James Marshall really was one unlucky guy. All he wanted to do was work hard at his trade as a carpenter and millwright; but after he accidentally uncovered a small piece of gold in the American River his life was turned upside down. He no longer had the chance to work, and he never managed to profit from the historic discovery. Greedy miners rushed in and pushed Marshall off of his own property. For the rest of his life, he wandered from one endeavor to another, unable to achieve any lasting success. It wasn’t until five years after his death in 1885 that Marshall’s part in the 1849 Gold Rush received lasting recognition, with the construction of a monument on the hill above his small cabin.
In 1857 he bought fifteen acres of land in Coloma for $15 and built a cabin near the Catholic church. Investing in new and exotic varieties of grapevines, he planted a vineyard on the hillside above the cemetery, dug a cellar, and began to make wine for sale. By 1860 his vines were doing so well that his entry in the county fair received an award, but in the late 1860s, a series of setbacks sent him prospecting again — State Parks brochure