I’m a sucker for taking the road less traveled. That might have something to do with my penchant for getting lost. If there’s a wrong turn to be made – I’ll find it. By taking the back highways and byways, you never know what you’re going to find. Combine that quest with a glimpse into our past – and I’m hooked.
Two of my writer friends and I wandered off the beaten path last spring as we visited Columbia State Historic Park in California. According to their website it’s a:
“living gold rush town featuring the largest single collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state. Visiting Columbia is like traveling back in time to the sights, smells, and sounds of a nineteenth century mining town—merchants dressed in 1850’s attire, a whiff of coal smoke from the blacksmith shop, and the rumble of a stagecoach pulling into town! Spend the day enjoying fun activities for the whole family. Pan for gold, explore exhibits, ride the stagecoach, discover unique shops, and learn about the rich history of the California gold rush on a guided town tour.”
|Jack Douglass Saloon|
It’s a bit touristy, but an historic touristy. That means there’s an old-fashioned candy shop with authentic candies from the last half of the 1800’s; a blacksmith’s shop where you can purchase items hammered and shaped straight out of the cold forge; soap and candle shops; and my favorite – bookstores stocked with small runs of books about local history. No self-respecting mining town would come without a saloon - or two.
The park also has a number of exhibits set up in buildings around town – think progressive dinner but museums instead – filled with local lore and what it was like to live in a mining town.
A natural born browser, I had lots of fun wandering in and out of shops and enjoying a meal with my friends. Who knows where the road will take us next!
|Columbia Kate's Tea House and Bakery|
|Parrott's Blacksmith Shop|
|The Meadow where you can pan for gold.|
|Some of the old mining equipment.|