Empire Mine

Park Brochure

brochure Empire Mine - Park Brochure
Our Mission Empire Mine State Historic Park The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Empire Mine State Historic Park — site of one of the largest, richest, and longest-operating (1850-1956) gold mines in California — produced more than eight billion California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (530) 273-8522. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact interp@parks.ca.gov. dollars in gold by today’s standards. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Empire Mine State Historic Park 10791 East Empire Street Grass Valley, CA 95945 (530) 273-8522 © 2012 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) ca. 1898 E mpire Mine State Historic Park preserves what was once California’s richest gold-producing mine. Located in the western Sierra Nevada 50 miles from Sacramento, this 856-acre park sits among beautifully forested foothills at elevations of 2,500 to 2,900 feet. Its 367 miles of deep mine shafts form a maze that is impressive to this day. PaRK HISTORY Native Americans At least 10,000 years ago, the western Sierra Nevada was populated by the Foothill Nisenan. Their lands were made up of the Yuba, American, and Bear River drainages and parts of the Feather River. The 1848 gold discovery brought tens of thousands of fortune-seekers to California, devastating the lives of the Nisenan. These so-called “Forty-niners” took the lands that the Nisenan had occupied for thousands of Mine Manager’s Office years and claimed it for mining, farming, and logging. Many Nisenan died from exposure to smallpox, measles, and other diseases to which they had no immunity. Today, Nisenan descendants live on and near traditional tribal lands, teaching their culture and language to a new generation. New Mining Methods In 1850, prospectors found gold-bearing quartz in what is now Grass Valley. Traditional placer-mining methods, in which water was used to wash gold deposits from the sand or gravel of stream beds, was ineffective in this area. Instead, the miners used “hardrock” mining methods, in which men in buckets were lowered into deep shafts (coyote holes) resembling water wells to chip and drill through the rock. After filling the drill holes with black powder, they detonated it, loaded the blasted rock into ore cars, and took it to the mine headframe for primary crushing. Assay Office ca. 1890 At the stamp mill, the crushed ore, mixed with water, was placed on copper plates coated with mercury. The mercury-coated copper combined with “free” gold to form an amalgam. Water washed away any impurities, and the cleaned amalgam went to the refinery for further processing. In 1905 the Empire adopted a more efficient mining method. In this process, cyanide was used to dissolve gold while it Refinery Room until they became too old to work. The Empire Mine did not begin to prosper until 1869, after San Francisco businessman William B. Bourn, Sr., acquired a controlling interest. Production dropped in 1874, followed by Mr. Bourn’s sudden death that same year. he had gone from loading rocks and ore into cars (mucker) to superintendent. In 1893 Starr— by then considered a mining genius — left to work in South Modernization and Mules Africa’s gold mines. When Until mules were introduced, miners moved Starr visited San Francisco the ore-laden cars manually. Known as one a few years later, Bourn of the most efficiently operated gold mines convinced him to return William Bowers Bourn, Jr. in the U.S., the Empire counted among its to the Empire, where Starr improvements the use of mules to pull ore In 1879, Mr. Bourn’s 22-year-old worked another 30 years. cars. The mules lived in underground barns son, William B. Bourn, Jr., took After 1929 the Empire over management Mine — first combined with of the mine to keep it William Bourn, Jr. the North Star Mine as Empirefrom closing. Fortunately, Star Mines Ltd. and then sold to he was able to lead the mine Newmont Mining — produced enough gold back to profit. He was later to keep the Great Depression of the 1930s able to push several mine just a story in the local newspapers. shafts past the 1,200-foot level End of the Empire that had been considered the maximum depth. The mine closed during World War II when many miners enlisted. In 1945 the mine George W. Starr reopened, but gold was still at its 1934 Mr. Bourn’s 19-year-old cousin, price — $35 per troy ounce. Unfortunately, it George W. Starr, began work then cost more to bring gold to the surface at the mine in 1881. By 1887 than it was worth. However, mining efforts continued for another decade. In 1956, ca. 1870 The Cornishmen when the Empire closed, it had yielded Cornish miners, who arrived from Cornwall, England, around nearly six million troy ounces of gold — a the mid-1850s, brought with them a well-honed work ethic and true bonanza. 