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Cartoon animation hiking bear Pinecrest Lake
Tuolumne the
Bear says:
Come hike
with me at
Pinecrest Lake!
Map-Based Guide
Lodging Map
Eat & Drink Map
Central Columbia Map
Maps in PDF

Experience Columbia, California

Visiting downtown Columbia today is much like walking into a prosperous California Gold Rush mining town, circa 1857.

You can visit the Wells Fargo Express building, see its scales for weighing gold, and ride a horse-drawn stagecoach. You can visit the Matelot Gulch mining supply store, pan for gold, and climb around the marble rocks.

Columbia also has many events throughout the year. See the list of upcoming events at the far right column. You can also see videos of some past events by clicking on the "Videos" button above.

Above all, you can see historic buildings, with many including exhibits. Use the Map-Based Guide to explore downtown--its map with pop-up photos as you move the mouse allows you to take a virtual walk down the street.

You can see a live play at the Fallon Theatre. Coming is "Church Basement 2", "The Sound of Music", "Mark Twain's A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage", and "Sanders Family Christmas".

You can take an aerial tour of Yosemite in a small plane from the Columbia Airport.

You can fish at the Springfield Trout Farm.

Columbia also has many restaurants where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, from the historic Black Bart's Inn and City Hotel Restaurant to Mexican and family/Greek food outside the park.

You can also have beer and other alcoholic drinks or sarsparilla at the three saloons in Columbia.

A Tour of Columbia, California
as it looked in 1858

History of Columbia, California

The town of Columbia began as the result of some clothes and blankets that had become wet. A party of miners led by a Maine physican named Thaddeus Hildreth had been prospecting without success in Calaveras County for a month. On their way back to Woods Crossing they spent the night camping. Overnight it rained, and the next morning, while waiting for their clothes and blankets to dry, one member of the party decided to pan in a nearby gulch. He found gold, and soon all five men in the party were finding substantial amounts of the yellow metal. The date was March 27, 1850, more than two years after the initial find at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento. Other miners, hearing of the discovery, soon arrived, and within a few months the area was a thriving tent city of more than a thousand miners. They named it "Columbia".

There were difficulties. Toward the end of the summer the creek dried up and there was no water to wash the gold from the gravel and dirt. Rains that winter allowed mining to resume, but it was a dry winter and the water again ran out. An initial effort to build a ditch to a nearby creek helped, but it was not until the ditch was extended, with wooden flumes, to the Stanislaus River that there was a reliable source of water. Once that happened, the town thrived. The gold was rich, and by the end of 1852 there were perhaps 5,000 people and one hundred and fifty businesses in the town. By 1857 it had 27 restaurants with some of the finest chefs from Europe.

Fires hit Columbia in July, 1854 and again in August, 1857, devastating the town, which intially had only wooden buildings. Each time Columbia was rebuilt, bigger and grander, with new buildings increasingly stone with iron shutters to protect against fire. The town also acquired two hand-pumper fire engines and built underground cisterns to store water for use against fire.

By the 1870s, the gold began to be played out, and the population of Columbia dwindled. In 1945, the California legislature created Columbia State Historic Park. Existing historic buildings were restored, and new replica buildings were constructed from old photos and plans, leading to the town you can see today.



Events in Columbia
April 11, 2015
.
Columbia Jazz Series. 
Season Finale, featuring Latin jazz with Mario Flores. Concert is located in the Dogwood Theater at Columbia College.
Details

April 11, 2015
.
"Songbird Saturday: A 2nd Saturday Art Night AFTER 8 Event. 
This Songbird Saturday highlights three generations of regional singer-songwriters who share their inspiration and...
Details

April 18, 2015
.
36th Annual OLD MILL RUN. 
10K Run, 2-Mile Run/Walk, kids Mini-Mile. Event benefits the Tuolumne County Community Christmas Eve Dinner. Entry fees...
Details

April 19, 2015
.
39th Annual Columbia Wine Tasting. 
Wine Tasting to benefit culinary program at Columbia College. Wine tasting from local wineries and hor d'eouvres by...
Details

April 25, 2015–May 3, 2015
.
In Focus Photography Show. 
InFocus is a photography competition and exhibition sponsored by TCAA, and is one of our most successful shows, drawing...
Details

May 2, 2015
.
56th Annual Firemens Muster. 
Volunteer fire crews from around the western United States will take part in the competition, presented by Columbia...
Details

