If you’re looking for a fun daytrip with the family, Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley is a great destination. According to their Website, “The Empire Mine was the richest hard-rock mine in the State of California producing 5.8 million ounces of gold in its operating history of 106 years (1850-1956).”
Besides the mines, there is a museum, working blacksmiths, tons of cool equipment, the mining buildings and offices, hiking trails and “The residences of the mine owner, Mr. William Bourn, Jr., and the superintendent, Mr. George Starr. The grounds include a Clubhouse for entertaining, extensive lawns with fountains, a reflection pool and gardens with a greenhouse,” according to the Website.
The mansion and surrounding grounds are truly gorgeous, and well-worth the trip alone. You can go on a guided tour of the mansion, and enjoy the gardens and grounds at your leisure.
The mine itself is amazing, with the original equipment there to explore. You can look far into the mines, and imagine how life must have been for the miners. The blacksmiths are there melting down and shaping metal, and are friendly while they explain what they’re doing and what the job of the blacksmiths were while the mine was open. They offer children small trinkets, and you’re standing close enough to see the sweat dripping from their faces.
The large area of abandoned, rusted equipment is a plethora of fun for the kids. The metal dinosaurs loom large and our son and niece were curious about each one. They were imagining that we were Scooby and Friends trying to solve a mystery, and the abandoned machines where like a Transformers’ graveyard.
To get to the Empire Mine from Davis, take I-80 East and pick up Route 49 North in Auburn. You’ll see the Empire Mine State Park exit. Follow the signs.
We went past the exit into Nevada City, and enjoyed lunch in one of the cute little family restaurants before heading to the
park. The kids enjoyed walking around the town, and we popped into a cute little chocolate store for treats.
If we had known however, how gorgeous the grounds were, we would have packed a picnic lunch for sure. After the mine, the kids were hot, so we drove to Colfax, found the river, and let the kids explore along the banks, throwing rocks and wading into the water.
For more information and current price to get into the park, visit the website at: http://www.empiremine.org/