Holidays at Empire Mine |

Holidays at Empire Mine

Docent Caryl Fairfull and four-and-a-half-year-old Sierra Arbaugh put the finishing touches on the Bourn Cottage tree to create a magical, memorable experience at Empire MIne State Park,
Photo by Dreamspinner Productions |

Know & Go

What: Holidays at Empire Mine

When: Friday and Saturday. Activities from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Where: Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 East Empire St., Grass Valley

Cost: $7 for adults 17+, $3 for children 6-16, younger than 6 free

Information: 530-273-8522, or

A visit to Holidays at Empire Mine is a journey back to the early 1900s, when the mine was enjoying its heady heydays as one of the oldest, largest and most prosperous hard-rock gold mines in North America.

“Everyone’s invited,” said event Chairwoman Patricia Speer. “Many people are in a quandary about what to do after Thanksgiving, especially when their family and friends span a wide age range. Holidays at Empire Mine is the ideal way to start the festive season, and there truly is something to appeal to every age.”

Children (and the young at heart) can share their Christmas wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the old clubhouse.

With its traditional decorations, toasty-warm fireplace and plenty of candy canes, many visitors say it’s like a scene from an old-fashioned Christmas card come to life. Just a short walk up the path is beautiful Bourn Cottage, where guests will receive another warm welcome.

Docents in lavish period costumes will greet guests, and chat about our colorful local history. In fact, docents portraying Mr. and Mrs. William Bourn Jr., Mr. and Mrs. George Starr and architect Willis Polk will be on hand.

In the kitchen, housekeeper Katie Moriarty will be serving homemade star cookies and spiced cider, and the String Sisters will be playing festive music in the dining room.

For adults, it’s a memorable visit to our past. For children, it’s a magical introduction to those who shaped our history.

The mine yard will be bustling with activity, and a visit to the blacksmith shop is highly recommended. The forges will be ready for action, and the smithies always have a tale to tell.

The gift shop is a treasure trove for mining buffs — well-stocked with artifacts, gems, rocks and Empire Mine memorabilia.

“We really go all out for this event,” Speer said. “It’s a rare chance to enjoy local history, magnificent decorations, costumes and family fun for all ages. It also gives first-time visitors a chance to experience our fascinating gold history firsthand. ”

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