May 16, 2015
.
Black Oak Casino 14th Anniversary Celebration and Indian Market. 
14th Anniversary Celebration for Black Oak Casino and an Indian Market provided by the Me-Wuk Tribal Council. Native...
Details

May 25, 2015
.
Memorial Day Salute. 
Memorial Day services start at 11am in the old Veterans section of Columbia Cemetery. The ceremony takes about 20...
Details

May 25, 2015
.
Memorial Day Parade in Twain Harte. 
Contact Twain Harte Chamber of Commerce for more information.
Details

May 28, 2015–May 31, 2015
.
Columbia Diggins 1852. 
Step back in time to the year 1852 and discover what life was like in a gold diggins encampment! Over 150 volunteers...
Details

June 13, 2015
.
2nd Saturday Art Night. 
Starting at 5pm galleries, restaurants, and shops offer a magical blend of art, live music! Go on line to print a copy...
Details

June 13, 2015
.
Ghost Tours at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Have you heard that there are ghosts in Columbia? Join us on the tour to find out where they lurk and the stories...
Details

June 13, 2015
.
Farms of Tuolumne County Farm and Ranch Tour. 
Event takes place in Columbia this year. Tour is from 10am-4pm. Tickets are $8.00 in advance or $10.00 the day of the...
Details

June 15, 2015–June 19, 2015
.
Summer Arts Camp at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Summer Arts Camp is designed to partner children with local professional artists and performers so students can explore...
Details

June 19, 2015–June 21, 2015
.
49th Annual Father's Day Fly–In. 
$5 admission charge. 8 am to 5 pm both days. Pancake breakfast, live music, airplane rides & more. 1/2 mile walk from...
Details

June 26, 2015
.
Friday Nights @ the Frosty. 
This is the gathering place for car enthusiasts. Bring your classic, collector, vintage, or hot rod....all are welcome....
Details

June 26, 2015–August 16, 2015
.
Sierra Repertory Theatre Presents "The Music Man". 
Seventy-Six trombones and much more arrive at the Fallon House Theatre heralding Meredith Wilson's The Music Man....
Details

July 4, 2015
.
Glorious 4th of July Celebration. 
Celebrate our nation's birthday the old-fashioned way! Parade, races, bucket brigade, greased pole climbing, watermelon...
Details

July 11, 2015
.
2nd Saturday Art Night. 
Join us from 5pm-9pm for an evening of music and refreshments. Stroll the Historic Downtown from the North to the South...
Details

July 11, 2015
.
Ghost Tours at Columbia SHP. 
Have you heard that there are ghosts in Columbia? Join us on the tour to find out where they lurk and the stories...
Details

July 15, 2015
.
Tuolumne County Visitor's Bureau Presents: P.I.T. Stop at Columbia Nursery. 
Be a tourist in your own back yard! TCVB is excited to give you an opportunity to visit Columbia Nursery and learn...
Details

July 18, 2015
.
Big Band Street Dance in Columbia SHP. 
Step back into the 1940's and put on your dancing shoes to boogie down to the music of Rod Harris and his orchestra....
Details

July 25, 2015
.
History's Mysteries at Columbia State Historic Park. 
We invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800's. You will witness the...
Details

August 1, 2015
.
Battle of Sawmill Flat. 
Columbia State Historic Park near Eagle Cottage.
Details

August 1, 2015
.
History's Mysteries at Columbia SHP. 
We invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800's. You will witness the...
Details

August 8, 2015
.
Ghost Tours at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Have you heard that there are ghosts in Columbia? Join us on the tour to find out where they lurk and the stories...
Details

August 15, 2015
.
History's Mysteries at Columbia SHP. 
We invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800's. You will witness the...
Details

August 29, 2015
.
The Dadgum Button Show at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Check out the antique buttons and button jewelry at Columbia's Dadgum Button Show, held in Angelos Hall from 10am to...
Details

August 29, 2015
.
History's Mysteries at Columbia State Historic Park. 
We invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800's. You will witness the...
Details

September 5, 2015
.
California Statehood Day Parade in Columbia State Historic Park. 
California became a state on September 9, 1850 - 165 years ago! The Statehood Day Parade in Columbia is sponsored by...
Details

September 12, 2015
.
Ghost Tours at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Have you heard that there are ghosts in Columbia? Join us on the tour to find out where they lurk and the stories...
Details

