About the Museum
For more information & pictures visit our webpage on the State Parks website
"There's gold in the hills of California!" These words echoed around the world in 1848 and started a mass migration to the wilderness of interior California. Gold seekers trekked from every part of the world and every walk of life to sift the streams for gold. Mining companies brought machines to the mountains and turned camps into boomtowns as they blasted and dug deep into the earth to follow the gold bearing veins.
There is still gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, in historic Mariposa. This is where explorers John C. Fremont and Kit Carson found the rich Mariposa Vein and opened the first mill to crush ore and extract gold in California. You are invited to discover for yourself California's mineral wealth, colorful history and geologic diversity as you view the official mineral collection of the State of California. The collection, which began in 1880, contains over 13,000 objects including mining artifacts, rare specimens of crystalline gold in its many forms, as well as beautiful gem and mineral specimens from California and around the world.
We are proud to display the Fricot "Nugget", a rare and beautiful specimen of crystallized gold discovered in the American River in 1864. This spectacular 13.8 pound specimen is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from 19th century California, when these finds were more common but usually were simply melted down. You can also take a trip back in time as you walk through our 200 foot long, underground mine tunnel. See how gold was mined in the mid-1800s, when California was a wilderness, being transformed by rapid development. Our assay office and working scale model of a stamp mill will help you discover how gold was found and extracted from the rocks.
Our museum shop offers a wide variety of jewelry, mineral art, crystals and mineral specimens as, well as many books about rocks, minerals, prospecting, mining, and California history.
The museum is dedicated to helping families and students learn about the importance of mining and minerals to our history, our environment, and our future. We offer free activities for children and youth groups, including our Junior Ranger Program. Gold panning is available on selected weekends. (Call for availability) We also provide school tours relating to geology, rocks and minerals, the gold rush, and mining history to thousands of students each year. Call for tour information.
A visit to the California State Mining and Mineral Museum offers you the chance to explore the variety of California's mineral wealth, view breathtaking gems and minerals from around the world, and to experience a bit of California's exciting mining history. This museum is a must see stop on any trip through the Mother Lode gold country or to nearby Yosemite National Park.