Geologic Trip, The Mother Lode
This replica of Sutter’s Mill lies along the South Fork of the American River in Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in the town of Coloma. The site of the original mill lies about 500 feet north of the replica. Gold was discovered at Coloma by James Marshall in January of 1848. At the time of discovery, Coloma was a small town on the South Fork of the American River. Within four months of the discovery, nearly the entire population of San Francisco had departed to prospect in the gold fields. By the end of 1849, the population of Coloma was 10,000. Despite the efforts of all of these prospectors, little gold was found at Coloma. By 1852, the population had moved on, and the town declined. The State Park includes visitor center and many historic exhibits, sites, and buildings from the gold rush era. Several of the buildings in Coloma date from the early and mid 1850’s, before the gold rush began.