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Gold mines

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Gold mines

Hi everybody

We’re driving from Fairfield to Yosemite View Lodge (EL Portal) on Friday 9th May 2014.We plan to stop at Angels Camp, Columbia and also take a tour of a mine. We have read about some gold mines in other people’s postings ( the posts do all seem to be quite old) but after doing more research on their websites, they are either closed or only open at the weekend.

Gold Cliff….closed, Sutter………..closed, Kennedy……Only open Saturday & Sunday. We read you can take a tour of a mine at Columbia State Park, but there’s no mention of a gold mine on their website. It only says you can pan for gold. Does anyone have any suggestions of a gold mine near Angels Camp or somewhere else on route?

Also can anyone suggest a good route to drive? and by a good route I don’t necessarily mean the quickest.

Thanking everybody in advance.

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Angels Camp
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1. Re: Gold mines

The gold panning in Columbia is not in a mine or a stream, but in a tank of water where they plant flecks of iron pyrite and some real gold. It’s fun, but a bigger thrill for kids than adults. Columbia as a historic Gold Rush community is well worth visiting.

Here is a website listing some opportunities for prospecting in the Mother Lode; I don’t know how old the listings are, so you might check with them individually. I was at the Jensen Pick and Shovel Ranch years ago, but don’t know its present status. Most of these outfits will rent pans and other gear and teach you how to prospect, then you have an agreement where you keep a certain percentage of the gold you find.

www.creeksideretreat.com/gold_prospecting.htm

The longer scenic route from Fairfield to Yosemite is to go through Sacramento to Placerville and pick up Hwy 49 there. The original 1849 gold discovery site is at Coloma, only 8 miles north of Placerville. Like Columbia, it is a state historic park with many preserved and re-created buildings, ruins, and pieces of mining apparatus. You’ll see arrastres, monitors, sluices, and all manner of equipment used to pull ore out of the earth and refine it. At Coloma, there’s also a place where you can learn to pan gold for a fee (you’re guaranteed to get some gold and also tiny chips of garnet which occur naturally in the area). Then you can walk across a bridge over the American River to a bank where public panning is allowed.

In the town of Placerville itself is Gold Bug Park, which contains historic mining structures and relics, including a hard-rock gold mine that you can tour for a small fee. I’ve taken the tour, which is very enjoyable. You get a flashlight and a helmet, and you get the feel of what it was like to burrow into the innards of the earth in search of riches.

http://www.goldbugpark.org/

Most prospecting by individuals in the central Mother Lode was placer (rhymes with passer) mining, meaning the ore is washed down from the original lode by erosion and deposited in a streambed or other spot where it is then found. “Placer” is the Spanish word for “place.” Hard-rock mining was less common, since it’s more costly and labor-intensive. Some of the worst environmental damage in California history came from hard-rock mining performed with high-pressure water streams that pulverized hillsides to get at the ore, washing vast amounts of sand, dirt, and silt into streams, rivers, and ultimately San Francisco Bay.

If you take the most direct route from Fairfield to Yosemite, you’ll take Hwy 12 and Hwy 4, and go through the town of Sonora. This route is about 120 miles to Sonora, and about 50 miles farther to the Yosemite park entrance. You will miss the Mother Lode almost completely. An alternative to this is to stay on Hwy 12 after Lodi and go on to San Andreas, but even this will give you only a glimpse of the Mother Lode. And frankly, most of the area east of Hwy 49, the San Joaquin Valley, is fairly flat farmland and not that dramatic. IMO you would enjoy going all the way on Hwy 49 from Placerville more, even though it is longer and more “work.”

Going via Placerville and Coloma adds about 70 miles, but it is much more interesting. Hwy 49 is named for the 1849 Gold Rush. All the towns along it grew from mining, and have well preserved historic buildings that now house restaurants, hotels or B&Bs, shops, county buildings and libraries and such, and private residences. Hwy 49 is entirely rural, often twisty, but paved and safe. If you take this route, you may want to consider stopping over someplace to make it more relaxing and allow plenty of time for activities and a leisurely dinner and sleep, but that’s something you can decide. All the Mother Lode towns have full visitor services. The biggest selection of lodgings will be in Angels Camp and Sonora.

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2. Re: Gold mines

For mines you might consider a trip to Virginia City just South of Reno. Not gold but Silver for the most part one right under the downtown area.

This is historically a very interesting area (IMO) with the normal Ticky/Tack stuff along with real history. Other than feeding a parking meter you do not have to buy anything.

