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Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley

Categories: State Parks, History Museums, Museums, Nature & Parks, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.8/5 based on 340+ reviews on the web
Empire Mine State Historic Park is a state-protected mine and park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Grass Valley, California, USA. The Empire Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places, a federal Historic District, and a California Historical Landmark. Since 1975 California State Parks has administered and maintained the mine as a historic site. The Empire Mine is "one of the oldest, largest, deepest, longest and richest gold mines in California." Between 1850 and its closure in 1956, the Empire Mine produced 5.8 million ounces of gold, extracted from 367mi of underground passages.HistoryIn Oct. 1850, George McKnight discovered gold in a quartz outcrop (ledge) called the Ophir Vein, but sold the claim in 1851 to Woodbury, Parks and Co., who sold it in 1852 to John P. Rush and the Empire Quartz Hill Co. The Empire Mining Co. was incorporated in 1854, after John Rush was bought out. As word spread that hard rock gold had been found in California, miners from the tin and copper mines of Cornwall, England, arrived to share their experience and expertise in hard rock mining. Particularly important was the Cornish contribution of the Cornish engine, operated on steam, which emptied the depths of the mine of its constant water seepage at a rate of 18,000 gallons per day. This enabled increased productivity and expansion underground. Starting in 1895, Lester Allan Pelton's water wheel provided electric power for the mine and stamp mill. The Cornish provided the bulk of the labor force from the late 1870s until the mine’s closure eighty years later.
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  • We visited the Empire Mine State Historic Park in mid October. We arrived shortly after opening time at 10 am, only to discover that docent-led tours start at 1pm. We opted for a self guided tour. Don...  read more »
  • Saw this on the route map we were using and, as we wanted to visit something from the Gold Rush era, made a detour to Grass Valley. Well worth this as it is a well set out site with plenty of very int...  read more »
  • Well-preserved piece of Calif history -- most productive gold mine in the state. In addition to seeing how the gold was mined and glimpsing what the miners' lives were like, the gardens and estate are...  read more »
  • Very well worth the time. The mine shaft and metalsmithing stations are good. The ground is quite beautiful. Quite a few machinery from gold mining days. Just a note that the Bourn family roleplay tour of the house is 1 hour long after a 15? min presentation. It's not suitable for younger children as it is mostly talk, very little walking, and not much of visual interest to them. It's a decent way for adults to experience life in 1905 though.
  • Amazing place to visit! I've been there twice this year! The history, buildings, fountains, trees, and historic buildings are so much fun to explore! I've been a total of three times now and I'll go back. It's my favorite place to take visiting family/friends.
  • Fun place to take a lunch and meander. The gift shop is fairly inexpensive and the grounds are beautiful. If you're a history buff take a guided tour, the guides are awesome. There are self guided tour panflets at the front desk.
  • A lot of really interesting pieces to find along the trail and it is a really pleasant and easy hike around. It's not the most beautiful hikes but it has a lot of sequoias and character and purpose for anyone interested in old mines and broken down buildings. Probably an interesting place to shoot photographs or film.
  • California history. A must, if you care about history. It's also very interesting to learn about the mines.
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