Marshall Gold Discovery Park Visitors See History In Action

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Visitors to James Marshall Gold Discovery Historic Park in Coloma are getting an added treat.

Workers were placing the final trusses in place for a new replica of Sutter’s Mill where the California Gold Rush was spawned.

The current replica of the mill is a few hundred yards away and is falling apart. A special viewing area has been set up for construction spectators a stone’s throw from where the original mill stood on the banks of the American River.

Workers building the mill for mill operator James Marshall on land owned by John Sutter discovered gold and the mill never operated as planned.

“They tried to keep it a secret but the word got out and the world rushed in. It was hard to staff the mill with workers,” Park Superintendent Jeremy McReynolds.

The new replica uses timber framing that was shaped by broad axes. Origingal construction techniques were used when possible.

“It’s all put together with mortise and tenon joinery and wooden pins,” Sherwood Forest Timber Frames owner Paul Oatman.

Oatman put the structure together before it was moved to the site for installation. He said the unique project will be his legacy. He feels connected with the project because he did a lot of his own research to construct the mill and he is from New Jersey where John Marshall all originated.

While Marshall didn’t have the advantage of using a six story crane used to install the trusses, it was still a treat for spectators who came to watch workers from a special viewing area under a tent.

Alexsis Silvestra was visiting her second cousin Jennie Piper, who had visited the park many times before.

“We hit gold today, we weren’t expecting them to be moving it. We came just to learn the history and it’s been great,” said Silvestra.

“We just sort of wandered over here and they said they’re just replicating the mill in the orginal area so we were pretty excited,” said Piper.

The project will be finished in time for a dedication in January. In the meantime, park officials say spectators are welcome to view the construction which will go on for several more weeks.

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