School Programs

Historic School House - Columbia State ParkPark staff, docent volunteers and concessionaires at Columbia State Historic Park take great pride in presenting a number of quality educational programs for schools. In this way, we help preserve the rich heritage that is an important part of our lives as Californians and in the history of our state. Financial and volunteer support for these programs is provided by Friends of Columbia.

We offer a variety of opportunities for school children to gain firsthand experiences to augment their classroom learning about the California gold rush. In fact, over 15,000 fourth graders attend presentations at Columbia State Historic Park each year.

Parking and admission to the park are free. School groups are welcomed to visit the park at any time for self-guided activities.

Program Notes

Welcome returning schools and teachers. We look forward to seeing you this year for the 2019-2020 programs!

When completing the reservation, you must provide complete and accurate information:

  1. Number of students, 39 people is the Maximum number allowed and that includes students, teacher, and chaperons. Minimum class number of age appropriate 3rd-5th. grade students is 12.
  2. Full name and address of school
  3. Complete email and phone contact info.
  4. Have your credit card ready to place reservation.
  5. Teacher making the reservation must remain with their students for the entire tour and/or Schoolhouse program.

Please carefully read the new Terms & Conditions for attending a Schoolhouse Program and/or Town Tour. They have been modified. These Terms and Conditions will show in a message to you on Bookeo at the time you make your reservation before you confirm your booking. You are required to accept the conditions before you can complete your reservation.

Program Registration

Gold Trek

This is a unique program, offered just a few Thursdays each spring. After a series of in-class programs led by the teacher and based on pre-visit activities in the accompanying teacher’s guide, the students arrive at the park prepared for their Gold Trek. At the school, the students will bake hard-tack and create journals. Teachers will divide the classes into companies after communicating with park staff.

When they arrive at the park, the companies participate in an auction where they have the opportunity to spend or save their money, purchase maps, carts, supplies and shovels, and start on their journey. Along the route to the gold fields, they encounter charlatans, merchants, ferry crossings, and opportunities to make critical decisions that impact their ability to arrive at the diggin’s ready to work.

This program is meant to replicate the experience that many young men faced as they traveled from Stockton to the diggings in search of gold.
This program costs $3.50 per student, and takes approximately 3 hours.

2020 dates are March 5, 12, 19, 26 and April 2, 16.

There will be 3 start times with up to 35 students each time slot allowing us to move more smoothly during the program and have less wait time at the beginning and end of the trek. Treks will commence at 9:30,10:00, or 10:30.

A mandatory virtual pre-lesson is required to prepare the class for Gold Trek. The pre-lesson is offered in January and February, and introduces students to the Gold Rush so they will be better prepared for the Gold Trek, and can have a more enriching experience. The lesson covers historical Gold Rush history, Columbia’s town history, routes of travel, and information about the trek from the Port of Stockton to Columbia. The lesson is approximately ½ hour long.

Contact our PORTS interpreter, Randie Ortloff , and she will assist you with your technology needs. She can be reached at email:

A new teacher’s guide is available at

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

Schoolhouse Living History Program and Town Tour

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensible Gold Rush field trip depending on time constraints an interest. Programs are NOT available the THIRD week in May due to Diggins Tent Town event.

Cost is $30.

Town Tour

The Town Tour consists of a 1-hour program led by park staff starting at the museum and discussing Columbia and the Gold Rush, including the role of fire in the development of Gold Rush towns, the routes miners and merchants took to get to California, where they came from, and how they made their livings in Columbia. Included in the town tour program is a hands-on mining demonstration or general mercantilism, presentation, weather permitting.

Cost is $30.

Columbia Diggins Tent Town Education Days - May 14 & 15, 2020

Each year, docents and staff recreate an early tent town to demonstrate the daily life of Gold Rush mining camps.   Special educational programs for 4th graders are offered on the Thursday and Friday of Columbia Diggins Tent Town.  Students get a chance to tour the camp and interact with characters from 1852.

This program adheres to the state’s curriculum standards, and provides an unbeatable opportunity for students to experience first-hand what they’ve learned in the classroom.  This program is very popular, and reservations are required.

To preserve the learning environment, classes without reservations are not admitted on Thursday or Friday of the event.  The cost is $5/student, which includes $3 worth of “Columbia Eagles” which are redeemed for goods, food or services in the camp, giving students an opportunity to interact in the mercantile economy of the camp.

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

• PORTS Columbia SHP is a host site for the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program, or PORTS. This program uses videoconference technology to link students to park personnel and the California gold rush. It introduces California content standards in a fun and interactive way. Click here for a direct link, or go to school programs for a better overview offered by the California State Parks.

• Passports -Columbia’s Passports  is a self-guided touring aid where students are required to find, identify and list items found in locations throughout the park. It’s a treasure hunt of information where they learn firsthand about details of the mining days. It meets the California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content.
Passports can be purchased for $1 each in the museum or ordered in advance of your school trip by clicking  here to download and print a Passport order form. Due to high demand for the Passports, prepaid orders are filled first and no orders are shipped without prepayment.