15700 Old Oak Ranch Road Sonora, CA 95370  |  (209) 532–3691

Gold Rush

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1, 2, and 3-Day Programs Available

kids panning for gold The Gold Rush comes to life at SOS! Our Gold Rush Experience takes students back in time as they are taught by instructors in historically inspired clothing. Students are led on tours through one of the most successful Gold Rush towns, Columbia, and have class in the first two-story, brick schoolhouse in California. At our site, they get to experience the pre-Gold Rush material culture of the Me Wuk people and search for gold using rockers, long toms, and gold pans. Our program explores many aspects of the Gold Rush (hitting California Common Core Standards) including the social, environmental, and historical impacts of this fascinating time in California's history.

Gold Rush Day Classes

Below are the activities offered during the day.

gold panning Gold Panning
Offered as a part of a 1, 2 or 3-day program, students will pan for real gold in our panning troughs. Each student will also receive a vial to keep their found treasures in.  The panning activities occur near the entrance of a gold mine that was used during the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Life of a Miner Life of a Miner
Offered as a part of a 1, 2 or 3-day program, students will build a shelter and learn about the miners' ways of life on their journeys to the gold fields.  During a 3-day program, students will also have a chance to write a letter home about their gold rush experience.
Long Tom Mining Long Tom Mining
Offered as a part of a 1, 2 or 3-day program, students will work the long tom and quickly realize why the introduction of this apparatus was a welcome addition to the gold mining industry. The introduction of the long tom reduced the amount of work required to wash sediments and allowed groups of ten miners to wash tons of sediments in a day compared to three miners working with a cradle.
Cradle Mining Cradle Mining
Offered as a part of a 1, 2 or 3-day program, students will work their own cradles and learn how the cradle saved time, labor and allowed the processing of greater amounts of sediments to produce more gold. This activity is conducted in groups of three and requires teamwork for success.
The Ditch Hike The Ditch Hike
Offered as a part of the 3-day program, students will hike along the historic main Tuolumne County Ditch. Ditch systems found in nearly all of the motherlode regions of California supplied a steady flow of water so mining operations could be conducted year round.
Me-Wuk Life Me-Wuk Life
Offered as a part of a 1, 2 or 3-day program, students will step back in time in our Me-Wuk village and learn how the Me-Wuk used the natural resources of the forests and foothills to meet all of their survival needs.

Your Schedule

Once you make a reservation, you will work with our Program Coordinators to customize a schedule depending on the length of your stay.
15700 Old Oak Ranch Road
Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 532–3691


This school district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, gender, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law, ordinance or regulation, in its educational program(s) or employment.

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