1,000 years of history as hard rock miners. They also brought the Geology Cornish pump, which allowed them to pump water out of the Gold deposits of the Grass Valley mining 1,200-foot mine shafts. district occur in quartz veins deep under When shafts were drilled below the earth’s water table, ground. Granite bodies called plutons were they would fill with water. Each Cornish pump could draw formed when molten rock (magma) slowly 18,000 gallons of water per hour from the shafts, replacing manual mud diggers. Between the late 1870s and 1956, cooled below the surface of the earth. when the mine closed, Cornishmen provided the bulk of the During the final stages of cooling, liquids mine’s labor force. with dissolved silica and gold pushed their Crystalline gold was still embedded in the quartz. The gold could then be leached out of the quartz ore in a liquid form. The cyanide method is still in use around the world. from Empire’s Pennsylvania Mine ca. 1940 way into the fractures, shear zones, and fault lines of older rocks and hardened, forming the solid veins of gold found in quartz. These geologic actions, happening miles below the surface of the ancestral Sierra Nevada, were later uplifted and revealed by tectonic movement. ACCESSIBLE features Due to historic doorway widths and steep stepwells, not all exhibits and attractions are accessible. To arrange for transportation, to borrow wide-tire wheelchairs, or for information on alternative entries or lifts, ca. 1940 ask at the visitor center, call the park, or visit http://access.parks.ca.gov. Exhibits / Programs — The visitor center and museum are generally accessible. Parking / Restrooms — Parking on the south side of Empire Street allows close and safe access. Accessible restrooms are near the south parking lot. Mine shops and exhibits area — Routes through the park include some paved walkways, some sloping terrain, and shifting gravel. Restrooms are generally accessible. Empire Cottage — The first floor of the cottage interior, generally accessible except for one tight hallway, is shown by guided tour only. Formal gardens may be seen from above at the ramp to the cottage. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park 23579 North Bloomfield Park Road Nevada City 95959 (530) 265-2740 • South Yuba River State Park 17660 Pleasant Valley Road Penn Valley 95946 (530) 432-2546 PLEASE REMEMBER • Stay on marked trails. • To ensure public safety, some areas are fenced and closed to the public. • Drinking water and restrooms are not available along the trails. • Watch out for poison oak, ticks, and rattlesnakes. • Roads and trails allow dogs on a sixfoot leash only. Except for service animals, dogs are not allowed inside historic buildings or in mine shafts. • All natural and cultural features are protected by law and may not be disturbed or removed. ca. 1940 st Em St ree 18 t rk Pa Reflecting Pool Rowe Headframe Me m o r i a l e pir Formal Gardens Empire Mine Cross Rd Ea 17 174 Ore Bin Tr l E e p ir Legend et Major Road Paved Road Paved Path 16 Hiking Trail Somerset Drive Park Entrance Em ast e Str Multi-Use Trail Garage (Hike/Bike/Horse) Historic Area 15 New Rich Hill Shaft Historic Building Site 1 2 3 4 6 5 Historic Building Mine Equipment Exhibit 7 EMPIRE MINE HISTORIC AREA Caretaker’s Residence 9 8 Stamp Display 0 0 100 25 200 50 14 300 Feet 100 Meters to site of Cyanide Plant 10 11 Tool Sharpening Shop 19 Buildings and Sites 1. Visitor Center and Model Room The former carriage and automobile house is now the visitor center. Gold samples are on display. The sprawling scale model display of the Empire-Star Mine complex dates back to 1938. The once-secret model was regularly updated to reflect the growth of the mine. 2. Mining Engineer’s Office After the 1929 merger with North Star Mine, this office housed the new engineering staff hired to plan and direct the mine’s growth. 