Last week we took a day trip to the Empire Mine State Historic Park. It’s up north and east of Sacramento, a 2 1/2 hour drive from our house, so we started out pretty early. Unfortunately, we got lost a few times on the way (Thanks Map Quest!) so it took us longer than that. The Park opens at 10:00 am and the tours start at 11:00. We got there at 11:30, so we spent some time in the museum which was great. They have a scale model of the mine with a recorded narrative which was really interesting. Then we took the first tour which was the Mine Yard which featured lots of old mine equipment. Here is the Ore Stamper which crushed the ore. When the mine was active, there were 80 of these running full-time. The mine was so loud that they could hear it all the way in the town.
We even got to go a little way down into the mine, but it was just too dark to take pictures. The mine is flooded now, and if they ever wanted to start it up again, they would have to pump all of the water out first – which would take many months and be very expensive.
As soon as the mine tour was over, we ran over and joined the Cottage and Grounds tour. We saw the owners club house and cottage, but once again, it was just too dark to get good pictures. Here is a stuffed moose in the ballroom which was smaller than our living room, they sure didn’t have very many people dancing in there! Each tour took an hour, and in spite of not being able to get any pictures, we really enjoyed them.
In addition to the area where the buildings and tours are (and where you pay $7 apiece to get in) there are 845 acres of trails that you can hike for free. We thought that this would be the best part (and it was!), so Al and I took off on a 2 mile hike through the woods. We came across the abandoned Orleans mine, here I am with some old, rusted equipment.
And just a few yard along, we came across the abandoned Assay Office.
The hike was on gravel paths and was almost totally shaded, and all the ground beside the trail was covered with wild peas.
Near the end of the hike, we came across the abandoned Pennsylvania mine. Al took a short rest in the abandoned building.