Mine State Park
George Roberts, a lumberman, discovered the Empire Mine
originally in 1850. While surveying timber in the area the
lumberman happened to glance down at his boots, which were
covered with tiny gold flakes. Believing the land held little
gold and too hard to mine, George sold the land and rights
for only $350. Within 13 years of this sale over a million
dollars in gold was brought to the surface. Eventually the
mine produced over 5.6 million ounces of gold before its
closure in 1956.
the Empire Mine still hoards its treasure as geologists
figure that only 20% of the gold has been removed from the
mine. The Mine boasts an unbelievable 367 miles of now abandoned
and flooded shafts and extends 11,000 feet on the incline
a mile below the surface. The task of keeping track
of so many tunnels was handled in what was called the “Secret
Room” where a scale model was created and updated.
Today the model can be viewed in the Park’s museum.
men attributed to the success of the Empire Mine were William
Bourn Jr. and his mine superintendent, George Starr. The
later, Starr is credited with most of the technological
innovations that helped to make the mine so successful.
addition to the museum, visitors can walk up the path to
the Bourn Mansion. Built entirely of waste rock from
the mine, the home is beautiful example of late 1890's architecture.
Designed to resemble an English country lodge, the home
was built by Willis Polk. Surrounding the home are 13 acres
of gardens and manicured lawns, Rose gardens, and reflecting
Thanksgiving and Christmas, the grounds are decorated for
the festive season. It is recommended to call ahead
for the Guided tours and audio-visual presentations offered
throughout the day at various times by Park Rangers and
park, purchased by the state of California for over $1 million
in 1975, boasts 22 miles of hiking trails that surround
the 805 acres.
a day of adventure and beauty for everyone in the family!
Mine State Park
10791 Empire Mine St.
Grass Valley, CA
Peggy & Howard Levine
Owners of the Swan
Levine House Bed & Breakfast in Grass Valley
in the Heart of the Mother Lode
The Department of Parks & Recreation is close to realizing
the Empire Mine’s Underground Tour Project. A tunnel
will penetrate horizontally through the quartz-laced granite
intersecting the main shaft. Transported by tram, visitors
will travel along the 800 foot length, stopping from time
to time, to view dioramas depicting the progression of hardrock
mining techniques over the years. Near the intersection,
visitors will see where the quartz vein was mined, leaving
a cavernous void called a stope. Not to be missed, this
will be an incredible educational opportunity, for both
adults and children, experiencing the same smells, sights,
and sounds as early miners.
A tram will transport visitors on a tour, stopping to
Visitors can view dioramas and learn about
the changes in mining techniques over the years of the
Most of mine's tunnels are now filled with water. During
mine operations, 21.000 gallons of water per minute
were pumped to the surface.
24-person visitor group will depart the tram at this
point. Hard hats and rain slickers provided.
& Shaft Intersection
100 feet below the surface the new tunnel will connect
to the old diggings
Here, visitors will walk into a passage called a "drift"
and view a “"stope"” - a large
area where a vein of gold-infused quartz was extracted
from the granite.
At the end of the drift, a new viewing platform will
allow visitors to view the main shafts as it decends
into the depths of the old mine.
January - April 10:00 AM. - 5:00 PM.
May - August 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 PM.
September - December 10:00 AM. - 5:00 p.m.
(Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years
$3.00 for adults over 16
$1.00 for children over 5 (children under 5 are free).
Park is located on Empire Street accessed from the
exit on Historic Hwy 49.