Colfax Area Historical Society

The Colfax Area Historical Society (CAHS) preserves the local history of Colfax, California, the surrounding area, and the railroads, by collecting stories, photographs, and artifacts about the people and buildings in this part of the Sierra foothills.

The Colfax Area Heritage Museum is open daily, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
99 Railroad Street, Colfax, CA 95713
(It is located in the Colfax Passenger Depot)
Phone: (530) 346-8599
Mail: PO Box 185, Colfax CA 95713


Colfax history
Museum & archives
Research resources
About the CAHS
FAQs (Q&A)

99 Railroad St
Colfax CA 95713

Mailing address:
PO Box 185
Colfax CA 95713


September Cobblestones newsletter

August 17, 2017

The September 2017 issue of Colfax Cobblestones is at the printer and will be mailed to all CAHS members on August 30. However, the PDF version of the September newsletter is now available online.

The September issue highlights the life and community contributions of Gertrude Paul, one of the cofounders of both the Colfax Area Historical Society and the Colfax Area Heritage Museum. Gertrude was described as a "historical sleuth" by her friends. Gertrude Paul passed away on May 23, 2017.


Back issues of the newsletter are also available.

Coming Up:
September 16, 2017
Summer Meeting and Program

Updated: August 12, 2017

Our summer program and meeting will be held on Saturday evening, September 16, 2017, at 7 p.m. in the Colfax Passenger Depot, 99 Railroad Street, Colfax.

Gold Rush Tales from Murderer's Bar

Kathryn Miller Marshall, Ph.D. will share "Gold Rush Tales from Murderer's Bar." Dr. Marshall is a frequent speaker at genealogical conferences and workshops, and she is the former Director of the Lodi Family History Center.

This is also the annual meeting that includes board elections and other business.

The meeting is open to all CAHS members and to the public. Visitors and guests are welcome. There is no charge. Refreshments will be provided. Bring a friend!

Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 7 p.m.
Colfax Passenger Depot
99 Railroad Street, Colfax, California

Murderer's Bar was the site of a rich gold discovery in 1848 by Tom Buckner and Ezekiel Merritt on the Middle Fork of the American River, upstream from Auburn.

Ezekiel Merritt was a longtime mountain man who helped kick off the Bear Flag Revolt. Large crowds followed friends to the site and soon swarmed over the area. Surmounting one challenge after another, 400 men united to build a dam and a 12-foot wide flume one mile long to divert the river from its bed in order to expose more gold.

Legendary frontiersman and crack shot Orrin Porter Rockwell owned three trading posts/inns in the area. Rockwell's Round Tent Tavern at Murderer's Bar was the social center of the Auburn area's mining camps. Rockwell went by the name of James Brown to hide his true identity, in part because he was a deputy marshal searching for kidnappers of a young woman-until he was exposed in a shooting contest.

If there is time, Dr. Marshall will also talk about the Thomas Orr family of Salmon Falls, California, who struck it rich through trade and services, despite owning a tremendously rich gold claim of their own.

Kathryn Miller Marshall

Kathryn Miller Marshall served as the Director of the Lodi Family History Center for 16 years. Today she is a frequent speaker at genealogical conferences and workshops. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she taught for many years.

Dr. Marshall developed school-based substance abuse prevention programs funded by private foundations and three National Institutes of Health, and evaluated the nation's substance abuse programs for annual Congressional reports. Back in California for her husband's last assignment as a military officer, Dr. Marshall served on the selection board for National Blue Ribbon Public Schools, and designed curriculum for "Odyssey of the Mind," a program for gifted students.

She began to specialize in the history of California between 1840 and 1865 when asked to prepare interpretive panels for museums and to edit books for fellow historians. She is the author of Discovery of California Gold, which is a curriculum augmentation book in use by schools throughout the state.

She is currently writing a book on the voyage of the ship Brooklyn, which carried passengers like Sam Brannan, who helped kick off the California Gold Rush. Dr. Marshall is a member of the Advisory Board for the California Pioneer Heritage Foundation, which provides living history re-enactors at state parks and preserves historical sites in California.


July 13th Board Meeting

The Summer Board Meeting was held Thursday, July 13, 2017, at 10 a.m., in the meeting room of the Colfax Passenger Depot, 99 Railroad Street, Colfax, CA 95713.

This meeting was open to all CAHS members and to the public.

May 13th Meeting and Program

Come learn about the history of Folsom and the Folsom Powerhouse on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 7 p.m.

Stephen Porten, a docent and tour guide at the Folsom Powerhouse State Park, will speak to us at our quarterly meeting. Stephen has been a docent for four years. He is one of 30 people who volunteer at the Powerhouse and the Powerhouse Visitor Center. He will also explain why the Folsom Prison is located where it is.

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 7 p.m.
Colfax Passenger Depot
99 Railroad Street, Colfax

There is no charge. This meeting is open to all CAHS members and to the public. Visitors and guests are welcome. Refreshments will be provided. Bring a friend!

Stephen Porten was born in Sacramento and lives in Folsom with his wife, Mary. They have been married 54 years. He retired from Pacific Bell in 1994 after 34 years. After Pacific Bell, he continued to work for other telecommunication companies until 2010.

When he's not volunteering, Stephen spends his time with ham radio, photography, and working on his family ranch. He was first licensed as an Amateur Radio Operator in 1958, at the age of 16. He now holds an Extra Class license KN6OX.

To learn more about the Folsom Powerhouse State Historical Park, visit


For previous news and articles, click here.


Upcoming meetings

All meetings and programs are held in the Meeting Room of the Colfax Passenger Depot, 99 Railroad Street, Colfax, CA 95713. These meetings are open to all CAHS members and to the public. We welcome your involvement.

September 16, 2017
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Summer general meeting and program. This meeting includes board elections and other business.

October 12, 2017
Thursday, 10 a.m.
Fall board meeting.

November 18, 2017
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Fall general meeting and program

View the complete 2017 calendar.

Do you have an idea for a program?

Do you have a passion for history that you would like to share? Would you like to put on a program?

If so, please contact Walt or Bonnie Wilson at (530) 878-6640, or email them at

CAHS is on Facebook

The CAHS now has a Facebook page: "Colfax Area Historical Society."

Our Facebook page is

Our Facebook username is @colfaxmuseum