Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie are on a holiday in California, heading to Los Angeles. They take a small narrow road that seems deserted and discuss California's history as they travel. Donald Duck opines that the turning point in California's history was the California gold rush. As he speaks passionately on this topic, Donald Duck is momentarily distracted from his driving. The car crashes in a rock besides the road.
When Donald Duck and his three nephews regain consciousness, they find they are visitors of a local tribe of Native Americans. The tribe kindly offer to help the columbine foursome recover. The exhausted Ducks are offered a drink, and they fall sleep. When they wake again, they find themselves in Alta California, 1848. They quickly manage to befriend a local Spanish-speaking family of Californios, owners of a cattle ranch, together with the ranch workers. As visitors, Donald Duck and his nephews are privileged to observe the family's life and moreover, they attempt to help with the family problems. They visit San Francisco and acquire land cheaply, but soon are swindled out of them by American settlers. Afterwards, the Ducks become involved in the Gold Rush and as goldminers partner with a friend from the ranch. The Ducks do the digging, and their partner's fists and guns make sure that nobody swindles them out of their gold.
After their friend departs the Ducks start to experience an odd fading of their environment. It seems to them that all their acquaintances from this era are now only distant memories. It is at this point that the Duck family truly regain consciousness to discover the truth. They were in a coma in a hospital bed for weeks. The drink they had accepted had kept them sleeping for this long. The Ducks all have the same memory of their apparent experiences in time travel. Despite this, the Ducks believe themselves fully recovered, take possession of their car (which has been completely repaired) and continue on their way as if nothing had happened. However, the Ducks do make a stop first at an abandoned old house where they had stayed as visitors in 1848. They admit that they don't know if it was all a dream or if they really experienced the events they recall from 1848, but nevertheless they choose to keep the memory of Old California.
- Donald Duck in Old California! at the INDUCKS
- Donald Duck in Old California! in Carl Barks guidebook
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