Sunday, May 1, 2011

Columbia, California and The Gold Rush

Neither Wayne nor I have ever visited Yosemite National Park so, when we left Porterville, we headed to Fresno and on to Columbia, California. We stayed one night at a lovely little campground in Fresno but moved on the following day. 

Our campground in Columbia is called Marble Quarry for good reason; there's an old quarry on the site. The rock formations here are the most unique I've ever seen -- they're all crooked and twisted; some stacked onto others.  I never got 'round to investigating the geological reason for this...

Entry to Marble Quarry Campground

The lower part of the campground.
We are in the upper part but I didn't photograph it.
 Columbia, California is a true old "gold rush" town; gold found by the Hildreth Party in March 1850. Some $87 million in gold was shipped out of Columbia within an eight year period.  The town's population reached 5,000 before the gold boom ended in the town that became known as "The Gem of The Southern Mines".  Columbia never became a ghost town however and today it remains much like it was in the early days. The town was made a historical state park in 1945.   Here are a few pictures...

The late afternoon we visited, we were the only people there.
There are no tourist shops to speak of. Just old buildings.
You can smell the old, musty stinch even on the street.
I don't think I'd go into any of them.

Suddenly, while I was snapping pictures, I heard the shuffle of steps, mixed witha clinking sound on the wooden walkway. To my surprise (and fear) I saw this old guy heading for the only business that was open.  An old hotel bar.  This guy was dressed in all black, except his brown cowboy boots. He wore "clinking" spurs and a holster with a pistol in it. The seat of his pants were dirty and I'm sure he stunk.  I didn't ask to take this picture of him.  I just did it.
This old schoolhouse was a few blocks from downtown.
 We plan to make a full day trip to Yosemite while we're in the area.

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