When I decided to come to Auburn, California, little did I know that this is the area where gold was first discovered in California and started the whole gold rush thing in the 1800’s!

When I went to the Auburn Visitor’s Center yesterday, I was given a wonderful history lesson on this very subject by an Auburn historical enthusiast who works at the Center. I highly recommend going there for some great detailed information!

Although I didn’t take any photos of the historic downtown Auburn, it was authentic and well preserved…more so than most…and they have a lovely walking tour of this area. I just wanted to get a feel of the area without the interruption of a camera lens.

However, today when I traveled to Grass Valley, California (a neighboring city) to visit the Empire Mine State Historic Park and the historic district of Grass Valley, I did take the Canon with me!

Empire Mine State Historic Park is beautifully maintained and rich in gold fever and mining history from its earliest California days. It’s also has luxurious gardens of roses, huge indigenous trees such as Douglas Fir, and Ponderosa Pine. TheĀ  well-preserved buildings make it seem like the workers have just gone home for the day and the owners are ready to sit down for dinner.

The docent was a retired structural engineer (of Cornish descent) with a pure love of the history of the mining operation and all related to it started by William Bourn. It was hard rock Cornish miners who came in the mid-1850s who provided the major muscle behind this operation. Hence the passion of the docent.

There were nineteen major buildings in this Park and some outstanding gardens and this man was well versed in all aspects of each and every process of this mining operation (closed in 1956). Below are but a few images of the many at this magnificent park.







One of the many mine shafts.




Looks like everyone just went home, doesn’t it?




A taste Historic Grass Valley, California. I couldn’t believe how many gingerbread Victorian houses still remain in this area!


Not sure if traffic is always complicated in this area but it certainly was today!



Also to explore in this area is Summit Canyon at Donner Pass…one of the richest historical areas in this state. Surely you’ve heard of the story of the first wagon train (1844-46) to cross over Donner Pass, right? “They approached the Sierra after a grueling journey across the Nevada desert and along the Truckee River. As they climbed the pass, it was snowing as they came to a rock wall. They disassembled some of their wagons and hoisted the pieces up.”(seq. Donner Summit Historical Society brochure). If I remember correctly, there was a movie made about this infamous crossing.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring at this point, but I highly recommend eating at the Lumberjack Restaurant on the way to Grass Valley!