Coloma/Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
In January 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold in the tailrace of his sawmill located on the South Fork of the American River. The Nisenan or Southern Maidu Indians knew this valley as Cullumah, but the thousands of miner who came here shortly after Marshall's discovery called it Coloma. A reconstructed sawmill now occupies the site and a few Gold Rush-era buildings remain. The park's museum highlights the Native Americans and the changes that followed the discovery of gold and the largest migration in human history that quickly followed. The park has plenty of picnic tables and you can try your luck fishing or gold panning in the river. It's a short hike up to Marshall's grave, and the nearby cemetery is a lesson in how difficult life was here and how young many of its residents were when they arrived at their final resting place.