Destination California: Mariposa, California State Mining & Mineral Museum

Destination California

MARIPOSA, Calif. (KSEE24) – Just outside of Yosemite is a hidden gem that has some of California’s most valued treasures.

          You may not realize it when you see a sign for the Mariposa County Fairgrounds off of Highway 49 but the small foothill town is the gateway to California Gold Rush History.

          “So 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 down time when they are not in the park. And our museum is a frequent stop,” said Natalie Sanman, California State Mining & Mineral Museum.

          The California State Mining & 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 relieve 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.

          When you come out of the mine you hear right into the mine museum. Several tools used by miners during the gold rush are on display. Among them are a gold pan and dry washer.

          And right above that display is a replica mine cart just the ones used during the gold rush era.

          Plus you can watch and listen to the sounds of a miniature stamp mill. The device was used to crush rocks in the hopes of catching pieces of gold.

          Don’t forget to check out the safe full or 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,” said Sanman.

If the 13 pound piece of crystalline gold doesn’t catch your attention maybe a cool collection of glow in the dark rocks will.

          The museum is open Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $4, children under the age of 12 are free. For more information go to the California State Mining & Mineral Museum website:      

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