3. Mine Manager’s Office This restored 1898 office represents the ownership periods of both William Bourn, Jr. and the Newmont Mining Corporation. 12 13 Hoist Cable Structure Accessible Feature Horse Staging Area Mine Picnic Area Transformer 28 0 Restroom0 Auxiliary Hardrock Generator Trail Parking Visitor Center 4. Assay Office Values were assigned to each gold sample here; it now serves as a rescue station. 5. Refinery Room Mercury from the stamp mill was recycled, and the remaining sponge-shaped gold nuggets were cast into 89-pound bars and taken to San Francisco’s U.S. Mint. After the cyanide process was installed in 1910, additional furnaces more efficiently recovered the gold and silver. and from the mine. From the headframe’s crusher, ore went to the stamp mill for further processing. 6. Warehouse Reconstructed by volunteers in 1989, this former hay- and supply-storage area is now a meeting and training facility. 12. Compressor Building The compressors pumped air into the mine to ventilate it, and to operate machinery. 7. Welding Shop Site After the mine closed, the old metal shop, where equipment had been fabricated and repaired, was torn down and sold. 8. Machine Shop By 1886, Pelton water wheels provided energy to run operations and lights. The leather belts and ceiling-mounted shafts and wheels are still in place. 9. Shaft Viewing Area The ore “skips” that moved the rock to waiting ore cars sped through this portal at 600 and 1,200 feet a minute. The deepest shaft is more than 5,000 vertical feet down. 10. Blacksmith Shop In the early days, equipment — from door hinges to pump covers and stamps — was fabricated in the company shops. 11. Headframe Site The mine’s headframe, demolished in 1969, supported a track that carried men, equipment, and rock to Blacksmith Shop 13. Hoist House Here, skilled hoistmen raised and lowered men, supplies, waste rock, and ore to and from the various mine levels. Garden and greenhouse to distinguish it from Mr. Bourn’s 14. Stamp Mill Site Little remains of this building. Heirloom roses other homes. The main floor holds the kitchen, service rooms, living Early in the process, its eighty room, dining room, and a reading room later stamps smashed the raw ore, which was used as a bedroom by Mr. Bourn, Jr. Four then washed over mercury-coated tables to bedrooms and two baths are on the second capture the gold. floor. The servants’ rooms and a bathroom 15. Empire Clubhouse were located above the kitchen. William Bourn, Jr. built the clubhouse for 18. Gardener’s House and Greenhouse use by his supervisory personnel and as The Bourns loved trees and flowers of all a place to entertain visiting guests. The kinds. The nearly 1,000 vintage rose bushes 1905 clubhouse is still used by the Empire seen in the formal garden and on the Country Club and for park special events. landscaped grounds were cultivated in 16. Starr Home Site their greenhouse. Only the foundation of Ophir Cottage, 19. Cyanide Plant Site (1910) George Starr’s home, remains. Flames Earlier methods of recovering gold were destroyed it on October 28, 1935, despite replaced by adding sodium cyanide to all efforts to save it. crushed ore. The cyanide dissolved and 17. Empire Cottage separated the gold from sulfides. This area This English manor home, designed in 1897 is closed to the public. by architect Willis Polk, was called a cottage Headframe Mine Shaft Machine Shop Orleans Stamp Mill Foundation — This stamp mill was in operation until the early 1900s. Orleans Mine — Under the leadership of William Bourn Jr. (and later the Newmont Mining Corporation), this small claim was absorbed by the Empire Mine. Pennsylvania Mine — The Pennsylvania Mine site is marked by the concrete foundations of its compressor house. W.Y.O.D. Mine — The “Work Your Own Diggins” mine leased claims to miners. Mule Corral — This old corral was home to the mules before they were lowered into the mine. Sand Dam — This waste rock area was high and strong enough to support a narrowgauge rail line across Little Wolf Creek. walking