The major historical and geological attraction in Placerville's Gold Bug Park is the Gold Bug Mine, established as the Hattie in 1888 by John Dench and William Craddock. This mine is typical of neighborhood hard rock mines in the Mother Lode, but is the only one in California that is municipally-owned and open to the public. Gold Bug Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as a registered State Point of Historic Interest.
Inside Gold Bug Mine
A lighted wooden walkway has been installed in the 352-foot drift for the safety of visitors. Flashlights, hard hats, and cassette players with earphones are available. Interesting features in the mine are highlighted with special lighting. With your flashlight you can take a close look at the ceiling just inches overhead to see small crystals and stalactites forming in some areas. The mine is a cool and damp 52-57 degrees, a great place to cool off in summer (but bring a sweater just in case).
Gold Bug Mine is not the only mine in the Park. There are several others, such as the Silver Pine Mine, one of the biggest. There are also numerous other diggins within the Park's 61.5 acres that have been described as mines, exploratory mines, or coyote holes.
The Priest Mine, dating back to 1849, can be toured by special arrangement. It has a dirt floor and isn't lighted, so flashlights, hard hats, and a tour guide are required. Other mines in the Park are closed.
A small working
stamp mill replica
A short distance from Gold Bug Mine stands the Joshua Hendy Stamp Mill, where miners pulverized and processed the gold ore from the mines in the area. The eight stamps on the mill, weighing a reported 2,500 pounds each, could be heard on Main Street when they were crushing ore. In addition to the 20-foot stamp mill, there is a 5-foot working model built by a local student. It is demonstrated by a volunteer who explains the gold ore processing method. Rock and mineral collections are on display, and various artifacts can be seen on the grounds. Several trailheads are provided near the stamp mill.
The stream that flows through the Park is Big Canyon Creek, which empties into the American River. The first to work this creek in Gold Bug Park were Chileans from South America. There were four mining claims here, and in the 1860's hard rock mining became popular.
Near Gold Bug Mine the Big Canyon Creek is dammed, forming a small pond. Picnic tables, restrooms, and adequate parking are provided. Be sure to visit the Hattie Gift Shop and the Hattie Museum.
Gold Bug Park & Mine
2635 Gold Bug Lane, Placerville
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For times, tours, and fees:
(530) 642-5207 or see their website
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