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


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


For current news and articles, click here.

September Cobblestones newsletter

November 1, 2016

The September 2016 issue of Colfax Cobblestones was mailed to CAHS members in September and is available online.

To read the September 2016 issue as a PDF file, click here, or click on the picture of the newsletter below.

The September issue includes an article about the collections and items in the Colfax Area Heritage Museum, Colfax's Shadow Art Walking Tour, and more.


September 17 Meeting and Program
with speaker Ralph Gibson

August 25, 2016. Updated September 2, 2016.

Ralph Gibson, Museum Administrator for Placer County Museums, will speak to the Colfax Area Historial Society at its September 17, 2016, meeting at 7 p.m. He will speak about the progress of the new Dewitt History Museum in Auburn.

This meeting will be held in the 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!

Placer County Museums operates six museums and is preparing a seventh:

  • Placer County Museum, Auburn, located in the historic courthouse.

  • Bernhard Museum, Auburn. 19th century history.

  • Gold Rush Museum, Auburn. Under construction, but open weekends.

  • Griffith Quarry, Penryn. Granite quarry exhibits, interactive geology exhibit, history of the Penryn-Loomis basin.

  • Forest Hill Divide Museum, Foresthill. Mining, geology, Native Americans, timber, and home life exhibits focusing on the history of the Foresthill area.

  • Golden Drift Museum, Dutch Flat. Dedicated to the history of the area, including Gold Run, Dutch Flat, Alta, Towle and Baxter.

  • The seventh museum will be the Dewitt, located in the former Army and State Mental Hospitals in Auburn.

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, 7 p.m.
Colfax Passenger Depot
99 Railroad Street, Colfax


May Colfax Cobblestones Newsletter

August 14, 2016

The May issue of the Colfax Cobblestones was mailed to CAHS members in May 2016, but wasn't posted online at that time. The September issue is currently being written, and will be mailed to CAHS members in early September.

To read the May 2016 issue, click here, or click on the picture of the newsletter below.

The May issue includes:

  • Gold Country Medical Stories and a presentation by Dr. Rod Moser, Curator of the Gold Country Medical Museum in Auburn.

  • An overview of the May presentation about local house histories by local researchers and historians
    Helen Wayland and Nancy Hagman.

  • An article about Towns and People of the Iowa Hill Divide, the second book in the Iowa Hill Trilogy by local historian and author Robin Yonash.

  • A visit to the Colfax Area Heritage Museum by a research team from the “Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University.”


Colfax's Shadow Art Tour

Download the new guide to Colfax's Shadow Art

June 22, 2016

Walking around downtown Colfax, you may have noticed the Shadow Art painted on walls of buildings and retaining walls. These murals were created by Jim Bowers and Foxey McCleary. The mural shown here is located on S. Auburn St.. The Grace Hubley Foundation has funded a guide to all of the murals, which is a PDF file that you can download and print or view on any device that displays PDF files. Click here to download or view the guide.

Shadow Art on S. Auburn St., Colfax, CA,
created by Jim Bowers and Foxey McCleary

This guide includes photos of the murals and a walking guide to their locations.
It also includes biographies and photos of the artists.


The Iowa Hill Divide Trilogy by Robin Yonash

Second Book in the Trilogy Is Published

Patrons of Mike Papas' Saloon (from the Henderson Collection).

Towns and People of the Iowa Hill Divide, the second book in the Iowa Hill Trilogy by Robin Yonash is now available for purchase locally at the Colfax Area Heritage Museum or online at

People and the settlements they live in make up the human history of a place. This book is about the towns of the Iowa Hill Divide in Placer County and the people who lived in them from the Gold Rush era to the present day.

• Robin's series documents the rich history of the Iowa Hill Divide. Based on extensive research, Towns and People of the Iowa Hill Divide includes:

• Detailed annotated history of the founding of Iowa Hill.

• Detailed annotated history of the "old" Iowa Hill Store, which was originally built about 1853 and lasted until 1968.

• An examination of the validity of various legends about Iowa Hill, such as Iowa Hill was once considered for the State Capitol.

• History of other towns on the Iowa Hill Divide, including Damascus, Humbug Canyon, and Wisconsin Hill.

• Biographies and family trees for several founding families.

• Biographies of various notable citizens and other residents, including Jacob Neff, Mel Henderson, and Lyman Gilmore.

• A discussion of the influence of women, African-Americans, Chinese, and Native-Americans on the Iowa Hill Divide.

• Numerous photographs, some published for the first time, plus maps and other illustrations, and a list of sources.

Proceeds from the purchase of this book at the Colfax Area Heritage Museum benefit the Colfax Area Historical Society. Purchases from support the Iowa Hill Community Club.
Watch for book three of the tril-ogy, Gold and Fire: A History of the Iowa Hill Divide, which is expected to be published this fall.

Volume 1 of The Iowa Hill Divide trilogy, Schools of the Iowa Hill Divide is also available.