Columbia in 1970

The Anecdotal History of Columbia

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.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Date: ca. 1965

By Janet Ambrose
For Kailie

It was the early 1960’s, my children were very young and we were always looking for something to do on our Saturdays.  My husband and I decided to take a drive and visit Columbia State Park.  We had heard about the park from some friends and thought it would be a great day for our family to spend some time together.  Everyone was excited, the children giggled and laughed with excitement.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed to the foothills.

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.

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