MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE24) – You may not realize it when you see this sign off Highway 49, but the Mariposa County Fairgrounds is the gateway to California Gold Rush history.
“A lot of people like to stay in Mariposa. It is a small gateway town to Yosemite and they will look for things to do during their downtime when they are not in the park. And our museum is a frequent stop,” said Natalie Sanman with California State Mining and Mineral Museum, California State Parks.
The California State Mining and Mineral Museum has nearly 14,000 pieces of mineral crystals, precious gems, rocks and gold.
Only the best of the best are on display.
You can relive what it was like to be a hard rock miner.
A replica mine tunnel takes you through the process of drilling and blasting for gold in the mid-1800s.
“As you come out of the mine you go right into the mine museum,” Sanman said. “And you see several tools they used during the Gold Rush including a gold pan, dry washer and other tools.”
Be sure to look above to see a replica mine cart, and watch and listen to the sounds of the miniature stamp mill.
The device was used to crush rocks in hopes of catching pieces of gold.
Don’t forget to check out the safe full of gems and gold.
“In that room, we keep our most precious specimens and the most precious things. Including the ‘Fricot Nugget’ which is what a lot of people come here to see,” Sanman said.
If the 13-pound piece of crystalline gold doesn’t catch your attention, maybe the collection of glow-in-the-dark rocks will.