Attractions

Located in Northern, Central and Southern California, these attractions give a glimpse of California's mining and gold rush era history. Attractions are listed by county, links to each county are provided below. Unless otherwise noted these attractions are open all year. We recommend that you telephone ahead to verify dates and hours of operation.

When visiting these areas you may want to check with the chamber of commerce for information on other attractions in the local area. For the Mother Lode region our Mother Lode & Northern Mines Visitor Information page lists visitor contact information.

Northern California
El Dorado County
Nevada County
Plumas County
Sacramento County
Shasta County
Sierra County
Central California
Amador County
Mariposa County
Mono County
Monterey County
Santa Clara County
Tuolumne County
Southern California
San Bernardino County
San Diego County
Amador County
Jackson Kennedy Mine
   The Kennedy Mine Foundation offers guided and self guided surface tours of the historic Kennedy Mine. See the 125 foot high head frame, mine buildings, restored mine office, the remnants of the largest stamp mill in the Mother Lode and more.
   You can also visit the Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park, located nearby on Jackson Gate Road, featuring the remaining 58 foot tall tailing wheels which were used to carry the processed rock from the mine to an impound dam.
Open: Kennedy Mine tours are normally available from mid to late March through October on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Groups should call ahead. Special tours and bus tours can be arranged for weekdays and off-season.
Location: 12594 Kennedy Mine Road, 1 mile north of Jackson near the intersection of State Highways 49 and 88. Call or check web site for directions.
Phone: (209) 223-9542
Web: www.kennedygoldmine.com
Email: info@kennedymine.com
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
   Though not directly related to mining, other than the fact that miners worked the area during the gold rush, this park gives a good understanding of the Miwok who lived in the area prior to the gold rush. The park preserves a large outcropping of marbleized limestone with some 1,185 mortar holes where the local Native Americans once ground acorns into meal. There is also a reconstructed Miwok village, roundhouse and the Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum which has a collection of baskets and artifacts. Hikers can enjoy the network of trails in the park.
Open: Park, sunrise to sunset year round. Museum, everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day.
Location: 14881 Pine Grove/Volcano Rd., Pine Grove. 8 miles east of Jackson on Pine Grove-Volcano Rd. off Hwy. 88.
Phone: (209) 296-7488
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Fiddletown Chew Kee Store
   Built in the early 1850s, this rammed earth adobe was established as an herb shop during the Gold Rush and is the only remnant of the once thriving Fiddletown Chinese Community. It is now a museum operated by the Fiddletown Preservation Society.
Open: Saturdays only, April through October, or by appointment.
Location: On Fiddletown Rd., 6 miles east of Plymouth via Fiddletown Road.
Web: www.fiddletown.info
El Dorado County
Coloma Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
   The site where it all began along the American River in 1848. About seventy percent of Coloma is included in Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. The tree-lined streets of the park are quiet throughout much of the year. Most visitors come during the summer or for the many special events throughout the year (many events are listed in our calendar throughout the year). Every January is the annual commemoration of the 1848 gold discovery.
   The park features include a number of buildings that have survived from the gold rush, a replica of Sutter's Mill, trails and picnic areas. The Gold Discovery Museum features gold-rush-era exhibits including mining equipment and other memorabilia.
   A podcast about the park produced by the California State Parks Foundation is available here.
Open: Park daily. Museum and buildings are open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day.
Location: 18 miles south of Auburn (Interstate 80) or 9 miles north of Placerville (Highway 50) on Highway 49.
Phone: (530) 622-3470
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Placerville Gold Bug Park
   The main feature of the park is the Gold Bug Mine, a small hardrock gold mine. Two lighted shafts of the Gold Bug Mine – 362 feet and 147 feet long respectively – are open to the public for self-guided tours. There is also a stamp mill, interpretive museum of the local mining area, gift shop, hiking trails and picnic sites.
Open: Check their web site for hours of operation.
Location: In Placerville, 1 mile north of Highway 50 on Bedford Ave.
Phone: (530) 642-5207
Web: www.goldbugpark.org
Mariposa County
Mariposa California Mining & Mineral Museum
   Exhibits include gold and gemstones along with early day mining artifacts. There is a 150-foot mine tunnel open for public tours.
Open: Check their web site for hours of operation.
Location: Two miles south of Mariposa on Highway 49 at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.
Phone: (209) 742-7625
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Mariposa Museum & History Center
   The Mariposa Museum & History Center is a great place to stop if you have a bit of extra time on the way to or from Yosemite on Highway 140. The center presents an authentic picture of Mariposa County from the Indian and Spanish periods to the famed California Gold Rush and to the recent past. Portrayed are original documents and artifacts as well as a typical one-room miner's cabin and displays of the life style of the West's most famous explorer and Mariposa County resident, John C. Fremont. Outdoor exhibits include mining equipment featuring a working 5 stamp mill.
Open: Check their web site for hours of operation.
Location: 5119 Jessie St., on the corner of 12th and Jessie Streets (just off Highway 140) in Mariposa.
Web: www.mariposamuseum.com
Mono County
Bridgeport Bodie State Historic Park
   The gold and silver mining ghost town of Bodie, which once had over 10,000 residents and over 2,000 buildings in the 1870s, is maintained by the California State Parks in a state of arrested decay with 170 structures remaining. It is the largest unrestored ghost town in the west. Today it looks much the same as it did over 60 years ago when the last residents left. There are self-guided tours. Docent lead walking tours are available in the summer. Lodging and dining are available in nearby Bridgeport. Contact the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce at (760) 932-7500.
Open: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The remainder of the year the park is open from 8 am to 4 pm or as posted. Hours may vary due to weather or season. Because of the high elevation (8,375 feet), it is accessible only by over-snow equipment during the winter months. Winter weather is often unpredictable, contact the park before visiting.
Location: Bodie is 100 miles northeast of Yosemite Valley. From Bridgeport take U.S. 395 seven miles south to State Route 270 (Bodie Rd.). Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an unsurfaced road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Contact the park if there are any questions on road conditions.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 515, Bridgeport, CA 93517
Email: bodie@qnet.com
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Monterey County
Monterey Monterey State Historic Park
