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

Gold Rush

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1, 2, and 3-Day Programs Available

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.

Gold Rush Night Classes

Each evening you can choose up to 2 classes, evening classes are 1 hour long each.



Students travel through time as they learn traditional folk and line dances that people of the Gold Rush Era would have learned. Complete with historically accurate costumes, dance moves, and music... it's hard to believe it's not 1850.


Night Hike

Take your students on a wonderful hike exploring the world of nocturnal animals and their amazing adaptations. Activities are designed to allow students to challenge their senses to get a feel for what it's like to be a nocturnal creature out in the night!


Who Goes There?

For a lab fee of $1 Students get a chance to learn about owls and their amazing adaptations that allow them to be such successful hunters. After an exploration into the ecology of Owls, students get the opportunity to be scientists investigating barn owl pellets from Washington and discovering the ecosystem from which they come from.


Historic Storyteller

For an extra fee (prices vary depending on the presenter), choose to bring history to life with a presenter who tells stories of the Gold Rush.  Click on the links below to learn more about them. SOS will schedule the storyteller; the visiting school will be responsible for payment directly to the storyteller at the time of service.

Cynthia Restivo


Gold Rush Game Show

This fun class is designed like Jeopardy and is tailored to quiz your students on what they learned while here at SOS.


Songs and Skits

End your stay here with an educational campfire that will be tailored to review all the day classes you took here. You will act, dance, sing, laugh, learn, and create memories at the oldest and most cherished outdoor tradition: a beautiful campfire.



Take advantage of being in the mountains at 4,100 feet. We take students up to the ballfield where they are greeted by a blanket of stars (and sometimes Planets, and views of the Milky Way Galaxy). Students will get a chance to learn stories of constellations, look through telescopes, and learn some basic astronomy.


Roaring Relays

The title says it all. Students participate in a series of relay races and pure silliness in our gymnasium. Complete with great music and dancing.

Kids panning for gold

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.

Gold Rush Field Trips

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

The Clovis Unified School District prohibits discrimination, intimidation, harassment (including sexual harassment) or bullying based on a person’s actual or perceived ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, immigration status, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For questions or complaints, contact: Equity Compliance Officer - Norm Anderson, Deputy Superintendent, 1450 Herndon Avenue, Clovis, CA 93611, (559) 327-9000, [email protected] ; Title IX Coordinator - Shareen Crosby, Risk Manager, 1450 Herndon Avenue, Clovis, CA 93611, (559) 327-9000, [email protected] ; Assistant Title IX Coordinator – Steve France, Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, 1450 Herndon Ave., Clovis, CA 93611, (559) 327-9380, [email protected]  ; Section 504 Coordinator - Wendy Karsevar, 1680 David E. Cook Way, Clovis, CA 93611, (559) 327-9400, [email protected] .

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