California State Mining and Mineral Museum
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|California State Mining and Mineral Museum|
|Location||Mariposa County, California, USA|
|Nearest city||Mariposa, California|
|Governing body||California Department of Parks and Recreation|
The California State Mining and Mineral Museum is a museum in the state park system of California, USA, interpreting the state's mineral resources and mining heritage. It is located in Mariposa on the Mariposa County fairgrounds.
The big news of 1848 was the discovery of gold in California. This event created international interest and soon a mass immigration of fortune seekers and pioneers trekked their way to pan the streams for gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills. More than a century later, gold and legends of Old West mining continue to fascinate historians.
Although this is one of California's newest state parks, the museum houses a collection that was started in 1865 in San Francisco — the official California State Mineral Collection, with over 13,000 minerals, rocks, gems, fossils, and historic artifacts. Recently returned (in 2000) is the popular crystalline gold "Fricot Nugget", weighing 201 troy ounces (6.25 kg) — the largest one found during the Gold Rush.
Illustrative of days long-gone is a working scale model of a stamp mill, demonstrating the process of extracting gold from quartz rock. In spring of 2001, the mining tunnel connected to the museum was reopened. The tunnel is a trip back through time, focusing on the lives of miners working in California's hard rock mines during the later part of the Gold Rush. It allows visitors to experience first-hand what it felt like to spend the day working inside a dark, cool and damp underground chamber, excavated from solid rock and shored up with timbers.
A visit to the California State Mining and Mineral Museum offers the visitor the chance to explore the wealth of the Mother Lode, view minerals and gems from around the world, and to experience a little bit of California's mining history adventures. Throughout the year special rotating displays from private collections and other institutions will be exhibited, making return trips to this museum well worth your time.
Educators can call the museum for information on curriculum based educational programs for Grades 1 to 12 and college level.
The California Mining and Mineral Museum was one of the 48 California state parks proposed for closure in January 2008 during the Arnold Schwarzenegger administration as part of a deficit reduction program.
On October 1, 2012, thieves stole an estimated $2 million in gold and gems, but were unable to take the Fricot Nugget. Five men were arrested, but the stolen items had not been recovered as of late 2012.