By Jerrie Beard, Marshall Gold Discovery SHP, Gold Fields District, California State Parks
I work at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California, the site of the gold discovery that set the California Gold Rush in motion. Many of the historic buildings at the park are showing their age and need a little TLC.
A couple of years ago, our cultural resources and maintenance staff learned of the work being done by HistoriCorps and approached the group about tackling the IOOF Hall at the park. The group agreed to take on the project to fix the dilapidated clapboard siding and prime and paint the exterior of the building.
District Chief Ranger Barry Smith never misses an opportunity to show off the carpenter shop at Marshall Gold. Once a storage area crammed with old equipment and tools, the shop now boasts a Woodmizer sawmill and state-of-the-art routers and molder planers, allowing staff to fabricate everything from siding, to windows, to tongue and groove flooring. When the folks from HistoriCorps saw the operation they immediately saw a resource.
In the summer of 2019 HistoriCorps was working on the Jamison Barn at Plumas-Eureka State Park. In order to repair rotted and damaged beams in the barn with like material, the crew needed true cut lumber – lumber that was cut to the true dimensions of 2 x 4 and 6 x 6 – lumber not typically found at retail outlets. Remembering that Marshall Gold Discovery SHP had the ability to mill lumber to any dimensions, HistoriCorps reached out to see if we could mill the lumber they required.
Always ready to lend a hand (and to have an excuse to fire up the sawmill) Marshall Gold obliged. At that time, I wrote an article for State Parks weekly e-newsletter about our ability to mill and provide lumber to HistoriCorps for the Plumas-Eureka project. In researching the group, I was intrigued by the concept and said, “I want to do that!”
Through a Master Agreement put together by State Parks staff, HistoriCorps included the IOOF Hall at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP as one of their projects in 2021. I was asked to share the Call for Volunteers for the project with our local community and the volunteer staff at the park. Here was my opportunity to participate on an HistoriCorps project right in my own backyard. I helped Brenda, one of our 80-year-old volunteers, register for the project and then, encouraged by her, signed myself up. What a fantastic experience!
Brenda and I had a wonderful time working with the HistoriCorps staff and volunteers for one of the 3 weeklong sessions. The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and professional. The volunteers, many of whom were seasoned HistoriCorps volunteers, were wonderful. Everyone worked so well together, and we accomplished far more than I would have imagined in a week. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and will most likely be found on other HistoriCorps projects in the future.
The local community was very excited to learn that work was being done on the IOOF Hall, which served as a community hall for many years. Each week, locals brought home-baked goods to the volunteer crew, which were much appreciated. The work done by the HistoriCorps crew made a huge difference in the outward appearance of the building. And, every time I walk by the IOOF Hall, I feel a sense of pride knowing that I contributed to the effort.