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Reno
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3. Re: Gold mines

The Kennedy Mine area is worth stopping by even if the mine is closed:

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32535-d14… Jackson has a number of interesting places to see.

You might contact some of the museums in the area to see if they know of any mines open. There is a very good museum in San Andreas called the Calaveras County Museum. The town of Columbia has very little going on in the off season but by May perhaps there is more activity.

Also, there is a regular poster here on TripAdvisor who lives in that general area and may have more information for you!

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Jackson
Jackson
Jackson Hole, WY
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4. Re: Gold mines

Thanks everybody for info

There's some interesting suggestions there. The route going via Placerville seems a really good idea, much better than the route we was going to use, which was going to be via Angels Camp and is only about 1 hour longer (according to google maps). Gold Bug Park will be a interesting place for break and then another stop at Columbia, before pushing on to Yosemite. This seems to be enough to do in one day. I know there's plenty more to see and do, but we've got quite a tight itinerary and there isn't any time for a stop over . Also Peddler, there won't be enough time to drive to Virginia City as much as visiting a silver mine seems a good idea.

To be completely honest it wasn't until we started to work out the route between Fairfield and Yosemite that we realised there was anything worth going to see.

Again, I would like to thank the three of you for your input. The information and advice that we have received so far on trip advisor, will make a big difference to our enjoyment on our ''once in a lifetime'' holiday.

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Placerville
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Angels Camp
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5. Re: Gold mines

So as not to confuse our guests from the UK -----

In an above post, someone wrote > > > And frankly, most of the area east of Hwy 49, the San Joaquin Valley, is fairly flat farmland and not that dramatic.

CORRECTION --- THE SENTENCE SHOULD READ:

. . . most of the area WEST of Hwy 49, the San Joaquin Valley, is fairly flat farmland and not that dramatic.

_________________________

The area EAST of Hwy 49 is the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

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6. Re: Gold mines

The following would not take you very far off your route. Check out this web site for Gold Bug Mine open 10-4 daily in Placerville, just east of Sacramento, CA on Highway 50. I suggest you call first to confirm hours of gold mine tours.

http://www.goldbugpark.org/

Travel times driving:

30 min FREEWAY 50: Sacramento to Placerville

60 min Highway 49: Placerville to Jackson

60 min Highway 49: Jackson to Sonora

60 min Highway 49 & 120: Sonora to Big Oak Flat Entrance, Yosemite National Park

P.S. Amador City and Sutter Creek are two waaaaay real cute gold rush villages, both located within 5 miles north of Jackson. North of Jackson, CA be on the look out for the exit east off Highway 49, otherwise, you will by-pass both of these cute villages.

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Placerville
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Jackson
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7. Re: Gold mines

** CORRECTION --- THE SENTENCE SHOULD READ:

. . . most of the area WEST of Hwy 49, the San Joaquin Valley, is fairly flat farmland and not that dramatic. **

Ouch. Thanks for catching that, JackRabbit. With the seasoned TAs here, I'm surprised it wasn't spotted sooner (lol).

Long Barn...
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8. Re: Gold mines

I know you were asking about Gold mines, but maybe you might be interested in Mercer Caverns which is only a few miles away from Angels Camp.

http://www.mercercaverns.com/

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Angels Camp
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9. Re: Gold mines

Someone above posted that there is little going on in Columbia in the off season but by May perhaps there is more activity.

OUCH! BIG ouch! In fact, a HUGE ouch!

Wondering where THAT rumor got started! True, the Gold Diggins are not held in the winter months and some other events like the Old-Fashioned Fourth Of July celebration (smile), but the Autumn and Christmas festivities are not held in the summer months either! Too many events, not enough months in the calendar!

Here is the link for upcoming Autumn and Winter events at Columbia State Historic Park ----

visitcolumbiacalifornia.com/events/upcoming/

Columbia Museum: Fall/Winter hours 10-4pm. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

And here is the official State of California park web site link for Columbia State Historic Park ----

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=552

Edited: 20 October 2013, 14:37
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Columbia State Historic Park
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10. Re: Gold mines

P.S.

Forgot to mention the Fallon House Theatre fall schedule (cast members from LA, San Francisco and New York) ----

"HARVEY" at Fallon House Theatre, Columbia State Historic Park, CA

Oct 15 - Nov 24, 2013

Here is the web link ----

http://www.sierrarep.org/

The Lamplight Tours held each year in early December always sell out. The entire village of Columbia becomes a living theatre production for these events with around 200 cast members (many cast are the docents which are local).

Edited: 20 October 2013, 14:50
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