Trip back into California's past might be closer than you think
Gold would change the course of the nation and speed California's place in the Union. Soon, Coloma would swell to hundreds of residents, then thousands. A large Chinese community developed, providing food, supplies, hardware and other items to the voracious miners. Coloma would build a jail, then a larger jail, add scores of stores, restaurants and taverns and boom until the gold began to pan out.
A huge fire in 1863 saw much of the town burn, and most of the Chinese merchants and many of the miners moved on to new "diggins" in the surrounding Sierra foothills. Placerville, Plymouth, Fiddletown, Amador City, Sutter Creek and other towns sprang up almost overnight, blossoming to thousands of residents in just a few years as the new "Mother Lode" yielded millions in riches.
The ensuing Gold Rush put California on the world's map and would speed entry of the state into the Union. California's wealth, mineral resources and 17,000 California volunteers to the army would help the North win the Civil War, and would hasten the connection of California to the nation - first through the Pony Express in 1860, then the continental Western Union telegraph in 1862 and finally the transcontinental railroad's completion in 1869.
Today, visitors can...