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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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April 25, 2011

The Columbia Gold Rush Experience

During our overnight, camping field trip to Columbia State Park, CA with Bryce's one room school, we experienced what life might have been like in the gold rush days back in 1848.

Where else can a kid carry a shotgun through town and look normal?

The town of Columbia was only one of hundreds of settlements that popped up during the exciting years when Gold brought optimists from all over the world to seek their fortunes in California.

Columbia is located in the heart of the Mother Lode, a mile wide network of gold bearing quartz that extends 120 miles along the western edge of the Sierra Nevada, from Mariposa northward to Georgetown, Columbia yielded $87 million in gold at 1860's prices.

Columbia has never been a 'ghost town', it has never been deserted.  Through State Legislature in 1945, Columbia State Historic Park was created to forever preserve it's history.

On Saturday's post, I shared with you, many of the tours we went on at Columbia.

One of the scheduled tours, I found most interesting was, of course, the one room school house.

The one room school house in Columbia is more than twice the size of the one room school Bryce attends today.

Inside, the 'school teacher' told us what a child's school experience might be like back in 1860.  Boys were to sit on one side of the room and girls on the other side during class.  Boys and girls weren't even allowed to play with each other outside during recess.  They had separate play areas.

If a child had broken a rule, depending on what rule was broken, the child would get a swat on the palm of their hand with a wooden ruler, or if  more severe punishment was needed, the ruler swat would happen on the knuckles, or a paddle on the rear end if a boy and switch to bare legs if a girl.

Our kids had fun comparing their own one room school house to Columbia's.  I'm sure they found appreciation in the fact that the ruler punishment is no longer in effect in the California school system.

On our second and final day of the trip, the kids participated in the 'Gold Trek Experience'.  Before we left camp, I had Bryce and his buddy give me their toughest Gold Miner pose they could muster.

Once at Columbia State Park, the Gold Trek began.

This is a program where many schools can participate at once.  The students are encouraged to dress and play the part of a gold miner. 

The schools are divided into teams from within their own schools.  They then begin by participating in an auction where they have the opportunity to spend or save their money, purchase maps, carts, supplies and shovels, and start on their journey to find gold.

Along the route to the gold fields, they encounter charlatains, merchants, ferry crossings, and opportunities to make critical decisions that impact their ability to arrive at the diggin's ready to work and hopefully find gold.

The students must follow the map given to them and make their own decisions without any help from the adults.  We just followed along behind and watched. 

Each team member had a job to do.  Bryce was thrilled he was named the 'Hunter' of his team and thrilled to carry his own shotgun as well. {made out of wood of course}
Along the way they were told they would encounter at least 6 people who may either help them or try to lead them astray in some way or another.

Bryce would stop in mid trek every so often to hunt down some food for his team.  This was not a required part of the experience, but he was totally getting into his role!

Once completed, an hour or so later, we arrived at the school house to mine for some gold, wait for all the teams to arrive and eat lunch.
The Columbia State Park experience is one that won't be forgotten.  Bryce thoroughly enjoyed himself and I did as well.......except for the City Slickers that showed up at camp and proceeded to set up and unload their entire car loads at 1 in the A.M.!  But that's a whole other story :)

We may even make the trip back the first weekend of June for the Columbia Diggins 1852 annual event, who knows!

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bon bon said...

i cracked up over that tough little thumb-sucker! great pix!

TexWisGirl said...

quite the historic adventure. lots of stories to tell from that day!

Michelle said...

I love the historic factor of this trip. A great experience for kids to see what it was like back then.

Sarah said...

How fun! Love the thumbsucker photo.

Unknown said...

Had to look twice at your "tough" little gold miner picture I really thought it was old!
Fieldtrip looks amazing!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Aren't they cute?! And they look totally legit too. What fun :-)

Katie said...

Okay I also LOVE the history and how hilarious authentic Bryce looks in the pics. But...I also love that I was texting you in that one room school house. Now that would not have happened in the 1800's. Thank goodness for technology!