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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
May 11, 2016–May 15, 2016
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"Jumping Frog" tale by Sierra Repertory Theatre Jr.. 
Brand new children's musical (based on "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County " by Mark Twain) written by and starring...
Details

May 11, 2016–May 15, 2016
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Fallon House Theatre "Hank Williams: Lost Highway". 
Country-Western icon Hank Williams touched millions in his short career. This spectacular musical biography will break...
Details

May 14, 2016
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Pet Blessing at the 49ers Church in Columbia. 
Starting at 10 am there will be a pet blessing on the lawn of the church. Bring your well-behaved pets on leases or in...
Details

May 14, 2016
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Gold Rush Activity Day at Columbia State Historic Park. 
1-4 pm at Columbia State Historic Park. Special exhibits, hands-on activities led by docents in period dress. Free....
Details

May 14, 2016
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2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

May 19, 2016–May 22, 2016
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Columbia State Historic Park "Diggins 1852". 
Step back in time to 1852 and discover what life was like in a gold diggings encampment.! Over 150 volunteers help...
Details

May 30, 2016
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Columbia State Historic Park "Memorial Day Salute". 
Memorial Day services start at 10:55am on Monday, May 30, in the old Veterans section at the Columbia Cemetery. There...
Details

June 11, 2016
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Gold Rush Activity Day at Columbia State Park. 
1-4 pm at Columbia State Historic Park. Special exhibits, hands-on activities led by docents in period dress. Free.
Details

June 11, 2016
.
Columbia State Historic Park "Ghost Tours". 
Have you heard there are GHOSTS in Columbia? Join us on a tour to find out where they lurk and the stories behind those...
Details

June 17, 2016–June 19, 2016
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Father's Day "Golden Jubilee" Fly–In. 
For two half-days (Friday and Sunday) and a full day on Saturday, Columbia Airport will celebrate its Golden Jubilee,...
Details

June 17, 2016–June 19, 2016
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"State Fair" at the Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

June 18, 2016–June 19, 2016
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Father's Day Fly–In at Columbia Airport. 
From 9am to 4pm on Saturday and 9am to 3pm on Sunday enjoy a pancake breakfast, booths, vendors, plane rides and...
Details

June 20, 2016–June 24, 2016
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Summer Arts Camp in Columbia. 
Summer Arts Camp is designed to partner children ages 7 to 12 years with local professional artists and performers so...
Details

June 22, 2016–June 26, 2016
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"State Fair" at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

June 29, 2016–July 3, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

July 4, 2016
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Columbia's Glorious 4th of July Celebration. 
Celebrate our nation's birthday the old fashion way! A glorious 49er Parade 1852 style. Then listen to the Mother Lode...
Details

July 6, 2016–July 10, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

July 9, 2016
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Columbia State Historic Park "Ghost Tours". 
Have you heard there are GHOSTS in Columbia? Join us on a tour to find out where they lurk and the stories behind those...
Details

July 13, 2016–July 17, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

July 16, 2016
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Big Band Street Dance in Columbia. 
Step back into the 1940s and put on your dancing shoes to boogie down to the music of Rod Harris and his orchestra....
Details

July 20, 2016–July 24, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

July 23, 2016
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History's Mysteries in Columbia SHP. 
For four Saturdays, we invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800s. You...
Details

July 27, 2016–July 31, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

July 30, 2016
.
Columbia College Jazz Series. 
At 7:30 pm on Saturday, The Columbia Big Band presents the Bria Skonberg Quatret. Tickets $18. Please RSVP at 588-5126
Details

August 3, 2016–August 7, 2016
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“State Fair” the Musical at Fallon House. 
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State...
Details

August 6, 2016
.
History's Mysteries in Columbia SHP. 
For four Saturdays, we invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800s. You...
Details

August 13, 2016
.
Columbia State Historic Park "Ghost Tours". 
Have you heard there are GHOSTS in Columbia? Join us on a tour to find out where they lurk and the stories behind those...
Details

