The weather was absolutely beautiful today and everyone was feeling fine, so off we went on an impromptu trip to the California State Mining and and Mineral Museum and the Mariposa History Museum. This was a nice follow-up to our California gold rush study. And in Conman's science this week we also talked about rocks and minerals, so it was a double-duty trip!
First stop was the Mineral Museum, where we were able to tag-along behind another school group that was receiving a guided tour through a 175 ft. replica of a mine tunnel. Visitors can through the mine tunnel on their own; however, our timing enabled us to get the narrated version.
One section of the museum houses gems and minerals that were found and donated to the museum from all over the world. Here is Conman by a large piece of Quartz crystal, which was actually found in California.
The kids were able to use a computer-type device to click on different regions and counties of California to view a list of the minerals and gems found in those areas. Then they could click on the mineral and view a picture and read about it. Conman, my electronic dude, took right to this one.
Blakester and Lulu tried their hands at identifying a variety of minerals at this large display. A chunk of the mineral was attached to a board with some information and the answer was displayed once the flap was lifted.
We were also able to view a Smilidon, other wise known as a saber-tooth, skull fossil that was found in the La Brea tar pits. Did you know this is the California state fossil? No? Neither did I.
This large piece of slate was shaped into the State of California.
In the vault we were able to view all sorts of rare and valuable gemstones, including the largest surviving original vein of gold from the gold rush-1850. It weighs in at 13 pounds. Sorry, somehow I missed a picture of this.
The other half of the museum houses information strictly on gold rush activities. On display are the miner's tools, assayer's tools, ore carts, gold samples and maps of the gold mine areas. There was also a photo of John C. Fremont, along with some information on him and a large map showing the area he claimed as his.
I'd say that's a pretty straight-forward warning.
This working replica of a stamp mill is 100 years old. It allows the kids to see how the ore was taken to the top, dumped and went through the process of breaking the gold from the rocks.
We perused the gift shop for a while and came away with a bag of candy that looked like rocks but tasted like jelly beans. Blakester picked up a pencil and some shark teeth, and Lulu chose a ring made of Dalmatian jasper.
After a quick lunch, we headed over the the Mariposa History Museum. Photos weren't allowed inside, so we checked out the mining equipment outside first. Blakester and Conman hammed it up with the cradle. It was really great that they could see these items first-hand while the story was still fresh in their mind and able to make connections.
A peek inside a Miwok hut. On the other side were large rocks with the holes in them for grinding corn.
Also outside was an actual stamp mill, ore carts, logging wagons and other various tools.
Inside the museum was filled with all sorts of interesting items.
A true-to-life general store greets you as you enter. The store fixtures and supplies came from an actual general store which closed after the owner, Miss Jenny, passed away at the age of 91.
There are examples of Miwok handiwork, barbed-wire and cattle brands, a one-room schoolhouse, a doctor's office, a miner's cabin, an old-time kitchen, Chinese mining supplies, a sheriff's office and a saloon. Old photos, quilts and letters are displayed. There is a section on John C. Fremont and one on Joaquin Murrietta. My kids were really interested in this one, since he was a bandit.
What a wonderful way to cement this time in history firmly in the kiddo's brains, while showing them some of the extremely beautiful creations from our God.
This was a very informative, relaxing and enjoyable way to spend the day. Especially since we ended it with some ice cream and visit with an old friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in quite a while!