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“Perhaps one of the Best Educational Displays in the Country”

California State Mining and Mineral Museum
Ranked #4 of 20 things to do in Mariposa
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Specialty museum dedicated to the California gold mining industry.
Reviewed 20 January 2014

Many years ago I had the honor of helping to relocate this exhibit from San Francisco to Mariposa. It was sort of a "home-coming" in a way as the exhibit was established to promote early Mother Lode mining enterprises in the state. It has become an excellent display of early mining techniques (with a REAL mine tunnel) and a geological display that is world class. The people of Mariposa County have struggled, for many years, to keep the California State Mining and Mineral Museum alive and well. It is, perhaps, one of the premiere sites along the Golden Chain Highway (Highway 49) that runs through California's Mother Lode Country beginning in Oakhurst (to the South) and running through Nevada City (to the North). A "must see" site for any traveler to this region.

2  Thank Robert B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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48 - 52 of 78 reviews

Reviewed 30 December 2013 via mobile

My husband and I made a point of coming to visit the museum, and were not disappointed. There were lots of incredible examples of every type of rock. We also loved the exhibit on mining.

The staff was friendly and knowledgable, and we were very happy that we came. Not too busy, and open when they said they were.

Thank bpianopilot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 November 2013

A friend of mine runs his own jewelry business, and is a volunteer at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, a fascinating attraction 2 miles south of Mariposa in the Sierra Foothills on Highway 49.We went for a tour, and came away with the view that the place itself is a gem.

The displays of rocks, gems, and minerals focus on those from California, but not to exclusion—some come from as far away as Afghanistan. The shapes, colors, and, textures are dazzling—some even fluoresce under a black light display. And you wind up learning odd and interesting bits of information: did you know what’s the state gem of California? It’s called benitoite, because it’s found in San Benito county—and so valuable that the display pieces are in the museum’s vault, not the general display area.

The museum shows not only examples of the minerals, but gives you an idea of what it takes to get them from inside the earth into the display case. There is mining equipment from various eras, some of which is shown in a walk-through mockup of a mine shaft, built into the side of the hill into which the museum is built. (This exhibit is adorned with photos of mining operations from different eras, and some things never change: a relatively recent photo shows a couple of latter-day 49ers named—wait for it—Smiley Tierney and Sweetwater Clyde.) Most of the equipment is actual, and actual size, but one of the most eye-catching exhibits is a scale model of an ore-processing plant.

If all the above isn’t Wild West enough for you, consider this: on October 1, 2012, low-lifes actually robbed the Museum of about two million dollars worth of gold and gems—but were thwarted in their attempt to take the Fricot Nugget, the world’s largest gold nugget. Hear thrilling tales of (not so yester-)year from the knowledgeable and enthusiastic docents, who exhibit every quality you’d ever want in a tour guide (except maybe a pause button.)

Other info: my guess is that this is not the museum for pre-schoolers, but grade school through adult should have a great time. A really nice touch for both parents and offspring is the Junior Ranger Self Guided Museum Tour and Questions, a sort of blend of an open-book test and scavenger hunt for children. The net effect is that kids and parents can de-couple, with the parents taking in things at their own pace, while the kids chase down answers to questions like “What rare mineral makes bright pink crystals”?

The small gift shop makes a successful effort to selling only items related to the museum’s themes. No food is sold (unless there’s a fairground event going on when you visit), but they do sell cold bottled water—a nice amenity, as summer high temps in Mariposa are usually on the wrong side of ninety.

For more, check out their web site: www.camineralmuseum.com.

So—educational, entertaining, and air-conditioned in the summer—what’s not to like? C u there, fellow rock-hounds!

1  Thank GregM302
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2013

The hours posted were 10-5. It was nearly 11, but no one there (once we found the museum in a very obscure location). Also, no cameras allowed. We stayed an extra day to see Mariposa museums, but this museum (and the history museum) had the ridiculous, unenforceable rule against cameras. Everyone has a phone or tiny camera that will not be detected. What are they afraid of? That we will steal something? We just wanted some photos. Time to get with the times!

4  Thank SezLuckyGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2013

If you enjoy Rocks, Minerals and a bit of California Gold Rush History, this is the place for you. There is a huge collection of specimens and a replica mine tunnel that really give you the feeling of what it must have been like to hard rock gold mine in the 1800's. The kids really enjoy the Junior Ranger Program and at $4 for adults, one of the best bargains going.

2  Thank Boysplus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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