August 20, 2016
.
History's Mysteries in Columbia SHP. 
For four Saturdays, we invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800s. You...
Details

August 27, 2016
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The Dadgum Button Show in Columbia SHP. 
Check out the antique buttons and button jewelry at Columbia's Dadgum Button Show, held in Angelo's Hall from 10 am to...
Details

September 2, 2016–September 4, 2016
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"The Robber Bridegroom" at the Fallon House. 
Performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park by the Sierra Repertory Theatre. A...
Details

September 3, 2016
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History's Mysteries in Columbia SHP. 
Final Day! We invite families or groups to solve an actual crime that occurred in Columbia in the 1800s. You will...
Details

September 7, 2016–September 11, 2016
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"The Robber Bridegroom" at the Fallon House. 
Performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park by the Sierra Repertory Theatre. A...
Details

September 10, 2016
.
California Statehood Day Parade in Columbia. 
California became a state on September 9, 1850 - 165 years ago!! The Statehood Day Parade in Columbia is sponsored by...
Details

September 10, 2016
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Columbia State Historic Park "Ghost Tours". 
Have you heard there are GHOSTS in Columbia? Join us on a tour to find out where they lurk and the stories behind those...
Details

September 14, 2016–September 18, 2016
.
"The Robber Bridegroom" at the Fallon House. 
Performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park by the Sierra Repertory Theatre. A...
Details

September 17, 2016
.
"Back to School 1861" in Columbia SHP. 
Join us for a beautiful Saturday evening 4 to 7 pm at the historic schoolhouse. During this reminiscent event, take a...
Details

September 18, 2016
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44th Annual Columbia Art Show. 
This fine art show features approximately 50 local painters, potters, sculptures and photographers who will display...
Details

September 21, 2016–September 25, 2016
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"The Robber Bridegroom" at the Fallon House. 
Performed at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park by the Sierra Repertory Theatre. A...
Details

September 23, 2016–September 24, 2016
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"Stories in Stone" tours in Columbia SH. 
Visitors are led through Columbia's historic cemetery by costumed volunteers carrying lanterns where they will visit 13...
Details

September 24, 2016
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34th Annual "Fiddle & Bango" Contest & Chili Cook–Off at Columbia SHP. 
The Fiddle Bango Contest (yes, "bango") is held at the gazebo in Columbia State Historic Park on Saturday 10:30 am to 4...
Details

September 24, 2016
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34th Annual "Poison Oak Show" in Columbia SHP. 
Aren't you just itchin' to participate? This event is like a traditional flower show, except all entries must include...
Details

September 30, 2016–October 1, 2016
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"Stories in Stone" tours in Columbia SH. 
Visitors are led through Columbia's historic cemetery by costumed volunteers carrying lanterns where they will visit 13...
Details

September 30, 2016–October 2, 2016
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Tuolumne Writer's Retreat in Columbia SHP. 
3 day event for writers. Contact for information.
Details

October 1, 2016
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Bach Festival "Sing Along" at Church of the 49ers. 
The "Baroque Sing Along" will be presented at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Columbia on Saturday at 3 pm. Lead by a...
Details

October 8, 2016–October 9, 2016
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32nd Annual Harvest Festifall in Columbia SHP. 
Join us for a cornucopia of crafts, comestibles, demonstrations of skills, and music and dancing on the shady streets...
Details

October 8, 2016
.
Columbia State Historic Park "Ghost Tours". 
Have you heard there are GHOSTS in Columbia? Join us on a tour to find out where they lurk and the stories behind those...
Details

October 9, 2016
.
Bach Festival "Youth Finalists Concert" at Church of the 49ers. 
Presented at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Columbia on Sunday at 3:00 pm. Marvelous demonstrations of young local...
Details

October 14, 2016–October 16, 2016
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"Church Basement Ladies 3: A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre.. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face change head-on...
Details

