Take in the beauty and history of Empire Mine State Park with guided tours

Empire Mine’s 2018 Spring and Summer Tour Season starts soon, offering visitors an in-depth look at Empire Mine’s beauty, mechanics and prosperity.  With Garden Tours, Living History Tours of Empire Cottage and the Clubhouse – plus extended access to the Mine Yard – Empire’s legacy becomes that much more fascinating.


Available Daily:

© 2012 California State Parks. Photo by Brian Baer

Public Tours of the Estate and Mine Yard are presented Monday through Friday, starting May 1.   Visitors are offered Estate Tours at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.; with Mine Yard Tours at noon and 2:00 p.m.  On weekends, Mine Yard Tours are scheduled at noon and 1:00 p.m. through September 3.  The Estate Tour includes both Empire Cottage and the Clubhouse, and focuses on the Bourns, the Starrs, and their impact on Northern California’s history.   The Mine Yard Tour highlights the story of hard rock mining, as well as the underground work that began the process of turning ore into gold bars.  Each tour takes  around 50 minutes.

The busy Blacksmith Shop, with working blacksmiths, is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Please note:  The Blacksmith Shop closes early when the outside temperature reaches 90 degrees.


Popular guided Garden Tours take place every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 a.m. starting Saturday, April 14 until Sunday, September 30.   These same stately gardens delighted the Bourn Family, the mine’s prosperous owners in the early 1900s, as well as their influential guests.  Visitors will learn about the history and heritage, plus the care that goes into maintaining them.  Please note:  No Garden Tours on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13) or on Miners Picnic (Saturday, August 25).  There is no extra charge, and each tour runs approximately 50 minutes.

Empire Cottage Living History Tours are offered each Saturday and Sunday, starting Saturday, May 5 until Sunday,

Photo by Richard Bannister

September 2, from noon to 2:20 p.m.  They start every 20 minutes and last for an hour.  For those 17 and over, there is an additional $2 charge (no extra charge for children under 17).  Docents in lavish, Edwardian-style attire bring history to life, as they portray the characters who colored the past with gold and prosperity.  Mr. and Mrs. William Bourn, Jr., George and Libby Starr, and outspoken housekeeper Katie Moriarty will answer questions and share their insights about Empire’s glory days.  Please note:  No Living History Tours on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13) or on Miners Picnic (Saturday, August 25).

Clubhouse History Tours begin each Saturday and Sunday from May 5 to September 2 at no extra charge.  Short, approximately 10-minute tours are available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Docents in early 1900s’ costumes guide you through this grand-and-gracious building.  Originally a gentlemen’s club, here’s where Mr. Bourn and Mr. Starr entertained mining owners and managers from around the world.  Please note:  No Clubhouse Tours on July 14 and 15, or on Saturday, August 25.  Tours are  subject to volunteer availability,

Mine Yard Living History occurs on special days when visitors have access to buildings not typically open to the public, at no extra charge. The Hoist House, the Compressor House, Wood Shop, Refinery, and the Mine Manager’s Office will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13), Saturday, June 9, on Miners Picnic (Saturday, August 25), Saturday, September 22, as well as Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24 (both days of Holidays at Empire Mine).

Empire Mine State Historic Park welcomes around 100,000 visitors each year from all over America and all over the world.  Park hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day).  Admission is $7 for ages 17 and over; $3 for ages 6-16; and admission is free for children under 6.  Parking is free, and well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome.  For further information, phone the Visitor Center on (530) 273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org  Empire Mine State Historic Park is located at 10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley.

Content submitted by Courtney Ferguson