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And upstairs, a hilarious Gold Rush Twitter wall has Captain John Sutter (@KingOfNewHelvetia) insisting, “Contrary to what you may have heard, there has been no gold discovery in California so far as I know. @TheMinersFriend is trolling you. #NothingToSeeHere. May 26, 1848.”. Sutter may have tried to keep the big discovery under his hat, but @TheMinersFriend — Sutter’s Fort shopkeeper, newspaperman and soon-to-be millionaire Sam Brannan — was having none of it. “Gold! Gold! Gold! Get rich in California! Don’t bother lugging mining tools, I have everything you need at prices that will cure scurvy!” he tweeted.
Of course, Twitter didn’t exist in the 19th century, but this wall is proving a marvelous — and highly entertaining — way to teach history, What Brannan actually did that spring was run up and down the streets of San Francisco capezio hanami ballet shoes shrieking the news, And the Gold Rush that followed brought 300,000 people to California, where their mining camps grew into towns and cities just like this one, For die-hard history buffs like us, Auburn is irresistible, with one Gold Rush-era museum for every 3,000 residents, Seriously, The city has 14,000 residents and at least five museums, including one tucked inside the iconic courthouse and another on the property of the Traveler’s Rest Hotel, built in 1851..
We’d planned to visit them all on this particular sunny weekend, but we’re so smitten with the newly renovated Gold Rush Museum, with its “Ho, California!” entryway and flying dirigible, we can’t tear ourselves away. A bucolic mural covers the wall just behind a small waterway that wends its way across the museum. Neatly stacked tins await guests eager to try their luck at gold panning in this waist-height “creek,” and exhibits offer glimpses of life in the mining camps, where entertainment was hard to come by. If you could play a banjo, a fiddle or squeeze box in those days, you were in hot demand. If you could dance, you were even hotter. (How hot? Check out the tweet from Lola Montez, @NoShortageOfHusbands.).
As it turned out, many career paths — dancing, cooking, blacksmithing — were more profitable than this iffy panning thing, Just look at the tweets, Then take capezio hanami ballet shoes a wander through the re-created mining tunnels on the museum’s second floor, its dimly-lit miners poised with picks and ore carts, There’s no doubt that life was rough and riches rare for the gold miners of the 19th and early 20th century, But for the major mine owners? That’s a whole other story — and all the inspiration we need for a field trip the next day..
The next morning, we head for the Empire Mine State Historic Park 30 minutes from Auburn in Grass Valley. In its heyday, the Empire was one of California’s largest, deepest and most profitable gold mines. It was run by the Bourn family, who also built the grand Filoli estate in Woodside and the Greystone Winery in St. Helena, which now houses the Culinary Institute of America. By the time the mine closed in 1956 after a century of operation, some 5.6 million ounces of gold — worth more than $8 billion today — had been extracted from its 367 miles of tunnels and mine shafts.
We’ve toured a lot of mines over the years and they are nearly always dusty affairs, all rusty ruins and splintered timbers — and no place for sandals, But Empire capezio hanami ballet shoes mine owner William Bowers Bourn, Jr., who was educated in England, had a great fondness for English country gardens, Flowers and trees stud the rolling lawns of the Empire’s 856-acre park, Fountains splash, There are lilies in the reflecting pool, for heaven’s sake, Despite the relentless, thunderous pounding of the nearby stamp mill, which crushed ore 24 hours a day and could be heard miles away, the Bourn family summered and partied in an immense stone “cottage” on the property, Time your visit right and you can tour the formal gardens and Bourns’ now-serene summer home, designed by Willis Polk in 1897, then segue straight into a second tour that takes you into the mine yard — which is dusty, rusty and fascinating..
Don’t wear sandals. Gold Rush Museum: Open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday at 601 Lincoln Way, Auburn; www.placer.ca.gov/departments/facility/placermuseums. Bernhard Museum: Housed in the 1851 Traveler’s Rest Hotel, carriage barn and winery, the Bernhard Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday at 291 Auburn-Folsom Road, Auburn. www.placer.ca.gov. Placer County Museum: This wonderful, small museum on the first floor of the historic courthouse covers county history from its early Nisenan inhabitants into the 20th century. Be sure to check out the Placer County Gold collection, the holographic mining display and the women’s prison tucked under a portico at ground level (psst, there’s a button to turn on the light). Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 101 Maple St., Auburn; www.placer.ca.gov.
Gold Country Medical Museum: Built in 1855 as a hospital for miners, this structure houses exhibits on medical history, with vintage medical and pharmaceutical artifacts from the Gold Rush to the mid-20th century, Run by volunteers, the museum is open most weekends from 10 a.m, to 3 p.m., but call before you go, 219 Maple St., Auburn; www.goldcountrymedicalmuseum.com, Joss House Museum: Exhibits in this 1850 building tell the history of the earliest Chinese settlers in this area, Open on the capezio hanami ballet shoes first Saturday of the month from about noon to 4 p.m., but best to call before you go. 200 Sacramento St., Auburn; www.facebook.com/AuburnJossHouse..