Susan George: The enduring value of gold mining |

Susan George: The enduring value of gold mining

The dazzling lights, carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and toasty fire pits along the streets of our historic downtowns captivate our senses, taking us back in time to Christmas celebrations as they were in the early 1900s.

These holiday festivities bring our history to life and tell stories that attract visitors who travel to experience a sense of place, art and culture, and an authentic representation of the stories and people of the past.

Did you know?

Each year Nevada City, recognized as one of the most well-preserved Gold Rush era towns, transforms into a picturesque Christmas card come to life.

Lamp-lit streets are lined with one hundred vendors and charming downtown shops and restaurants offer holiday treasures.

Tour buses bring visitors from out of the area seeking a nostalgic holiday experience and each day of Victorian Christmas draws approximately 2000 people, both local and from out of town.

This magical event is presented by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce on Sunday afternoons from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 3, 10 and 17, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday evenings, Dec. 13 and 20.

Likewise, thousands of people attend Cornish Christmas each year to enjoy a holiday celebration that honors the heritage and holiday traditions of Grass Valley’s Cornish miners.

Legendary Tommyknockers, called knockers by the miners, clog for the crowds and up and down the streets of historic downtown Grass Valley live music, hand-made crafts of vendors, charming shops and restaurants buzz with holiday cheer.

The 50th annual Cornish Christmas is presented by the Grass Valley Downtown Association and will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, and Dec. 1, 8, 15, and 22.

Docents dressed in Victorian costume portray the esteemed Bourn Family and bring to life the holidays as they were in the early 1900s during the time Empire Mine was one of the most prosperous hard-rock gold mines in North America.

Holidays at Empire Mine is presented by the Empire Mine Park Association, a volunteer group dedicated to adding new educational-and-historic attractions and generally caring for Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Enjoy the season, our gold rush history and support the Park at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The impact of gold mining, ever present in our charming historic downtowns and state parks, remains an important contribution to our local economy.

Well preserved architecture, artifacts and traditions from the vibrant gold rush era attract visitors who appreciate unique travel adventures and visitors need places to stay, meals to eat, and often some nightlife all of which support present day businesses and provide jobs.

Small business Saturday in Penn Valley

The Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce is presenting the second annual Small Business Saturday on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Small Business Saturday shopping excursion through the Penn Valley Village Center, begins with checking in and picking up a shopping card at the Chamber booth set outside Wildflower Nursery Garden and Gift Shoppe located at 10493 Spenceville Road in Penn Valley.

Call on and have your shopping card stamped at all participating businesses to receive a free Penn Valley Christmas ornament and a chance to win $500 gift card for Penn Valley True Value Hardware.

For more information, please contact the Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce at 530-432-1802 or

Wishing all a joyous holiday season!

Susan George is a co-founder of The Nevada County Regional Chambers of Commerce. She can be reached at

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