September 18, 2015–October 18, 2015
.
Sierra Repertory Theatre Presents "Always, Patsy Cline". 
More than a tribute to the legendary country singer, the show is based on a true story about friendship with a fan from...
Details

September 19, 2015
.
Back to School 1861. 
Join us for a beautiful evening at the historic schoolhouse from 4pm - 7pm. . During this reminiscent event, take a...
Details

September 20, 2015
.
43rd Annual Columbia Art Show. 
This fine art show features approximately 50 local painters, potters, sculptors and photographers who will display...
Details

September 25, 2015–September 26, 2015
.
Stories in Stone at Columbia SHP. 
Visitors are led through Columbia's historic cemetery by costumed volunteers carrying lanterns where they will visit 13...
Details

September 25, 2015–September 27, 2015
.
Tuolumne Writers Retreat. 
Details

September 26, 2015
.
33rd annual Poison Oak Show in Columbia. 
Aren't you just itchin' to participate? This event is like a traditional flower show, except all entries must include...
Details

September 26, 2015
.
33rd Annual Fiddle and Bango* Contest in Columbia SHP. 
An all-day contest where musicians compete for cash prizes in six categories: fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocal...
Details

October 2, 2015–October 3, 2015
.
Stories in Stone at Columbia State Historic Park. 
Visitors are led through Columbia's historic cemetery by costumed volunteers carrying lanterns where they will visit 13...
Details

October 10, 2015–October 11, 2015
.
Harvest Festifall in Columbia SHP. 
Join us for a cornucopia of crafts, comestibles, demonstration of skills, and music and dancing on the shady streets of...
Details

October 10, 2015
.
2nd Saturday Art Night. 
Starting at 5pm, galleries, restaurants, and shops offer a magical blend of art and live music! Go on line to print a...
Details

October 24, 2015
.
Ghost Tours at Columbia SHP. 
Have you heard that there are ghosts in Columbia? Join us on the tour to find out where they lurk and the stories...
Details

October 31, 2015
.
Trick or Treat in Columbia. 
The merchants of Columbia welcome children in costume for Trick or Treating from 2 to 5 pm. This free event s sponsored...
Details

October 31, 2015
.
10th Annual Illumination of the Jack–O'–Lanterns at Columbia SHP. 
Carve your pumpkins, turning them into classic peg-toothed grinners, artfully chiseled ghouls, leering witches, or...
Details

November 11, 2015
.
Veterans Day remembrance at Columbia SHP. 
In Columbia's historic cemetery at 11am the Columbia Foot Dragoons explain the significance of Veterans Day and how it...
Details

November 13, 2015–November 15, 2015
.
ITSA Film Festival. 
Celebrity & Industry speakers and special guests! ECA Films Screening: Emerging Cinematographer Award Films. Workshops,...
Details

November 13, 2015–December 20, 2015
.
Sierra Repertory Theatre Presents "A Christmas Carol". 
Awakened on the last stroke of midnight, Ebenezer Scrooge encounters three visions - of his past, his present and his...
Details

November 27, 2015–December 20, 2015
.
Columbia Candy Kitchen Candy Cane Making. 
Every Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm. Participate in making traditional candy canes during the holidays....
Details

December 4, 2015–December 5, 2015
.
Lamplight Tours at Columbia SHP. 
Join us for a walking play that wanders the streets of Columbia at night and ends with music, dance, and refreshments....
Details

December 5, 2015
.
48th Annual AAUW House Tour. 
A tour of four outstanding homes in Sonora and Columbia area, noon to 4 pm. Tickets are $20 which includes tea and...
Details

December 12, 2015–December 13, 2015
.
Miner's Christmas in Columbia. 
Enjoy Christmas decorations and spirit while sitting around a campfire drinking hot cider or coffee. Join in...
Details

December 13, 2015
.
Christmas Equestrian Parade at Columbia SHP. 
Sponsored by the Mid Valley Unit of the Backcountry Horsemen of California.
Details

December 13, 2015
.
33rd Annual Las Posadas Nativity Procession. 
A Spanish tradition that re-enacts the biblical story of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter with a distinctive 1850s...
Details

December 19, 2015–December 20, 2015
.
Miner's Christmas in Columbia. 
Sit around a campfire drinking hot cider or coffee and join in conversations with miners as they roast chestnuts....
Details

(Events are courtesy of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau)