Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began at this site in January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill. Marshall discovered gold on the South Fork of the American River while building a sawmill for John A. Sutter in the valley the Nisenan Indians knew as Cullumah. This event led to the greatest voluntary mass movement of people in the Western Hemisphere and was the spark that ignited the spectacular growth of the West during the ensuing decades. The gold discovery site, located in the still visible tailrace of Sutter's sawmill, in present day Coloma, California, is one of the most significant historic sites in the nation.

Exhibits in the Gold Discovery Museum at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park tell the story of John Sutter and James Marshall, and how drastically the simple act of noticing a small fleck of gold would alter the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from that day to the present.

The Museum has Native American and Gold Rush-era exhibits, including mining equipment, horse-drawn vehicles, household implements and other memorabilia, as well as films about the gold discovery and early mining techniques. Outside, there are mining exhibits, original buildings used by the Chinese, and a full size replica of Sutter's Mill.

Visitors can pan for gold in the American River and enjoy hikes and picnics under the oak woodlands. Overlooking the beautiful river canyon, where the gold discoverer rests today, you can see California's first historic monument, the statue of James Marshall pointing at his gold discovery site. The park's interpretive program primarily embraces the period from 1847 through 1852, but also shows the town of Coloma as it developed.

Throughout the year the park provides daily Gold Discovery Tours at 11 am and 1pm.  Participate in special events such as the second weekend in October for "Coloma Gold Rush Live" tent town, the weekend after Thanksgiving for "Historic Holiday Houses Tour," or "Gold Discovery Day" in January.   "Second Saturday: Live History Days" is planned regularly throughout the year; contact the Gold Discovery Museum and Visitor Center for details.


Latitude: 38.799983 Longitude: -120.892068 Elevation: 764 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Mary Cory

Seasons Accessible

The Park and Museum is open year round except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.


Museum:  Opens daily at 10 a.m.

Park:  Memorial Day to Labor Day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

           Daylight Saving Time Fall to Spring from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.



$8.00/car Day Use Fee

ADA Accessibility Notes

The accessibly-designed Gold Discovery Museum has restrooms, self-guided exhibits and an audio-visual theater. Video captioning and large print brochures are available.

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs on leash are allowed in the park. Only service animals are allowed in the Museum.


Regard: California Gold Rush, 1848 – 54 - one of the great migrations in the states triggered Dear Lady’s and Sirs: I live in Torgau, a city in Germany / Saxony. From there many families with children immigrated to California in 1850. It happened after the 1848 revolution - poverty was everywhere - People were hoping for a better life. Unfortunately, the desire was hardly true. When they arrived in California, most of the gold fields were empty. Seven to eight months the emigrants traveled from Germany / Torgau. Route: Atlantic, dangerous and expensive. The path by stretching and walking through the states. Route: Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. There were over two thousand miles through rough terrain and Indians territory. Were often long periods with rain. Many of the emigrants died. Even robbers raided the caravans. Unfortunately, there are few letters or documents from German prospectors. Many emigrants were joiners, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, cooks, and even veterinarians. They were able to survive. They had to speak English. California Gold Rush: He created one of the largest migrations in the United States. Very important: immigrants also loved adventure. Young men were dreaming of the beautiful Sierra. James Fenimore Cooper, Friedrich Gerstacker or Jack London had taken the romance with her books on Germany. They made life in the new world tasty. Books by American authors been translated into German. My relatives emigrated in 1928 from Germany / Leipzig to Phoenix / Arizona. Racist intrigues did not exist. Another good example of the coexistence in our world: 19th Century - millions of refugees asylum in the United States … Literature California gold rush 1848-54: “The gold of the Sierra Nevada”, AAVAA publishing house Berlin, 2012. California Gold Rush 19th century .: Native Awani (Yosemite Valley) - good contacts with German prospectors. Awani helped in the gold mines ... mutual respect (Emigrant letters / documents of history) thomas-w-schmidt, Autor at Autor, freischaffend A piece of world history: San Francisco, Auburn, Grass Valley, Sacramento California Gold Rush, 1848 - 54: Hundreds of thousands of German immigrants in the area of San Francisco, Auburn and Grass Valley. It was not only prospectors - bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, tailors, veterinarians. Literature: 'The gold of the Sierra Nevada,' aavaa Publishing 2012th ISBN: 978-3-86254-970-2 Best Wishes Thomas Schmidt

Thomas W. Schmkidt, 5/9/2015

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