Anyone who wants to know what a mining town looked like during the California Gold Rush, and how the “forty-niners” prospected for gold there, should definitely pay Columbia Airport a visit. In the 1850s, Columbia was regarded as the most productive gold-mining town in the West. Although the boom quickly fizzled out after 1858, Columbia was able to avoid the fate of other mining communities and never became a ghost town. There are a number of carefully restored historic buildings dating back to this period. Today, you can stroll along the main street and admire old-style shops and tradesmen’s premises while a stagecoach rumbles past you. You can even try to pan for gold yourself and learn how difficult it was to wash the precious metal out of lumps of solid clay. Maybe you’ll find enough gold to pay for your aviation fuel!
There’s a small footpath leading from the airport into town, and it takes about 10 minutes to walk. If you catch a severe dose of “gold fever”, there are several places in town where you can stay overnight.