History of Coloma

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James Marshall


 James Marshall was forced to leave his home in Missouri because of illness. He arrived at Sutter's Fort in California, July 1845, and was immediately hired by Captain John A. Sutter as a carpenter. He left Sutter to serve with the American forces and after serving just over a year returned to work for Sutter. It was then James Marshall was asked to find a location in the mountains to build a sawmill so John Sutter would have enough lumber to expand his agricultural empire, "New Helvetia" in the Sacramento Valley. On a river created by snow melting in the High Sierra and winding it's way through the Cullumah Valley, (Coloma) Marshall selected the site to build the mill. In September 1847, along with some of Sutter's workmen, Marshall left for the hills to start construction of the mill. Construction was completed within the year but a problem arose. The tailrace that carried


stampswater away from the mill was too shallow and needed to be deepened. While inspecting the tailrace, Marshall spotted some shining flecks in the water. After briefly inspecting the substance he announced his find to the others stating , "Boys, by God, I believe I have found a gold mine." After further inspection by various tests it was believed the substance was indeed gold. Marshall took his find to Sutter where Sutter did even more testing and confirmed Marshall's conclusion. January 24, 1848, the day Marshall discovered gold and changed the course of California's history. Word of the discovery spread and it wasn't long before gold fever infected nearly everyone. People from all over the world wanted to travel to California and strike it rich.

Covered WagonsBy June of 1849 some 80,000 pioneers and speculators had converged on the newly discovered Gold fields. Among those displaced in this deluge of fortune seekers where the Nisenan people who had for centuries called the Cullumah Valley and the Cullomain Village their home.

On February 18, 1850 El Dorado County was created with Coloma selected as the first county seat. Only 7 months later California became the 31st state in the union. In 1854 the county seat was moved to Placerville where it has remained for 150 years.


Marshall Statue



In May of 1980 a monument honoring James Marshall was erected on a hill above his burial site. The bronze-coated statue, cast in San Francisco, depicts Marshall pointing to the spot he discovered Gold and changed the world forever!

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