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Mariposa Museums & Culture

California State Mining & Mineral Museum

The California State Mining & Mineral Museum houses a collection started in 1865 in San Francisco. It is the official California State Mining & Mineral Collection with over 13,000 minerals, rocks, gems, fossils and historic artifacts.

The star of this collection is the Fricot Nugget, a crystallized gold specimen weighing 201 troy ounces, or about 13 pounds. Discovered by William Russell Davis in 1865, it is one of the finest and largest specimens of crystallized native gold in the world, and thought to be the largest nugget found during the Gold Rush era.

The museum is located on Highway 49 South inside the Mariposa County Fairgrounds at 5005 Fairgrounds Rd. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Bus and group tours are available. For more information, visit www.camineralmuseum.com.

Northern Mariposa County History Center

The Northern Mariposa County History Center, often referred to as the Coulterville Museum, offers visitors a glimpse of the life and times of early California, from the early 1800s through the boom days of the 1849 Gold Rush and the post Gold Rush era of the late 1800s and early 20th century. A large and varied collection of artifacts and photographs tell the story of the area.

The history center boasts an excellent collections of clothing and accessories of past eras, such as exquisite gowns from Worth’s in Paris, vintage wedding and engagement gowns and short beaded flapper dresses. The collection’s beautifully embroidered kimonos and wall hangings represent Coulterville’s Chinese influence, which dates back to 1850.

It is housed in two historic rock buildings at 10301 Highway 49 Coulterville. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. For more information, visit coultervillehistorycenter.org.

Mariposa Museum and History Center

The Mariposa Museum and History Center was named “the best little museum of its size west of the Mississippi” by the Smithsonian Institution. Founded in 1957, the museum portrays life in Mariposa County from the Native American and Spanish periods to the California Gold Rush through the early 1900s. Exhibits include documents and artifacts, gold displays, artwork, photos and Native American baskets, implements and beadwork.

The museum’s outdoor display features the only operational 5-stamp gold ore mill in California, a fully functional blacksmith shop and broom-making shop, as well as other pieces of mining equipment.

Inside exhibits include an extensive Miwok Indian display, an interior view of a miner’s cabin, an authentic saloon, a one-room schoolhouse, and furnishings belonging to former Mariposa County resident and famous explorer John C. Fremont and his wife.

The museum is located at 5119 Jessie St. Prearranged guided tours are available for large groups and bus tours. For more information, visit mariposamuseum.com or call (209) 966-2924.

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra is a 50-member regional symphony orchestra serving the Mariposa area. Mariposa is considered to be the smallest town in all America with its own symphony orchestra.

Celebrating its 14th season in 2016, the MSO has become incredibly refined, exciting, sensitive and exhilarating, and has built a large following, drawing audience members from Mariposa County, as well as other counties, states and countries.

The MSO recently received a $33,341 California Arts Council grant for its “American Anniversaries” project, a large-scale cycle of four symphonies composed by Les Marsden, the orchestra’s founding music director and conductor. The symphonies pay tribute to the anniversaries of the Wilderness Act, Yosemite Grant Act, Yosemite National Park and National Park Service.

A program of the Mariposa County Arts Council Inc., the orchestra performs four times a year. Tickets are available at the Mariposa County Arts Council Treetop Gallery on the top floor of Chocolate Soup Gift Shop, 5009 Hwy. 140, and the Mariposa County Visitors Center, 5158 Hwy. 140 or by calling (209) 966-3155.

For more information on the MSO, visit www.mariposaartscouncil.org/mariposa-symphony-orchestra. Email mso@sti.net to be added to its private, exclusive “Friends of the MSO” e-list.

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