Gold Country California Visitor Information

Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley

The Empire Mine is the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. From 1850 to its closing in 1956, it produced 5.8 million ounces of gold.

This 5.8 million ounces of gold would fill a box 7 feet on each side. It is estimated that this represented only 20% of the available gold…80% remains. The Park contains many of the original mine buildings, the owners cottage and the restored gardens and grounds as well as the entrance to 367 miles (the equivalent of a round trip from Grass Valley to San Jose) of abandoned and flooded shafts and tunnels. The park consists of 845 acres of forested back country and 12 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

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). George Roberts, the original discoverer of the gold soon sold his interest and by 1869 William Bourn Sr. owned controlling interest. The Bourn family maintained control of the mine until 1929 when it was sold to Newmont Mining. It ceased operation in 1956. In 1975 the State purchased the surface property as the Empire Mine State Historic Park. The Park continues to draw thousands of worldwide visitors each year and is noted for its historical tours of the Bourn Cottage, the mine yard and “living history” events.

In addition to the tours noted above, the Park museum has a scale model of the underground workings of the Empire/Star mine complex, a “gold room” which displays ore samples from local mines,an Assay Office, and an extensive mineral collection. A video entitled “Tears from the Sun” depicting various gold mining techniques is shown on a regular basis. On Mother’s Day Weekend a Springtime Open House is held .It features the “Living History” programs,food service, and entertainment. As an added bonus the Gardens are in bloom!! The annual Miner’s Picnic is scheduled for late summer and over Thanksgiving weekend the Park sponsors a “Holiday Open-House”.

The Park is located on Empire Street which is a well marked exit on Route 49. Travelers from southern California or the Bay area should take route 80 and pick up route 49 north in Auburn. Travelers from Nevada and the east should take route 80 and exit on route 20 which becomes 20 / 49 in Nevada City. For visitors coming from Marysville via route 20, route 20 becomes Empire Street as it passes over route 49 (just continue straight on to the Park).

  • Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 East Empire St.,Grass Valley. Ca. 95945.
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Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley

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