When Mark and I stayed in Rocklin, California for a three-month house and pet sit assignment, we took advantage of the nice weekends to explore the region a bit. Located in the northern part of the Central Valley, Rocklin lies in close proximity to California’s northern gold country, an area that became famous during the 1849 gold rush. Waves of immigrants, now known as the 49ers, were attracted by the rich soils, containing gold and other minerals, and moved to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada to work in the gold mines. Appropriately named State Route 49 is the primary north-south highway through Gold Country, along which many historic mining communities can be visited.
Barely a half an hour drive from us, Auburn was easily accessible for a visit. The main attractions in town are Old Town, the Gold Rush Museum and Placer County Courthouse, which also contains the Historical Museum. After a quick glimpse of town, we preferred the excellent hiking opportunities in Auburn State Recreation Park.
This historic gold mining town offers an easy stroll along cute streets and an old movie theater. Its antique stores, restaurants and old hotel are popular places to visit.
In our opinion, Nevada City has more character than its neighbor Grass Valley. The sloped streets offer historic buildings, many events and a great atmosphere. Mark and I returned another time – without our temporary dog Herk – to visit the Victorian Christmas market in December.
North Star Mine
Near the twin gold rush cities lies this small museum, which was closed for the season when we passed by. It is possible to walk the grounds and the surrounding park any time of the year.
Empire Mine State Park
Empire Mine State Park is a jewel in more than one way. The grounds offer wonderful hiking among many trails and relics, and the museum itself offers an in-depth understanding of the gold rush era in California.
The property is beautifully maintained and you are allowed to enter old buildings, gaze at rusty equipment, partly descend into one of the mine shafts, and observe all the different work spaces of the “golden days”. Many signs explain what you see in front of you. The entrance fee is $7 a person and, believe it or not, dogs are allowed everywhere! This visit comes highly recommended and would make a splendid day trip.
Since we walked all over these sites when visiting, I think this post might be a good contribution to Jo’s Monday Walks. Check out her blog for a wonderful impression of Castro Marim in the Algarve, Portugal.