   Monterey State Historic Park served as California's capital under Spanish, Mexican and US rule. It was the capital when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1848. The US flag was first officially raised in California here on July 7, 1846, bringing 600,000 square miles, including California, into the Union. Ten buildings, including the Custom House, built in 1827, and several residences (now museums) built in the 1830s, preserve the area's rich history of early California. The visitor center is in the Stanton Center on Custom House Plaza, adjacent to Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf.
Open: Daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
Location: 20 Custom House Plaza, in Monterey.
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Nevada County
Grass Valley Empire Mine State Historic Park
   For more than 100 years, the Empire Mine in Grass Valley was one of the largest, deepest, longest operating and richest hardrock gold mines around - producing nearly six million ounces of gold. The park contains several of the mine's buildings, the owner's home and restored gardens, plus 10 miles of trails. The park offers tours of the mine and the owner's home. Several times during the year there are costumed living-history reenactments.
Open: Daily May through August. Check with park for hours September through April.
Tours: Guided tours of the Mine Yard and Cottage (owner's home) year round, call for dates and times.
Location: 10791 East Empire Street in Grass Valley. Exit Hwy. 49 at Empire Street, drive 2 1/2 miles east on Empire Street to park entrance.
Phone: (530) 273-8522
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
North Star Mining Museum
   The museum is housed in the former North Star Mine powerhouse. The mining displays include machinery, handcrafted tools, a 20-stamp mill, Cornish Pump and a 30-foot Pelton Wheel.
Open: Daily May through mid October, check web site for hours.
Location: On Allison Ranch Rd. at south end of Mill St., Grass Valley.
Web: www.nevadacountyhistory.org
Nevada City Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
   Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is the site of what was California's largest "hydraulic" mine in the 1800s. Visitors can see huge cliffs carved by mighty streams of water, results of the gold mining technique of washing away entire mountains to find the gold. The park also contains a 7,847 foot bedrock tunnel that served as a drain. The visitor center includes exhibits on life in the old mining town of North Bloomfield.
Open: Call the park for operating hours.
Location: 26 miles northeast of Nevada City on North Bloomfield Road.
Phone: (530) 265-2740
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
South Yuba River State Park
   South Yuba River State Park stretches along more than 20 miles of the South Yuba River canyon from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to Bridgeport. During the Gold Rush this area was the center of mining activity. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world. Visitors can enjoy swimming, hiking and historic sites. Docent-led history, nature and gold-panning tours are offered at selected times throughout the year.
Open: Call the park for operating hours.
Location: 5 miles north of Nevada City off Highway 49. Call for specific directions.
Phone: (530) 432-2546 or (530) 273-3884
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Plumas County
Graeagle Plumas-Eureka State Park
   Just outside of Graeagle (pronounced gray-eagle), the area where Plumas-Eureka State Park is located was once a booming gold mining region in the mid to late 1800s. Within the 5,500 acre park is the restored 60 stamp Mohawk Mill, which still contains much of the original equipment, and the mines former bunkhouse and office. During the summer, tours of the buildings are conducted. Graeagle offers other recreational opportunities, check their web site www.graeagle.com for more information.
Open: Park headquarters and the mining museum are open all year with limited hours in the winter. Call or check the parks web site for more information.
Location: Just north of the town of Graeagle on County Road A-14, 5 1/2 miles west of Highway 89.
Phone: (530) 836-2380
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Sacramento County
Sacramento Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
   Sutter’s Fort was Sacramento’s earliest settlement. John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant, established this European-style settlement in 1839 when California was under Mexican rule. It was the first non-Indian settlement in California’s Central Valley. The fort has been restored to its 1847 appearance.
Open: Daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day.
Location: Mid-town Sacramento at 2701 L Street, between K and L Streets and 26th and 28th Streets.
Phone: (916) 445-4422
Web: www.parks.ca.gov
Old Sacramento
   With 53 historic buildings, Old Sacramento probably has more buildings of historic value condensed into its 28 acres than any area of similar size in the west. Old Sacramento is a National Landmark and a portion is designated as a State Historic Park. Enjoy museums, entertainment, restaurants, lots of interesting shops, and more.
Open: Daily. Some businesses may be closed on major holidays.
Location: Downtown Sacramento, bordered by Interstate 5, Capitol Mall and the Sacramento River.
Web: www.oldsacramento.com
San Bernardino County
Barstow Calico Ghost Town
   The richest silver strike in California history was made here in the 1880s. Walter Knott of Knotts Berry Farm restored the town in the 1950s. In 1966 Mr. Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County. It is now a regional park and tourist attraction located just off Interstate 15 half way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Not exactly what would be described as a "ghost town", the town has restaurants, shops and entertainment along with a few original buildings.
Open: Daily except Christmas.
Location: 8 miles north of Barstow, take the Ghost Town Road exit from Interstate 15.
Phone: (800) 862-2542 or (760) 254-2122
Web: www.calicotown.com
San Diego County
Julian Eagle & High Peak Mine
   Between 1870 and 1880 more than $5 million in gold was taken from the Julian area. One of Julian’s original producing gold mines, the Eagle & High Peak Mine offers guided hour-long tours through tunnels in the hard rock mine, and shares tales of the life of early residents of Julian. There are many other interesting things to do in the Julian area located 1 hour east of San Diego, check the Julian web site below for more information.
Open: Daily. Call in advance for large groups.
Location: End of C Street in Julian. See the Julian web site below for directions from San Diego.
Phone: (760) 765-0036
Web: www.julianca.com
  Julian Train & Gold Mine Tour
   One mile scenic and historic train ride on the narrow gauge “Smith Ranch & Julian Railroad,” and a tour of an authentic 1870 gold mine. While exploring the mine, you'll see pick marks made 139 years ago and the quartz veins that led to gold. Those who wish may try their hand at panning for gold.
Open: Call for hours
Location: Call for location
Phone: (760) 765-2288
Web: pioneerways.com
Santa Clara County
San Jose New Almaden Quicksilver County Park
   Mining operations began in 1845 to supply quicksilver to Mexican silver mines. The gold rush made the mine very successful because of the need for quicksilver in processing gold ore. Mining operations ceased in the 1970s and Santa Clara County took over the property. There are remnants of mining structures throughout the park. The New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum presents visitors with an interesting array of exhibits about the history of mercury mining and the lifestyles of mining communities at New Almaden.
Open: Park open daily. Call for museum hours.
Location: The museum is at 21350 Almaden Road. Call or see the web site for directions to the park.
Phone: (408) 268-3883
Web: www.parkhere.org
Shasta County
Redding

