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Wed, May 03


Empire Mine State Historic Park

Empire Mine State Historic Park Tour (3rd-6th Grade)

Experience the rich history of the Empire Mine from its origins to the present day and learn how the gold rush in the Nevada County area helped shape California.

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Empire Mine State Historic Park Tour (3rd-6th Grade)
Empire Mine State Historic Park Tour (3rd-6th Grade)

Time & Location

May 03, 2023, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E Empire St, Grass Valley, CA 95945, USA

About the event

For 3rd-6th Graders

Students will experience the rich history of the Empire Mine from its origins to the present day, in a period setting replicating the heydey of the Empire Mine. Students will learn the significance and implications of the gold mining industry in the Nevada County area, throughout California, and the world. They will learn how California's gold rush and the gold mining industry helped shape and develop California today (economically, culturally, and technologically). Students will have the opporutnity to tour through the lush gardens and Estate grounds, which starkly contrasts with the austere and begrimed Mine and Mineyard. Touring Empire Mine State Historic Park will stay with students for a lifetime.


Empire Mine State Historic Park is the site of one of the oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California. The park is in Grass Valley at 10791 East Empire Street. In operation for more than 100 years, the mine extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold before it closed in 1956. The park contains many of the mine’s buildings, the owner’s home and restored gardens, as well as the entrance to 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mine shafts. The park encompasses 856 acres of forested backcountry and fourteen miles of trails - including easy hikes (for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding) - in the park.

In June and October 1850, gold was found within a mile radius of the Empire Mine’s site. A new gold rush began when hundreds of miners staked claims in the area. However, most of the gold was buried deep in the earth, veined in quartz. Extracting that gold required more sophisticated mining techniques than the panning and sluice-box methods used in nearby Coloma.

After many separate, smaller claims were bought and consolidated, the site officially became known as the Empire Quartz Hill Company in 1852. William Bourn, a major stakeholder in the company, gained a controlling interest in the mine in 1869 but died suddenly in 1874. His son, William Bourn Jr., began to run the mine in 1878 after the gold was thought to be played out at 1,200 feet. Empire Hill then entered its most fruitful period. Together with his cousin, mining engineer George W. Starr, the younger Bourn created a successful and modern mine that became one of the most productive in the United States.

Mining gold from the hard rock deep in the earth proved tricky. Experienced miners from Cornwall, England, immigrated by the hundreds. Well-versed in hard-rock tin and copper mining, the Cornish miners brought such advancements as the “Cornish pump” that helped empty underground tunnels of water that flooded into mine passages from underground springs. With Cornish miners’ supervision and labor, tunnels became as deep as a vertical mile.

More than 5 million ounces of gold (worth well over seven billion dollars today) were taken from the Empire Mine—estimated to be only 20% of the total gold deposits still buried under the park (and underwater).

In 1929 Bourn sold the mine to the Newmont Mining Corporation, which controlled the Empire Mine until its closure in 1957. Static gold prices after World War II prompted the closure. In 1975, the State of California purchased the mine.

Today, visitors can tour the entrance to the main mineshaft and the mining shops, buildings and equipment as well as the mansion, clubhouse and expansive garden that William Bourn Jr. built. The historical buildings are encircled by miles of lovely trails and woodlands accessible to the public. Empire Mine State Historic Park is a treasure, where generations of Californians were able to truly shout, “Eureka!”

Important Info:

  • AGE/GRADE REQUIREMENTS: Tour is for grades 3-6
  • ALLERGY ALERT: Please let us know right away if your student has a food allergy so we can make any necessary arrangements
  • CANCELLATION/REFUND POLICY: Tickets for field trips will remain on sale until sold out or at the cut off date listed on the event, whichever comes first. Changes to your order can be made only while the field trip is open. Once a field trip closes, we are unable to offer refunds. Issues with orders such as insufficient or incomplete funds withdrawal may be subject to cancellation.
  • CHAPERONE POLICY FOR TEACHER-LED FIELD TRIPS: Instructional funds may be used to order 1 adult/chaperone ticket per 4 enrolled students and 2 adult/chaperone tickets per 5 or more enrolled student, an adult chaperone is required to accompany student(s) on a field trip regardless of the student(s)' age or grade level(s).
  • FOOD/DRINK RESTRICTIONS: Food and drinks may not be consumed inside. There are park benches outside.
  • MEETING INSTRUCTIONS: Please gather at entrance by the parking area
  • PARKING INSTRUCTIONS: There is plenty of available parking onsite
  • SICK POLICY: To ensure the health and safety of all attendees, please do not attend a field trip if you or your student(s) is ill or showing possible signs of illness.
  • RELEASE OF LIABILTY: When registering, make sure to read and understand the Release of Liabiliy Policy before submitting your order

If you are a parent using charter school funds, you will still need to register here for the event in order to hold your spot. Use the coupon code listed below when checking out. You will also need to put in your order with your charter school. They will reach out to us with your request and this will confirm your field trip reservation.

Charter Coupon Code: CHARTER


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