Wednesday Apr 01 2009
History is a gold mine for Loomis resident
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
Loomis residents have a movie “star” living among them. He’s Gary Noy, director of the Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College. Last week, KVIE, the Public Broadcasting System affiliate in Sacramento and the foothills, aired a historical documentary created by Noy and Daniel DeFoe, a history and communications professor at the Rocklin community college. In an article written by Bridget Jones for the Press-Tribune, Noy said the “Tales of the Sierra Nevada” was an experiment. “We put together short little films for our classes and we decided one day, ‘Why don’t we connect these stories … and send it off to Channel 6?’” The three historical features are about James Marshall, who discovered gold at Coloma in 1848; achievements in the Sierra by African-Americans, including William Alexander Leidesdorff Jr. whose estate included the land that would one day become Folsom; and mine owners who took a hair-raising ride down a flume near Lake Tahoe in the company of a New York Tribune reporter who documented the daring adventure. School kids throughout California study the discovery of gold. Local students, and everyone else, can actually visit the site along the American River where the gold nugget was pulled below Sutter’s Mill in 1848. “Tales of the Sierra Nevada” reminds us that following the gold discovery, “Marshall claimed ownership of the Coloma Valley, but his declaration was drowned by a rising tide of gold seekers who could not have cared less about the legal niceties.” He then turned to prospecting, but feeling hounded and threatened by those who followed him, Marshall abandoned the mill and left Coloma. When he returned six months later, Marshall was in debt and sold his farm to creditors. He was able to purchase 15 acres in Coloma, where he built a cabin and planted a vineyard. Poor investments failed. We also learn from the film that “James Marshall’s final years were sad … He made a few dollars by selling his autograph. But he never prospered. He died in 1885 at the age of 75. Marshall was buried on a Coloma hillside near his old vineyard and cabin.” Noy, who narrates part of the film, is also a published author. One of his books, “Distant Horizon – Documents from the Nineteenth-Century American West” was published in 1999 by the University of Nebraska Press. The book is dedicated to his parents, who were also Loomis residents. His father, Howard A. Noy, lived from 1920 to 1994. His mother was Velma Winkle Noy (1927 to 1985). Noy, 57, is a treasure trove of American and California history. Keep an eye out for encore presentations of “Tales of the Sierra Nevada” on Channel 6. It might inspire you to make the short drive to Auburn and across the American River to Coloma and Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.