trails The Union Hill, Hardrock, and Osborn Hill Loop trails wind through nearly a century of hardrock mining history. To ensure public safety, some areas of the park are fenced and closed to the public. Union Hill Trails These one- to three-mile trails feature wildflowers in spring. Pipeline Trail — This trail led from the Empire Mine to the Northstar powerhouse. Indian Ridge Trail — This trail was once used by the Nisenan/Maidu people. Union Hill Trail — This trail loops westward from the north Pipeline Trail to the edge of the park next to the town of Grass Valley. Hardrock Trail Area This easy two-mile walk circles much of the Empire’s “outback.” Hardrock Trail — Along this road, trucks moved waste rock. A wooden pedestrian bridge crosses Little Wolf Creek. Stamp Mill Foundation — On this site, California’s first stamp mill crushed goldbearing quartz, treated it with mercury, and turned it into almost pure gold. Cyanide Plant Site (closed to visitors) — Cyanide dissolved gold-bearing sulfides, allowing the recovery of more gold. Trail Fork (Osborn Hill Trails) — From here, Osborn Hill Loop climbs upward, ending near several abandoned mines. Osborn Hill Loop Trail This demanding segment of the Hardrock Trail leads to some abandoned mine sites. Prescott Hill Mine — To the left of the mine’s shaft foundation is the headframe foundation. Betsy Mine — The hoist and pump works of this mine were removed before 1900. Conlon Mine — This mine, difficult to keep drained, closed in 1908. Daisy Hill Mine — Two piles of waste rock mark the site of the small Daisy Hill Mine. This park is supported in part through the nonprofit Empire Mine Park Association 10787 East Empire St. Grass Valley, CA 95945 www.empiremine.org I da h l 26 00 Wo Empire Mine 28 00 State Historic Park 20 2600 Ro ck l D ri ve In d i a n 2800 Si l ve Rid g e Trail il Park Entrance 0 28 I n d ian Ri dg In 00 s an Legend Orleans Mine Major Road Ha Paved Road ek Paved Path Trail: Multi-use d Ro a ll Hi n a d Trail ad Ro Ro ll Hi Fe or Tr a i l 0 0.4 d ne 0.25 00 Tahoe oa e R 50 to Lake 0 0.5 Miles 28 0.8 Kilometers 26 80 Folsom Lake SRA i to San Francisco 5 SacramentoAmerFolsom ican River na k 20 Mi 30 Km M 20 ©2012 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) sb O tl es 10 10 2800 Conlon Mine Conlo n 2200 0 b Ra t ver Ri 0 Os Parking Visitor Center i ve 20 Daisy Hill Mine Dr 20 Nevada City to Colusa 99 Grass Valley Reno Yuba Marysville TAHOE 49 80 NF City 5 65 Auburn Auburn 45 SRA Roseville Restroom rd Empire Mine SHP ll Diggins SHP Picnic Area d fo 49 Malakoff Mine Betsy Mine B ra Sacramento Sutter River SRA Buttes SP Downieville to 80 , Colfax 174 Horse Staging Area rl y M ine T Trail South Yuba River SP PlumasEureka SP 28 Bridge s r he at r ve Ri Accessible Feature B et 00 PLUMAS NF Historic Building 00 L o op to Willows 45 70 H il l en 5 Lake Oroville Bidwell- SRA Sacramento River SP Historic Building Site 174 Crosscut Tra Hill il t ot O s bor n 2600 Sa cram 99 Chico Tr a i l Hi ad to Redding Prescott Hill Mine n Hill Lo op sb ut n ss c or Ro L Cro Historic Area n s w do O sb or n p oo (Hike/Bike/Horse) il or ea ck orn Hill Loo p T Osb rai l M d ro Pr es c r H ar il Tra Osb or ar 49 cott Mine Pres Tra C O re B lf Somerset Drive La Wo e Tr a il e dg an di 28 EMPIRE MINE S TAT E H I S T O R I C PA R K L ittle 00 Tr l l Orle Trail ock Cyanide Plant rd r Hardrock Trail e cey Lan Stassc ut Trail Cro Sand Dam Trail 174 a S er v see detail map top left line ad ice R o Tr il 260 il W.Y.O.D. Mine on Empire Mine Cross Rd t e pir S t ree t Em ni a Tr Stree i Tra ne Pipe Ri U i ll e l Tr L a ne er li pe Pi H Em pire Mule Corral Pennsylvania Mine y 00 st w 26 Ea Lo Upper Union Hill Trai l ai l Hill Tr n i on er U Upp rW ay Hi l ial Park Trail mor Me Tr a Penn Gate Lost Loop Trail 00 Indian Ridge Loop Trail M 174 ld t Bennett R oa d Indian Ridge Loop Trail Go Trai l Sta c Eas A ve Dr 00 ry 26 er cu g i ng Han t Sree ers va 26 r Par Rotaridge d Pine Kate Hayes Street Mi n ke Ln Ln ll D Wa t 24 S Au b u r n St Race Stree Memo r i a l Clark Street 2400 La rk South Fo Wolf Creek Slow Po 174 to 49 , Grass Valley E as t B e n ne t t R o a d tt Street O ph i r St B e n ne 00 3000 28 Hi g h l a nd Drive 00

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