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Sacramento & Gold Country

Sacramento & Gold Country

Your students will be amazed as they stand underneath the dome of the California State Capitol Building.  Then its off to Old Town Sacramento for some flavor of the Gold Rush along with a visit to the California State Railroad museum.  Sutter's Fort comes alive as your students may see reenactors in period costume.  Then its up to the gold discovery site in Coloma with stories of the characters of the Gold Rush.  Finally students get to try their hand at panning for gold on the banks of the American River.

  • Program Highlights

    Almost all American Christian Tours Education Programs to Sacramento and Gold Country, will typically include:
    • California State Capitol Building tour
    • Capitol Grounds tour
    • Old Town Sacramento
    • California State Railroad Museum
    • Sutter's Fort
    • Gold Discovery Museum in Coloma
    • Sutter Mill and the gold discovery site.
    • Hike to Marshall's Monument and cabin.
    • Panning for gold in the American River

    Many, time permitting, may include:

    • Time with a Gold Rush character
    • Visits to surrounding mines
  • Climate

    Sacramento has a Mediterranean-type climate.  Winters can be damp and wet, and the summers are usually hot and dry with a lot of sunshine.  The wet season is generally October through April.  The monthly daily average temperature ranging from about 45° F in December to 75 °F in July. In the summer, a breeze frequently blows in called the "Delta Breeze."  It travels from the San Francisco Bay, up through the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers.  This breeze causes the temperatures to cool down sharply at night.  


    In Coloma Valley, the spring and fall temperatures have daytime high temperatures ranging from 60° - 80°F. Spring flowers and fall foliage are spectacular. There is some rainfall in spring, but usually not as much as in the winter.


    Summers are hot. Daytime temperatures are typically are usually around 90° F and can often spike to over 100°.  Little rain falls in the Coloma Valley between June and October.

  • Geography

    The City of Sacramento is located at the coming together of the Sacramento and the American Rivers and has a deepwater port connected to the San Francisco Bay by a channel through Suisun Bay and the Sacramento River Delta. It is the shipping and rail center for the Sacramento Valley, fruit, vegetables, rice, wheat, dairy goods and beef. Food processing is among the major industries in the area.

    Much of the land to the west of the city is a flood control basin. As a result, the greater metropolitan area sprawls only four miles west of downtown but 30 miles northeast and east, into the Sierra Nevada foothills, and 10 miles to the south into valley farmland.


    The name Coloma comes from the native Nisenan Indian name for the valley Cullumah, meaning "beautiful."  And it is beautiful.  Coloma is nestled in a valley along the western shore of the South Fork of the American River in the Sierra Nevada foothills some 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. 

  • Essentials

    • Standing beneath the dome of the California State Capitol Building.
    • Walking on the wooden sidewalks and cobblestone streets of Old Town Sacramento.
    • Seeing Patty Reed's doll at Sutter's Fort.
    • Walking through the St. Hyacinthe, a sleeping car, at the California State Railroad Museum.  It moves!
    • Watching the squirrels at play among the orange trees on the State Capitol Building grounds.
    • Walking to the spot in the tailrace of Sutter's Mill where gold was first discovered and imagining how it would change the world.
    • Standing in the cold water of the American River panning for gold.
    • Hiking up to Marshall's Monument and seeing an incredible view of Coloma Valley.
    • Walking across the old steel bridge built in the 1930's that spans the American River.  It is on the site of the original bridge built in 1849 - the first bridge built west of the Mississippi River.
  • Get Prepared

    This is America, Charlie Brown - The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad [VHS] (1988)
    The Gold Rush, PBS, 1998 (DVD and VHS)
    The Gold Rush is a one-hour historical documentary about the great 19th-century quest for gold in frontier California. Narrated by John Lithgow, the program intertwines historic photos with current footage of California gold country. Interspersed throughout are passages from 49er diaries and interviews with historians.

    The preamble to the California State Constitution.
    Notice that the founders of California were grateful to Almighty God for their freedoms!:

    California Constitution Preamble
    We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.

    Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express by Michael P. Spradlin, Layne Johnson (Illustrator) (2010).

    By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman, 1963. A twelve-year old boy named Jack, who has lived with his Aunt Arabella since his parents died, heads to California to search for gold after Aunt Arabella loses all her money. He is accompanied by Aunt Arabella's butler Praiseworthy.

    Listen to the sound of a steam train. Sacramento was the western terminus of the Central Pacific Railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad joined with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869, linking the nation from coast to coast and opening up the west for rapid development. The transcontinental train was very important to the development of California.

    Listen to the short story, The Celebrated Jumping From of Calaveras County, written by Mark Twain in 1867.

  • Senses


    Forty-niner Flapjacks!


    This is a very old recipe from the California Gold Rush days. These flapjacks were very popular in the gold camps. 


    2 cups sour milk (regular milk can be used) 

    1 cup cornmeal 

    2 tablespoons flour 

    1 egg 

    1/2 teaspoon salt 

    1 teaspoon baking soda 

    Water as needed 


    Mix the milk, cornmeal, flour and egg together. 

    Add the baking soda and salt, mix. Add a little water if needed (if it looks too dry). 

    Drop dough onto a greased skillet (medium heat). 

    When bubbles appear and the bottom of the flapjacks are browned, turn and cook until the other side is brown. 


    On top of these flapjacks they served syrup, honey, jam or whatever was available.

    Find a bag of Blue Diamond Almonds.  Founded in 1910, Blue Diamond is headquartered in Sacramento.  Almonds are California's largest food export and the #1 specialty crop in America.
    It can be warm in Sacramento.  Make sure to drink lots of water.  But don't forget all the vegetables that are grown around Sacramento.  Maybe a glass of tomato juice or V8, would remind you of all the agriculture nearby!
    It usually gets pretty warm in Coloma with a lot of hiking around.  Make sure to drink plenty of water.
  • In A Word:

    Sacramento - Discover!

    Gold Country - Eureka!

  • Surprises:

    • Finding out how the Old Town area of Sacramento area was raised about 9 feet back in 1868.
    • Learning that the people who really made the most money during the Gold Rush were the shopkeepers not the miners.
    • Sutter's Fort is the oldest restored fort in the United States.  It was built in 1839.
    • Gold was discovered in Coloma on January 24, 1848.  By 1850, over 300,000 gold seekers had flooded the area.
    • Most miners made about $10-15 a day.  However a pound of beef cost about $10, butter was $20 a pound, eggs were $3 each, and a shovel was around $40.
    • The size of some of the gold nuggets found.  In the Gold Discovery Museum they have actual size replicas of some of the nuggets.  They were huge!

  • Cities/Destinations Included

    • Sacramento
    • Coloma
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