This summer I returned to Coloma and the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park sans 90 fourth graders. I had two historical buildings that I wanted to sketch: the Coloma schoolhouse and Wah Hop Store.
I headed to Coloma from my mother’s house in Penn Valley, early in the morning, to avoid the oppressive heat of the foothills in summer. Even though the spread makes it look like the school and Chinese store sit right next to each other, they are on opposite sides of the the town. I just used my artistic license (it hasn’t expired just yet).
The original school burned down and was replaced by the abandoned Slatington School which was nine miles away and moved to it’s present site. The school was reopened in January of 1920.
Painters painting the school as I am painting the Coloma school. The ranger came by to inspect our work.
After sketching the school and store, I headed up the hill to sketch one touchstone that I keep returning to, the James Marshall Monument.
I filled in the page with the last two paragraphs of H. W. Brands seminal work The Age of Gold. This book, along with J. S. Holliday’s groundbreaking masterpiece, The World Rushed In, are the two greater books written about California’s Gold Rush. the last paragraph of Brands history is quoted here:
Yet he was remembered after his death, and a statue was erected in his honor. The statue stands above the river at Coloma, in a hillside copse of trees. From a stone pedestal Marshall gazes out across the valley. The mill is long gone, and the millrace obliterated. But so is most evidence of the hordes who followed Marshall here, and the general scene isn’t much different that it was on that sunny, cold morning in 1848, when the carpenter’s eye fell on the glittering yellow flakes that set the heart of the world aquiver.