california gold country coloma gold bug mine placerville

The town started as a mining camp named "Old Dry Diggings." In 1849, it was called "Hangtown," since "necktie-parties" were the order of the day. Five years later, things had calmed down a bit and it was renamed "Placerville," associating the town with mining, rather than hanging.

Hangtown's Gold Bug Park - The Gold Bug Mine is a hard rock gold mine, where miners whacked the gold ore out of the rock, digging miles of tunnels deep under ground. Put on a hard hat (hard hats come in kid's sizes) and walk through the timbered mine entrance down into the mine tunnel. On a self-paced audio tour, listen to a colorful story of the Gold Rush. The tunnel is level, easy walking, fine for small kids and cool inside on a hot day. The Hattie Museum (the mine was once called "Hattie") has minerals on display. If you have a yen to follow in the miner's footsteps, pan for gold in the sluices outside.
Walk up the hill to visit the Joshua Hendy Stamp Mill where the rock from the mine was crushed and the ore extracted. It was big noisy operation, those pistons chugging up and down up and down all the time. Now the pistons are silent, but there's a working scale model (ask to see it turned on).
Bring a picnic to sit out under the oak trees or stroll around the golden hillsides on trails. The trail loops are less than a mile.
Placerville City Park (Benham St.) - On a hot day, head over the Placerville Aquatic Center - large swimming pool with water slides, children's pool and water play area. Open June through August, public swim every afternoon Sun. - Fri. and 11 - 3 on Sat. There's also picnic tables and a playground at the park.
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