Craig MacDonald Old West Author Story Striking it Rich Sierra Heritage


Striking it RICH


When miners said they made a “rich strike” in the 1850s, it didn’t necessarily involve gold. Sometimes it meant they knocked down all bowling pins with the first ball. Forty-niners bowling in the Sierra? Say What? Yes, it’s true. After working hard mining all day, many found relief and enjoyment with the ageless sport of bowling. Some even started spending more time bowling than mining.

“The rolling of balls never ceased for as much as 10 consecutive minutes during any 24-hour period and the only difference Sunday made was that it never ceased for one minute,” observed Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clapp of Rich Bar.

The growing popularity of the sport prompted the set up of one or two lane alleys all around the Sierra. In Downieville, they appeared beneath the saloon of John Craycroft. Gold Spring (near Columbia) featured The Bowling Alley.


Other stories and lectures by MacDonald include:


Cowabunga, Don't have a Cow in San Luis Obispo County


Murphys Master of Light


Elope to Big Bear Lake


Craig MacDonald's Murphys Story


Diamond Valley Lake


A Golden Child is Born


Lecture to Sons of American Revolution in Alameda, California


Craig MacDonald and sister Susan  MacDonald Bergtholdt are involved in the Daughters of American Revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Their father, Franklin MacDonald, graduated from Stanford University and was a professor of English at San Jose State University.