October 19, 2016–October 23, 2016
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"Church Basement Ladies 3: A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is1960 and they are required to face change head-on with...
Details

October 23, 2016
.
Bach Festival "Locals' Concert" at the Church of the 49ers. 
Fine community vocalists and instrumentalists in an afternoon of chamber music of the Baroque at the 1st Presbyterian...
Details

October 26, 2016–October 30, 2016
.
"Church Basement Ladies : A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre.. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face change head-on...
Details

October 29, 2016
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"Boo Boulevard" Halloween in Columbia. 
Columbia welcomes children in costume for Trick or Treating from 2 pm to 5 pm. Wagon rides, games, and more! This free...
Details

October 29, 2016
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10th Annual "Illumination Of The Jack–O'–Lanterns". 
Carve your pumpkins, turning them into classic peg-toothed grinners, artfully chiseled ghouls, leering witches, or any...
Details

November 2, 2016–November 6, 2016
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"Church Basement Ladies 3: A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face change head-on...
Details

November 9, 2016–November 13, 2016
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"Church Basement Ladies 3: Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face change head-on...
Details

November 11, 2016
.
Veterans Day Remembrance at Columbia SHP. 
On Friday in Columbia's historic cemetery at 10:55 am, the Columbia Foot Dragoons explain the significance of Veterans...
Details

November 16, 2016–November 20, 2016
.
"Church Basement Ladies 3: A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre.. 
In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face change head-on...
Details

November 23, 2016–November 27, 2016
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"Church Basement Ladies 3: A Mighty Fortress is our Basement" by Sierra Repertory Theatre.. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!! In this latest installment of the "Church Basement Ladies", it is 1960 and they are required to face...
Details

November 25, 2016–November 27, 2016
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Columbia Candy Kitchen Cane Making. 
For four weekends at 12 noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm you can participate in making traditional candy canes during the holidays....
Details

December 2, 2016–December 3, 2016
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Lamplight Tours in Columbia SHP. 
On Friday or Saturday evening join us for a walking play that wanders the streets of Columbia at night and ends with...
Details

December 3, 2016–December 4, 2016
.
Columbia Candy Kitchen Cane Making. 
For four weekends at 12 noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm you can participate in making traditional candy canes during the holidays....
Details

December 9, 2016
.
Victorian Feast in Columbia SHP at the City Hotel. 
For over thirty years, the historic City Hotel has celebrated the holidays by recreating a 120-year-old banquet...
Details

December 10, 2016–December 11, 2016
.
Columbia Candy Kitchen Cane Making. 
For four weekends at 12 noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm you can participate in making traditional candy canes during the holidays....
Details

December 10, 2016–December 11, 2016
.
"A Miner's Christmas" at Columbia SHP. 
Sit around a campfire drinking hot cider or coffee and join in conversations with miners as they roast chestnuts....
Details

December 11, 2016
.
Victorian Feast in Columbia SHP at the City Hotel. 
For over thirty years, the historic City Hotel has celebrated the holidays by recreating a 120-year-old banquet...
Details

December 11, 2016
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Columbia All–Equestrian Christmas Parade. 
Sunday at 11 am. This parade is open to all ages of equine riders/drivers. Everyone is encouraged to bring an unwrapped...
Details

December 11, 2016
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34th Annual Las Posadas Nativity Procession. 
Las Posadas is a Spanish tradition that re-enacts the biblical story of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in...
Details

December 15, 2016–December 16, 2016
.
Victorian Feast in Columbia SHP at the City Hotel. 
For over thirty years, the historic City Hotel has celebrated the holidays by recreating a 120-year-old banquet...
Details

December 17, 2016–December 18, 2016
.
Columbia Candy Kitchen Cane Making. 
For four weekends at 12 noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm you can participate in making traditional candy canes during the holidays....
Details

December 17, 2016–December 18, 2016
.
"A Miner's Christmas" at Columbia SHP. 
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)