Heritage Trail Museums Tour offers summer of free museums in Placer County

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Heritage Trail schedule

June 16  

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Bernhard Museum, 291 Auburn Folsom Road, Auburn

Make a mini fruit crate and rag dolls. Do laundry the old-fashioned way. Dress up in 19th century style and take advantage of multiple photo opportunities. Plus watermelon and hand-cranked ice cream.


Benton Welty School Room, 1225 Lincoln Way, Auburn

Get a rare sense of old school days in a classroom packed with photos, scrapbooks, maps and old school books. Try your hand at string games and penmanship. School songs of yesteryear with Clifford Johnson at 1 p.m.


Gold Rush Museum, 601 Lincoln Way, Auburn

Pan for gold view a replica mining tunnel, Gold Rush-era artifacts and play an interactive Gold Rush game. 11 a.m. plaque dedication to May Perry, first Placer County Museum Curator.


June 23

8 a.m. - noon

Griffith Quarry Museum, corner of Taylor and Rock Springs Roads, Penryn

View exhibits on granite quarrying. Hands-on exhibits and a guided tour of the Quarry Park at 8:30 am.


10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road., Rocklin

View exhibits on Rocklin pioneers, buildings and granite quarrying plus photographs and interpretation of J.P. Whitney and his land holdings. Granite splitting demonstration at 11 a.m.


June 30

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Gatekeepers Museum, 130 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

View the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Collection and exhibits on Tahoe history; special exhibit on the 1960 Winter Olympics; and special activity outside.


Watson Cabin

560 North Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

Built in 1909, the Watson Cabin is the oldest building constructed onsite in Tahoe City and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  


July 7

8 a.m. - noon

Fruitvale School, 3425 Fruitvale Road, Lincoln

Witness the education that farm children received 100 years ago in a one-room schoolhouse.


10 a.m. - noon

Sierra College Natural History Museum, 5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin

Enjoy exhibits on contemporary nature as well as fossils of life that lived millions of years ago. Special program on sharks.


July 14  

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Placer County Museum (Historic Courthouse)

101 Maple St., Auburn

Overview of Placer County history, Pate Collection of American Indian Artifacts, gold collection, restored sheriff’s office, women’s jail with Alma Bell.


Gold Country Medical History Museum

219 Maple St., Auburn

Restored Victorian building is on the site of the original Placer County hospital. See medical, dental and nursing implements, equipment, furnishings, pharmaceuticals, ephemera, and a collection of “quackery.”


The Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center

200 Sacramento St., Auburn

Built in the early 1920s by Charles Yue, leader of local Tong association and community steward for the Auburn Chinese population, the “Joss House” began as a boarding house but was soon converted to the Ling Ying Association (Brave Heroes) meeting place. Here the (c.1880) original altar was transferred from a previous joss house and placed into service.


July 21

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The Wheatland History Museum, 111 Main St. Wheatland

The primary purpose of the Wheatland Historical Society is to discover, collect, preserve and disseminate knowledge concerning the history of the Wheatland area.


10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Lincoln Area Archives Museum, 640 Fifth St., Lincoln

View Nisenan artifacts, Gladding McBean & Co. photographs, a gold scale from the Van Trent Mine, military uniforms and artifacts and Chinese baskets.  Beverages and cookies available.


July 28  

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Colfax Area Heritage Museum, 99 Railroad St., Colfax

Experience exhibits on the history of the railroad, gold mining, pioneer life, as well as collections of Maidu Indian and Chinese artifacts. Drinks and snacks will be available.  


Golden Drift Museum, 32820 Main St., Dutch Flat

View exhibits on nearby towns, hydraulic mining, the railroad, the Towle Lumber Company, the Maidu Indians, and the Chinese. Guided walking tour of Dutch Flat at 10 a.m. followed by Cemetery Tour at 11:30 a.m.


Donner Summit Historical Society Museum, 21501 Donner Pass Road, Soda Springs

Donner Summit is the richest historical area in California: first wagon trains, first transcontinental railroad, highway, telephone line, and air route. Lincoln Highway and Historic Highway 40 talk by Norm Saylor at 1:30 pm.


Aug. 4  

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Maidu Museum & Historic Site, 1970 Johnson Ranch Drive, Roseville

Explore site where Valley Nisenan Maidu Indians lived for thousands of years. Guided tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Roseville Telephone Museum, 106 Vernon St., Roseville

The exhibits in the 4,500 square-foot museum chronicle and celebrate more than a century of communications technology in Roseville as well as nationally and internationally.


Roseville Historical Society Carnegie Museum

557 Lincoln St., Roseville

The Roseville Historical Society's Carnegie Museum and Archives is filled with artifacts and ephemera of Roseville's past.


Aug. 11 and 12  

9:30 a.m.

Donner Summit Hike.

Tour mostly on the north side of Old Highway 40, Donner Pass Road.


Aug. 31

4  – 7 p.m.

DeWitt History Museum, 2985 Richardson Dr., Auburn

View exhibits on the history of the DeWitt Government Center from its inception as a World War II Army hospital, its use as a state mental hospital and finally its use as a Placer County Government Center. Special van tours of the historic campus every half hour from 4 - 5:30 p.m.


Sept. 1 and 2

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Forest Hill Divide Museum, 24601 Harrison St., Foresthill

Watch blacksmiths craft period tools, view exhibits on mining, Native American Heritage, the lumber industry, fires and firefighting and life in the Victorian era.  Hands-on activities for kids, craft and food booths, gold panning demonstrations, and visitors can watch the State Gold Panning championships. Visitors can also enjoy the re-enactments of the Georgetown Regulators.


Museums throughout Placer County will offer free admission on select Saturdays all summer as the Heritage Trail Museums Tour returns for its 11th year.

A total of 22 museums will be participating from Roseville to North Lake Tahoe, including Placer’s new DeWitt History Museum in North Auburn. Free museum days are grouped geographically to allow easy trekking between museums in a day.

“Placer County museums are all about experiential storytelling at its best,” said Ralph Gibson, Placer County Museums administrator. “The Heritage Trail offers an excellent opportunity to learn about our rich, fascinating history while exploring our valley, foothills and mountain areas and getting to know the community members who live there.”

The Heritage Trail kicks off June 16 at the Bernhard and Gold Rush museums and the historic Benton Welty School Room in Auburn, and ends Sept. 3 with a free weekend at the Forest Hill Divide Museum in Foresthill.

Fun, family-friendly activities are spread throughout the free weekends, including live music, historical reenactments and much more. Trail visitors are also encouraged to pick up a Get Up and Go card at any participating museum. Those who fill the card with stamps from at least eight of the participating museums will be eligible for a gift basket drawing.

Returning this year is the Placer County student scavenger hunt. Students who will be entering first grade through 12th grade in a Placer County school (or who are homeschooled in the county) in the fall of 2018 can enter to win prizes, including a Samsung Galaxy tablet or a Kindle Fire.