We Bet You Didn’t Know This Small Town In Northern California Was Home To One Of The Oldest Gold Mines In The State
Relics from the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s are everywhere in Northern California. Many towns and cities sprung up during that time due to the influx of miners flooding into the region, plus all the businesses to support the miners. Even if you’re a Northern Californian who has seen a lot of Gold Country relics, we bet you’ll still be amazed by the Empire Gold Mine.
Located in Grass Valley, this mine is one of the “
oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California.”
The gold mine was in operation for over 100 years – from 1850 to 1956. Fifty-eight million ounces of gold were extracted from the mine before it closed.
Visitors can take a peek inside the entrance to the 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mine shafts. You can also see the historic buildings next to the mine, including the owner’s home and restored gardens. Don’t miss the visitor center where a scale model of the mine from the time it was in operation is on display.
This model was once located in a secret room so owners and managers could oversee mining operations. The model represents five square miles of underground mine shafts.
The Empire Gold Mine is a California Historical Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. George Roberts discovered gold near the mine and sold his interests to William Bourn Sr.
The Bourn family controlled the mine until 1929. Check out the Bourn cottage on the property, which was built from rocks that came from the mine.
Want to learn more about the mining operation? The park offers two types of 45-minute tours. You can choose from the Estate Tour or the Mineyard Tour. On the Estate Tour, you can learn about the history of the owner, their estate, and how it operated while as a gold mine.
The Mineyard Tour will delve into how the mining equipment works and how they were able to run a successful mine. The knowledgeable tour guides are available on a volunteer basis, so call first to see if your desired tour is available.
The mine is located in the aptly named Empire Mine State Historic Park. The park has 14 miles of trails and a total of 856 acres of forested back country. Park admission is $5. Children ages five and younger get in for free. Tours are free with an entry fee.
The park’s winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., open daily. In the summer, the park is open until 5 p.m. Dogs are allowed in the park but not inside the historic buildings.
The park was established in 1975 and has an active volunteer group to keep it alive. The park is supported by Sierra Gold Parks Foundation.
The park’s website acknowledges that the park is on Nisenan Land and "that the original Tribal Families have yet to recover from the near genocide of their people during the California Gold Rush." The park states that the story told at the park includes their story.
What do you think about the Empire Gold Mine? Tell us in the comments.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.
Address: 10791 E Empire St, Grass Valley, CA 95945, USA