Gold Gulch

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Gold Gulch was the largest funfair concession built for visitors at the California Pacific International Exposition, a World's Fair that was open from 1935 to 1936, in San Diego, Southern California, United States. Gold Gulch was a section celebrating the California Gold Rush and the American Old West.[1]


Gold Gulch, located within the World's Fairgrounds in Balboa Park, was a 21-acre (0.085 km2) Old West mining town-ghost town re-creation for fairgoers to experience the atmosphere of a mining boomtown.[2] Gold Gulch was described in the Exposition Guide Book as "a moviefied" version of riproaring '49 days.[3]

Gold Gulch occupied the canyon between the 'Casa de Balboa' and 'Pepper Grove,' southeast of the Spreckles Organ Pavilion. It was composed of a dance hall and a music hall, rustic unpainted shacks, a brick bank with iron-barred windows, a "Chinese restaurant and laundry," and a Hanging tree with 'dummy' hanging. Barkers lured visitors to a "shooting gallery" where a visiting "sharpshooter" hitting the bull's eye put all the lights out in the Gulch.[1] An "Indian Village" was nearby, with trading posts and events.

Gold Gulch charged no admission, but its shops and attractions did. "One could have coffee in a tin cup, beer 'by the scupper,' badges and rings made from horseshoe nails by the blacksmith, and have a photograph taken with fake beard, six shooter gun prop, a ten gallon cowboy hat on a mine-pack burro." [3]


"Old mining train" ride at Calico Ghost Town, Mojave Desert (c. 2005)

Gold Gulch was designed, directed and produced by Harry Oliver, a renowned and Oscar-nominated Hollywood Movie set designer, humorist, and Western writer.


The popularity and aesthetic accomplishments of Gold Gulch inspired and influenced subsequent Western theme parks and their "frontier village" attractions. Examples include the Calico Ghost Town restoration and the "Ghost Town" section of Knott's Berry Farm by Walter Knott, and Frontierland by Walt Disney.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  2. ^ "Balboa Park : Search : Gold Gulch". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 

Book list[edit]

  • "History of San Diego County" - Carl H. Heilbron, ed. - San Diego, 1936.
  • "History of San Diego" - by William E. Smythe - online book 're-issue'

External links[edit]