Springtime at the Mine offers a chance to look back at Nevada County history | TheUnion.com

Springtime at the Mine offers a chance to look back at Nevada County history

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector


WHAT: Springtime in the Park hosted by the Empire Mine State Park Association

Where: Empire State Mine

When: Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How: Grandmothers and children under 6 receive free admission. Parking is also free. Adults 17 and over $7. Ages 6-16 are $3.

Nevada County has a rich mining history that is kept alive, in part, by the curators of the historic Empire Mine State Park.

Each year, members of the Empire Mine Park Association host several events that give community members as well as visitors to the community the opportunity to experience the mine as it was in its heyday. One of those occasions is “Springtime at the Mine,” happening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Traditionally held on Mother’s Day, the unique event is being held one day early, but will still offer many special opportunities to delight mom and the entire family.

Empire Mine Park Association Special Events Chairperson, Steve Sanchez, says docents will be out in period attire portraying many of the historical figures who ran and worked at the mine.

“We want people to know the Empire Mine is here and here to stay. We feel the park brings great joy to the community and we want everyone to come out and have a picnic on the lawns or purchase some food from the vendors we will have on site and just enjoy the day.”

It is a wonderful time to walk the grounds as the gardens are in full bloom.

Vendors include Sweenie’s Weenies, Lazy Dog Ice Cream and, for the first time, BackPorch Market will be on hand. Patrons have the choice of bringing food, blankets and chairs to create their own picnic at the mine as well.

Complimentary cups of tea will be available in the tea garden. Docents dressed as members of the Bourn family (who owned the mine from 1869-1928) and other historical figures may be found mingling among the guests.

There will plenty of activities for children, including the popular Potting Bench which gives kids a chance to plant a flower to give to mom or another special someone in their lives. Lincoln logs will be out for building and an area will be set up to make stick ponies.

A variety of local musicians are scheduled to play throughout the park.

The mine yard will be active with many of the buildings open including blacksmiths telling stories as they create tools of the era.

“The Blacksmith’s will be hammering away,” Sanchez said. “Go into the Blacksmith shop and listen to their stories as they make courting candles, barbecue turners, bottle openers and all kinds of things. You can chat with them, ask questions, listen to stories and have some fun.”

Visitors may be surprised to learn a great deal of gold still is in the ground, unmined, though $5.6 million dollars’ worth of gold was removed before it closed in 1956. Throughout the day, docents will share this and other interesting facts about the mine’s history.

While this particular event is not considered a major fundraiser, Empire Mine Park Association is tasked with raising money to help pay for maintenance not covered in the state budget.

“We raise the money to maintain and preserve the Empire Park,” Sanchez said. “Some of these buildings are over 100 years old and they need some work. We put on events and raise money that stays at the park to replace leaky roofs, replace bricks, and other maintenance projects and we fund projects that will protect the history that are requested by the parks ‘Over-the-hill-gang’ for instance, soon there will be a display of some of the preserved dresses owned by Mrs. Bourn.”

When asked why he gives so much of his time and effort to the park, Sanchez said, “I do not want the park to go away. These historical parks should be maintained and preserved and that is exactly what my intentions are to do. This is history. This is gold mining country. This is where it all happened. I do not think the state is going to fund something to bring it back. When it’s gone, it’s gone. So I just work to raise money and keep these historical parks open. It is a very gratifying feeling to give back to the community. I know I am doing something good.”

The group’s major fundraiser, “Mine, Wine and Dine” is Aug. 2 and tickets will available soon but the association is looking for sponsors now. Information is available on the website, http://www.empiremine.org.

“We really pride ourselves in keeping the park beautiful,” Sanchez said. “It’s a good time to come out to the park and enjoy the beautiful grounds.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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