice.  But in comparison to today's street gangs, they were tame. . .LOL  When I looked at the size of some of those Coloma cabins, I realized it didn't take a whole lot to keep a family happy.  Times in many ways were much simpler.  The only public buildings in addition to merchantile and the blacksmith, were an equal number of bars to churches:-)

July 08, 2011 09:41 PM
Judi K Barrett
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma

I think Rich has it!  That has to be the comment of the day that I've read.  :)  Nice post on the park, Myrl.  I would love to visit it.

July 08, 2011 09:43 PM
William Johnson
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
RE/MAX Associates

Hi Myrl, Maybe it is the pioneer in me but somehow there is this feeling that one day, the largest gold find in America will be right here in CA, once again.

While the recent discovery of treasure in India reveals no less than 20 billion dollars in valuable artifacts, I think CA will once again strike it rich in gold. 


July 09, 2011 02:32 AM
Karen Kruschka
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"
RE/MAX Real Estate Connections

Myrl  Your story spinning ability matches you photographic skill - beautifully done

July 09, 2011 11:58 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

Judi - I liked Richard's comment too.  There are news stories about criminals grabbing gold jewelry from the necks of folks just out walking around.  That's not the kind of second Gold Rush we need to help with our problems. 

William - I think it will too!  There is one thing that California has which is considered treasure.  The commodity is INNOVATION.  If we can just tap into that once again, and feed it some good vitamins we might get this bird to fly again!

Karen - Thank you for your nice words, Kind Lady!

July 09, 2011 09:41 PM
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Myrl Jeffcoat

Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
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