Personal Documentary | Mother's Day 2017

Empire Mine State Park, Cottage
Empire Mine State Park, Cottage

A Day in Grass Valley

My family and I visited the Empire Mine State Park yesterday. There are very few times during the year that I can take photos of my family and not feel like a total nuisance. Mother's Day Weekend is one of those times. I love this park, and come here when I have some free time to myself. A variety of trees, flowers, and vintage rose bushes are scattered around the landscaped grounds and the Formal Gardens. This makes spring the perfect time to visit.

At the bottom-most level of the Formal Gardens, there is a pond filled with fish and lily pads. There are also lots of trails that I hoped my kids would follow. I figured that there would enough things to interest them and I could just follow and take some candid shots of them. 

As candid as it gets, I guess

I told myself at the beginning of the day that I would not ask anyone to smile for me. My attempts to take natural looking shots were a major fail. I only managed to capture a handful of shots because my kids are onto me...they have been for a few years now. In any case, this is my family documentary at the Empire Mine State Park, 2017

A Brief History

The Empire Mine State Park is located in Grass Valley and is the site of one of the most profitable Gold Mines in California's history. When it closed in 1956, it had produced over 5.6 million ounces of gold.

It started becoming profitable when William Bourn Sr. acquired control of the company from 1869 to 1874. His son, William Bourn, Jr., took over the mine's management in 1879. Bourn, Jr.'s cousin, George Starr is given credit for much of the mine's early success. Considered by many to be a mining genius, he worked his way up as a mucker in 1881 to superintendent in 1887. In 1928, Bourn sold the mine to Newmont Mining Corp. By the mid 1950s, gold mining proved to be unprofitable and the last water pumps were finally shut and removed in 1957. The California State Parks purchased it in 1974 and it is now a place where visitors can learn about one of the richest and longest operating gold mines in California. Many of the original buildings are maintained, including the Empire Cottage, the Clubhouse, the office buildings. 

Wandering around the grounds, I like to imagine what it must have been like living there at the height of its gold mining glory. You can view one of the shafts that moved the rock, as well as the Hoist House, where men were raised from the various mine levels. A few of the buildings still hold the machinery that was used back then. 

There are posters everywhere showing the condition of the mines, the men that labored there, and some of the mules that were used in the mines to pull the carts. What a life... 

It's easy to think that gold mining is exciting and adventurous. In truth, I see that the first people who found gold were just lucky; most everyone who came after them never got the amount of success that they thought they would when they decided to chase the gold. 

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By the pond at the foot of the Formal Gardens
By the pond at the foot of the Formal Gardens
The Courtyard in front of the Formal Gardens
The Courtyard in front of the Formal Gardens
When your dad notice something funny...and your mom's a photographer
When your dad notice something funny...and your mom's a photographer
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