Explore local museums for free

Heritage Trail Museum Tour this weekend
By: Staff Report
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Explore Placer County's vibrant, challenging and colorful history Aug. 6 and 7 when 18 local museums offer free admission as part of the fourth annual Heritage Trail Museum Tour. Artifacts in the museums, which stretch from historic Roseville and Rocklin through Penryn, Auburn, Foresthill, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Boreal Mountain Resort, Donner Summit and North Lake Tahoe, tell stories of hardship, courage and triumph. Home to a thriving Native American culture, Placer County also played a major role in the California Gold Rush, the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad through the high Sierra and later, planting orchards which provided high quality fruit to the East Coast. "Heritage Trail is an adventure that celebrates this region's remarkable past and its role today," said Melanie Barton, Placer County Museum administrator. "It is an outstanding opportunity to bring local history to life for your family." Griffith Quarry Museum, located at the corner of Taylor and Rock Springs Road in Penryn, highlights the early history of the granite industry in Placer County and a 1908-era horse-drawn wagon. The 23-acre park wanders around the ruins of the first polishing mill built in California and some of the quarry holes from which the unique Penryn granite was taken. There is a self-guided tour of the nearby main granite quarry and several trails to enjoy. Other museums in Placer County offer different views of history. Visitors to the Placer County Museum, in Auburn, can see the dingy granite quarters where women in jail spent cold nights, and speak with "Alma Bell", a historical figure, who was incarcerated for killing her boyfriend 100 years ago. The historic sheriff's office is also open. Both are located in the century-old Placer County Courthouse, a visible landmark from Interstate 80. Guests at the Western Ski Sport Museum, at Boreal Ridge, can see the wooden skis dating from 1853 when gold miners on 14-foot "longboards" raced at 80 miles per hour down perilous slopes for sport, as well as photos and memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley. Other museums on the Heritage Trail are the Maidu Museum and Historic Site, Roseville Historical Society Carnegie Museum, and Roseville Telephone Museum in Roseville; Rocklin History Museum; Gold Country Medical History Museum, Auburn Joss House Chinese Museum, Bernhard Museum, Gold Country Museum and The Benton Welty Schoolroom in Auburn; Forest Hill Divide Museum in Foresthill; Colfax Area Heritage Museum; Golden Drift Museum in Dutch Flat; and Donner Summit Historical Society Museum, Gatekeeper’s Museum and Watson Cabin in North Lake Tahoe. Admission is free in all locations although donations are accepted and appreciated. Some museums are county or city museums, others are managed by non-profit organizations. Some museums may have special activities, such as fruit crate building, for which a donation is requested. For more information, call 530-889-6500, or go to