The Anecdotal History of Columbia
As a class project, the students of Mrs. Øydegaard's Hands-on History elective at a local elementary school, gathered a plethora of tales representing each decade of 20th century Columbia State Historic Park history. Columbia, known since the early gold rush years, as the "Gem of the Southern Mines," has been a town since 1850 and a state historic park since 1945. Thousands of school children and other visitors come each year to experience a real gold rush town and, as you can learn from the Columbia Memories recorded here, they keep coming back for a myriad of good reasons.
A memory might not make it into the history book, lacking factual backing, but even so, it ought to have a place to be recorded and shared. Many a memory that seemed too fanciful to be true has been validated by some late-coming evidence. On the other hand, and probably more often, stories are related as fact, when they ought to be retold as “just stories,” lacking significant reality and truth (an “art form” the movie-making industry has perfected).
Here we share our Columbia memories, whether laden with fact or fiction, as well as give readers a chance to compare, validate, or provide the missing factual information making this blog an educational exchange as well as a place to tell our cherished tales of Columbia.
Friday, August 12, 2011
When I think of Columbia State Park I think of ice cream. I will never forget my daughter's first trip to Columbia . It always brings a smile to my face as I remember that day. She was about two years old, of course, walking all by herself. She thought she was a big girl; she didn’t want to hold my hand. As we walked along the wooden sidewalks she waddled and stumbled with her little pink cowboy boots, but never fell down. She always had a giant smile on her sweet face. As she walked by the stores people always turned to look and admire her white blonde hair and happy disposition. So little, but so full of determination. She knew exactly where she was headed. As we strolled through town she would say words like “horse”, as the stagecoach would drive by, or “candy” as we went by the candy store. But, truly the only thing she cared about was getting to the ice cream parlor. She would very quietly say in her soft tiny voice, “ I want nilla ice cream pweaz”. As I looked into her big brown eyes, there was no way I was saying “no”. She could pretty much get whatever she wanted. We weren’t the fastest walkers, but we finally made it down to the ice cream parlor. Vanilla ice cream cones were ordered for everyone in the family. As each of us received our ice cream cone, we said “thank you” and went outside.There we sat and watched the people walking by, as we licked away at our delicious ice cream. As my daughter began to take her first lick of her yummy ice cream, it toppled down her shirt and landed on the dirt ground. No five second rule would apply here, we could not salvage it. Big crocodile tears began to well up in those big brown eyes, and the tears began to flow. So I held her hand and we walked back into the ice cream parlor. Lucky for us there was a very kind girl working at the ice cream counter, she instantly knew what had happened, once she saw us coming through the door. With a smile on her face she scooped another ice cream cone and instantly the tears were gone. This made for a very happy ending.
It’s amazing how simple sweet memories of your children become photos in your mind. I’ll never forget Kailie’s ice cream cone at Columbia State Park. Memories are our life’s little treasures. As my daughter grows older I hold her Columbia moment close to my heart.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Little did I know, until we read it in the newspapers, what we had really escaped. The event was the annual Fireman’s Muster. A fight did erupt as Dad feared it would. In the seconds after we left the candy store and before the hail stopped the melee, someone threw a rock and broke the candy store's big glass windows. The paper said that some people inside were hurt. That could have been us. We could have been cut by glass or worse if Dad hadn’t acted just when he did to get his family out of danger. I also felt sure that God had sent the hail as his opinion of the whole mess.
It was a beautiful spring day, I remember the flowers in bloom, especially the daffodils (they have always been my favorite). The hills were green and seemed to go on and on.
When we arrived at Columbia State Park I vividly remember the old wooden sidewalks and the old brick buildings. The kids and I went into an old mercantile store and bought sarsaparillas, and some hard candy sticks. My son loved grape and my daughter loved root beer. After we walked all around admiring the town, we found an area by some large rocks. We set out our big glue blanket and had a lovely picnic. Everything always seems to taste so good when you are outside. The warmth of the sun on our backs and the smell of the fresh mountain air was so relaxing. The children played on the rocks. I had to keep telling my son to be careful. They dug in the dirt. My son was so sure he would find a nugget. He never found any gold, but he had fun trying.
My son is now a grown man, but he still remembers his search for gold on his trip to Columbia. We had a beautiful day at the park. We finished our picnic with some homemade chocolate chip cookies and packed up and headed home. The children slept the whole way, peace and quiet. A nice end to a family day together at Columbia State Park.