By Alyssa Green
The Sacramento area is rich with history as it’s beginnings sprang up from the onset of the California gold rush. The city is stock full of museums and other attractions that highlight that famed period in history. Within just a short drive from the heart of Sacramento, visitors can step back in time and experience the gold rush for themselves. Below are five historic Sierra Gold Mines worth a visit.
1 – Marshall Gold Discovery SHP & Sutter’s Mill – the site where “it all began!” Gold was first discovered here by James Marshall as he was helping to build a sawmill for himself and John Sutter. See a replica of the original sawmill and over 20 historic buildings including a house, school, mining and store exhibits. Visitors can pan for gold in the American River and enjoy hikes and picnics in the beautiful river canyon.
2 – Columbia State Historic Park – Gold was discovered here in the spring of 1850 and immediately attracted an influx of other gold seekers. Thus, the town of Columbia was born. One of the best preserved gold rush era towns, visitors will enjoy stepping back into time and panning for gold, riding an old stagecoach, shopping and dining as they did in the bygone era.
3 – Empire Gold Mine – a working gold mine for over 100 years (1850-1959,)Empire Gold Mine was the site of the oldest, largest and richest mine in California. The park contains many of the original buildings including the owner’s cottage and gardens in addition to a museum and of course the mineyard. Spend the day learning about the history of gold mining and enjoy the park’s forested back country and 12 acres of trails for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders.
4 – Hangtown’s Gold Bug Mine – Located north of Placerville, this historic gold mine is probably the nearest to Sacramento and a favorite among kids and school groups. Gold Bug Mine offers a self-guided audio tour of it’s mines, a miner’s blacksmith shop, a stamp mill, museum, gift shop, hiking trails, picnic areas and gem panning.
5 – Kennedy Gold Mine – located near the town of Jackson, the Kennedy Gold Mine was famous for being one of the deepest gold mines in the world. Visitors will tour the mine office building, see gold mining equipment and view a historic video of men working the mine in the early 1900’s and browse the gift shop.
If you plan on going, make sure to check each individual park’s website, as some of the tours are not fully in operation until well into spring.