‘Diggins Tent Town 1852’ returning to Columbia State Historic Park

Bee Staff ReportsMay 26, 2014 

It’s 1852 and a tent city from that period is a great place to visit – even if you wouldn’t want to live there.

Kids and adults visiting Columbia State Historic Park’s annual “Diggins Tent Town 1852” living-history event this week no doubt will love things such as trying outdoor bowling, exploring a mining camp, eating piping-hot sausage buns and enjoying old-time music.

But through talking with docents portraying folks of the period – and perhaps by trying a washboard and tub to do some laundry – they’ll quickly be reminded of the modern conveniences we take for granted.

Diggins, which runs Thursday through Sunday, is sponsored by Friends of Columbia and Columbia State Historic Park. The period is depicted by more than 150 costumed volunteers.

Visitors can experience the events and environment of an 1850s mining camp that is re-created in detail from the clothing, food and powerful stories of early miners as they struggled to “strike it rich,” according to a news release.

They’ll also meet the merchants, artisans and entertainers who have come to Diggins to “mine the miners’ pockets.”

“Interact and observe the lifestyles of the early miners as they prepare their meals, launder their clothing and look for precious gold,” says the news release. “Learn about their crafts, how their children played, their music and other forms of entertainment – including gambling!”

Diggins is a temporary setup separate from the main state historic park. Though called a tent town, it has several wooden buildings, including a theater, a saloon and a shop. No real money is exchanged within Diggins.

Admission at the gate – cash only – is $5 for adults, $1 for children 12 and under. At the gate, visitors can buy “eagles,” coins worth 50 cents each, which are used to pay for food, drinks (ice-cold sarsaparilla) and other purchases within the event.

The costumed docents and volunteers travel from the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego and as far as Oregon to participate in the event each year.

“We really just love to entertain and educate the public on a piece of California’s important history – the Gold Rush,” longtime volunteer Susie Webb said in the news release. “We do it for the love of history.”

There is no charge for parking and admission to Columbia State Historic Park. For more information, contact Columbia Visitor Services at www.parks.ca.gov/Columbia or (209) 588-9128.

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