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Coloma is the town where an unexpected event happened that shaped history of the Western Frontier. In the winter of 1848 a man building a sawmill on the South Fork of the American River spotted some bright nuggets in the tailrace waters below. Sure enough, it was gold! Though he tried to keep his discovery a secret, word spread quickly and it triggered the California Gold Rush of ?49.
Thousands of people arrived from far and wide, making Coloma one of the fastest growing boomtowns in the country. Claims were staked, camps and makeshift homes were built, and hotels and saloons sprung up almost overnight. Everyone wanted their cut of the land?s wealth. For many it was Coloma or Bust!