Shasta State Historic Park
   A row of half-ruined brick buildings remind passing motorists that Shasta City, the "Queen City" of California's northern mining district, once stood on this site. Across the road is a brick building that has been restored to its 1861 appearance. The building is filled with historical exhibits, and a collection of historic California artwork. These buildings and some of the nearby roads, cottages, and cemeteries are all silent but eloquent vestiges of the intense activity that was centered here during the California gold rush.
Open: Daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
Location: Six miles west of Redding on Highway 299.
Phone: (530) 243-8194 or (530) 225-2065
Web: www.parks.ca.gov

Sierra County
Alleghany The Original 16 to 1 Mine
   Several different tours of this working gold mine are available by reservation. The tours also include the Alleghany Mining Museum which features a 3-D exhibition, mine model, photos and artifacts from early mining period.
Tours: Call in advance to reserve tours.
Location: Call mine for directions.
Phone: (530) 287-3330
Web: www.origsix.com/tours.asp
Sierra City Kentucky Mine Park & Museum
   The highlight of the park is the fully-restored Kentucky Mine Stamp Mill, the only operable stamp mill in its original condition in California. Guided tours of the 10-stamp mill are given on days the museum is open.
Open: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Location: Highway 49 on the eastern side of Sierra City.
Phone: (530) 862-1310
Web: www.sierracounty.org
Tuolumne County
Columbia Columbia State Historic Park
   Gold was discovered here in 1850. Columbia yielded $87 million in gold at 1860s prices and was known as "The Queen of the Southern Mines". Columbia was never completely deserted. Through the years it has retained much the same appearance as when miners thronged its streets. The State Legislature, recognizing an opportunity to preserve a typical Gold Rush town, created Columbia State Historic Park in 1945.
Open: It's a real town, it never actually closes except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Location: Columbia is a few miles north of Sonora. Directions to Columbia are on the parks web site
Phone: (209) 532-0150
Web: www.columbiacalifornia.com
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