NATIVE SONS COLUMBIA MUSEUM
Columbia was like many of the Mother Lode gold rush towns. It boomed when “thar was gold in them thar hills” and went bust afterward. But unlike many of its counterparts that literally were erased from the face of the earth by fire, vandalism, overlying development or other factors, Columbia never was completely deserted.
Beginning in the 1920s, the Native Sons spearheaded a movement involving a number of historical groups to preserve the largely intact town as a state park. The effort was crowned with success in 1945 when the California Legislature passed a bill to acquire the old business section of the town for that purpose.
The 19th century Native Sons hall was among the buildings that were secured in that process. The state leases it back to the Native Sons. They continue to use the upper story as their meeting hall. The ground floor houses a walk-in free museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. It features displays of many objects from the organization’s colorful past.
RAMONA PARLOR MUSEUM
Although the museum at Columbia is the only one operated by the organization as a whole, Ramona Parlor also maintains a museum of its own at 339 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel, adjacent to San Gabriel Mission
Ramona’s broadly based collection offers a fascinating, many-sided glimpse of many features and eras of California history. They range from objects dating back to the pre-Spanish period in 1603; to the opera glasses of California’s last Mexican governor, Pio Pico; to a room of articles that belonged to Eugene Biscaliluz, the legendary longtime sheriff of Los Angeles County and organizer of the California Highway Patrol, who was a member of Ramona Parlor.
The museum is open without charge 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Special tours may be arranged by calling (626) 288-2026.