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: ?

By Stephanie Everts Ben-Amotz
For Natalie

Yes, I did go to Columbia as a child.  That’s why I wanted to go again and bring Jonah.  And what I remember was (I was probably 7 or 8) it was very hot and dusty, and a lot more historical than when the 4 of us went a few years ago.  Not so much little things to buy.  And I was excited because it seemed like an authentic old west sort of town, just like I saw in “Gunsmoke” or “Maverick.”  I liked the old jail, and just the streets and the feel of it.

But, in wandering through I found (this is how I remember it) a pit with bars across the top, and the sign said it was for the Chinese who were brought to work there.  I was so shocked and horrified; it is what I remember most of all.   I knew nothing about it until then, any of the history of the Chinese in the California, how they came to be there, or how they were treated.  But it looked so degrading.  I could imagine being down there with all the town people above.  It was sickening.  I was very disturbed by it, and kind of confused.  It was new information.

1 comment:

  1. I have never heard of any pit like that in Columbia. Chinese workers were not slaves to any Anglo men. Actually the slaves in Columbia were the prostitutes to a Chinese "Benevolent" leader. For a closer look at the Chinese in Columbia, see
    Not sure what year you came, but if such a sign existed it was someone's bad idea of misrepresenting history to tantalize.
    Floyd Oydegaard