Gold Rush Christmas : Columbia

posted in: Family Getaways | 15


There is no better way to experience a gold rush Christmas than to go to one of the most preserved gold rush towns in California. Here you will get a glimpse of what life looked like for those who lived during the early California period. Cars are banned from entering the streets so you don’t have to worry about cars when exploring the streets of Columbia with your children.

Did you know that this was the wealthiest town during 1850 and 1860? The main reason why this was so is because 35 pounds of gold was found in just two days.  You can just imagine how many miner ran to Columbia once word got out? More than 5000 miners started searching for gold near the river beds. It took 15 years for miners to be able to find any gold and because of the shortage of water this town experienced two fires and in 1870s this town was no more than a ghost town.

Columbia is now a state historic park.


Las Posada Nativity Procession


This was one of the best Christmas re-enactments we have ever seen with Mary on the donkey and Joseph looking for an inn so that Mary could give birth to baby Jesus. Because of all the dimness and candles we felt like we traveled back in time to when miners celebrated Christmas in the 1983. The scene was magical with candles lite up on the ground and everyone holding a candle in their hands. Everyone joined in singing carols. Towards the end a prayer was said and honestly we felt like it was the best way to honor Christ this time of year. Our children loved it so much. What a great way it was for us to celebrate Peters 14th birthday.


Candle Science:

Did you know that miners did not wear hard hats? Instead they had cloth hats and they placed a miners candlestick by bending the end of the spike to hold their candle.

We can’t believe that we have never done this experiment before because it is so easy to do and so neat to watch. What you need is : candle, matches, plate, class cup, and a water bottle with food coloring added to the water.

Place the candle on the plate, light the candle, and add water to the plate. Then you want to place a glass cup on top of the candle and watch the magic.  We love science because often times science looks like some sort of magic trick has been preformed but in reality the air is starting to heat up inside the glass and the heated air expands and as it expands the water comes out from under the glass container.




Things to do in Columbia

Do you still have some Christmas shopping to do? Then you’ll want to do some of that here in these 150 year old buildings which are filled with antique goodies from clothing to home dΓ©cor.

If you crave tasty candy or you just want to see a beautiful candy shop then you won’t want to miss Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen. They sell some large candy canes there.

You’ll also want to stop by the bowling saloon exhibit and bowl like they did in the past.

You can pan for gold here, ride a stagecoach, tour the town and see its museums, schoolhouse, jail, and cemetery.

If your feeling crafty then you could spend some time painting candles.

If you love to dress up and take pictures then you might really enjoy taking your picture at Kamice’s Photographic Establishment like we did.


Staying the Night

Did you know that you can actually stay over night here and that’s exactly what we did. We stayed in Cottage #15. We stayed in a house which had three bedrooms. You could stay in the hotel at Fallon Hotel or City Hotel. However, there is six of us so a hotel room is too small for us. The cottage was so clean. We loved being able to stroll the streets of Columbia early in the morning with no other soul out exploring. Visit to book your stay. Campground: Columbia Hotels and Cottages.



Making your Very own Candy Canes:


After seeing such large candy canes at Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen we were inspired to make candy canes on our own. We were surprised by how easy it is to make candy canes ourselves. We used brown sugar instead of graduated sugar so our mixture was darker. To learn  how to make candy canes please watch the videos below. 



Thank you for reading our post. We will now be sharing a new post every Monday and Thursday, 8pm Pacific Time instead of 1pm.

Merry Christmas friends. What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

15 Responses

  1. What an amazing adventure! It looks like you all had fun. I loved the make your own candy canes. I’m going to have to try that with my kiddos.

  2. Susan Hawkins

    I love, love your article! We sat next to you at the Posada. I think my husband may have taken the family photo….
    Your family was awesome to sit next to by the way!(so well behaved…we did notice that πŸ™‚ We too home schooled for 9 years…but only 1 child! Our congratulations to you for all of your hard work! Thank you again we so enjoyed your article!! We are blessed to now live in Columbia. We never grow tired of going down town! We lived in a near by town for 27 years. You can imagine how many times our son came here for fun education!..played violin on the street to practice his fiddle tunes..and got a few bucks for his practice session! Keep up the good work!

  3. Homegrown Adventures

    Hi Susan,
    Yes I remember you and your husband. Thank you for taking our picture and for your sweet comments. How awesome that you homeschooled your son as well. We live only a few hours away from Columbia and one of my favorite clothes shops is located there. I can’t think of the name. πŸ™‚ We too live in a gold rush town my two girls (Esther 11 years old and Elizabeth 8 years old) started playing piano today. We plan to have our son Peter start taking guitar lessons. That would be such a great idea to have him play in our small town near the shops. I’m so glad you found me and left a comment. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year dear. πŸ™‚

  4. As a mother, who is contemplating the idea of homeschooling, I’m thrilled to have found your blog. I can’t wait to follow along. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your visit to Columbia. I just want to share with you that “Mary” and “Joseph” are my daughter and son. Las Posadas in Columbia began 34 years ago. I played the role of Mary for 30 years and now it has been given to my daughter. 4 of my 5 children have played the role of baby Jesus over the years. It is wonderful to know that this event meant so much to your family. If your girls would like to participate next year, we would love to have them as Angels!

  6. In my haste to respond I typed the wrong name!

  7. Homegrown Adventures

    Hi dearest Trisha,
    First I wanted to say that your daughter was the most beautiful Mary we had ever seen. I could not stop staring and smiling at her. Please let her know I said that. It was such a magical experience for all of us. My girls would love to be the angels. They actually asked how they could participate next year. I’ll email you. What a true blessing your family has been for all those that have come to see Las Posada. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from my family to yours Love. πŸ™‚

  8. Merry Christmas Homegrown Adventures,
    Thank you. I look forward to corresponding through email and having you return next year to participate in this special event!

  9. What an amazing experience! Your pictures are so beautiful!

  10. What a great trip! I think I’d learn just as much as the kids! The candy canes look fun too!

  11. What an incredible way to celebrate the holiday and relive the birth of Christ. I love visiting historical areas that preserve the authenticity of that era, this looks like
    an amazing place to visit. So glad you and your family enjoyed it! You have a beautiful family!

  12. Bridget Riepl

    this looks like the best time ever and I must say-your pictures are absolutely, jaw droppingly gorgeous. xo

  13. I love the pictures you got, ghost towns always make for the best backdrops for photos. πŸ™‚ I’ve actually never been to Columbia, we’ll have to make the trek down there sometime. Thanks for the great suggestion! And making candy canes, I think I’ll do that with my little ones next year.

  14. Wow, I have never been to Columbia, but that looks like a great trip to take with the family sometime soon.
    I also love how you let your kids make their own candy canes, what an awesome experiment for kids!

  15. I love these photos and what a fun trip! Your family is so cute and cooperative. My kids would make grouchy faces and act like they were not having fun.

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