California State Mining and Mineral Museum
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. Visitors can discover for themselves California's mineral wealth, colorful history, and geologic diversity as they 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. The museum displays the Fricot "Nugget," a rare specimen of crystallized gold discovered in the American River in 1864. This 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. Visitors can also take a trip back in time as they walk through a mine tunnel and see how gold was mined in the mid-1800s, when California was a wilderness, being transformed by rapid development. The museum's assay office and working scale model of a stamp mill will help visitors discover how gold was found and extracted from the rocks.
The museum offers exhibits, tours, educational programs, and educational and recreational events.