Living in Gold Rush Country is its own adventure. From winding mountain roads and steep river canyons to collapsing old buildings that are more than 150 years old, we live with the flavor of these Rough Times.
In fact, our very own Peggy Reza lives in Columbia State Historic Park! She’s played old time music in Columbia for nearly three decades. Peg is a strong, respected voice in our community of local musicians. When we started this project, it was a golden chance for Peg to share her knowledge and love of American Folk Music of the late 1800’s. I couldn’t have gotten any luckier than having the chance to work with Peg Reza on this project!
One song on the recording is The Days of 49 (Disc #2/Cut #9). It is a mournful tune of days gone-by, telling the story of miners who moved on as the gold strikes waned. Peg introduced me to the song, and it brought tears to my eyes. We chose the song as one of our closing pieces because of its message to remember those who toiled for gold.
According to local lore, The Days of 49 was first recorded in Columbia Park’s very own Jack Douglass Saloon! The collector used a mechanical recording device that used a large conical horn to collect and focus the physical air pressure of the sound waves produced by the human voice or musical instruments. A membrane, located at the apex of the cone, was connected to an articulated stylus. As changing air pressure moved the membrane back and forth, the stylus scratched an analogue of the sound waves onto a moving recording medium. Sometimes this was a roll of coated paper, or a cylinder coated with wax or soft metal. Can you just imagine the excitement and wonder of those first recordings? You can learn more here: History_of_sound_recording_1925.29
You can visit the Jack Douglass Saloon today, and gather up the feeling of those days. And if you’re lucky, you might spot a bit of gold dust hidden in the floorboards.