Gold Mining Camp Museum

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14421 Gold Dust Parkway, Goldvein, VA, USA

Gold Mining Camp Museum Goldvein Reviews

Zagnut66 Zagnut66
112 reviews
Gold Mining Camp Museum at Monroe Park Jul 31, 2015
Scattered throughout central Virginia are the overgrown remains of abandoned gold mines where prospectors once hoped to strike it rich in the days before lottery jackpots. From the early 1800s until the last commercial mine closed in 1947, mining operations extracted the precious metal with varying degrees of success. There was never anything like the California Gold Rush but enough stuff in the ground to keep dreams alive. This small museum complex in the appropriately named town of Goldvein partially recreates a mining camp. There are plans to add new buildings and collect more vintage equipment, but the curators manage to tell an interesting story with their limited resources at present.

Basically there are three rather plain looking buildings that represent a bunk hall where the miners slept, a mess hall where they ate, and an assayer’s office where they had their haul examined for purity. Each building has extensive displays and artifacts on life in camp and the ways in which the gold was mined and evaluated. On the exterior grounds sit some old equipment. Most intriguing are a pair of hornet balls, what look like giant alien pods or crude cement mixers in which chunks of ore where put inside to be broken down into fragments by the movement of the balls. Archaeologists still haven’t figured out whether the hornet balls were moved by teams of horses or by steam engines.

I spent more time poking around here than anticipated. This is a forgotten chapter in the illustrious history of Virginia, something most people associate with the western United States rather than the east coast. The buildings are open Wednesday through Sunday and are free of charge. Each afternoon at 2 o’clock a park ranger demonstrates panning for gold using a set of tubs with sand from a nearby stream. The museum sits within a larger park with a playground and some athletic fields if you get a sudden urge to ride a swing or play football. The Gold Mining Camp Museum sits about halfway between Fredericksburg and Warrenton on the scenic Route 17. I don’t know if it’s worth driving out to see this by itself, but if you’re visiting one of the many wineries in the area then by all means stop by for the history lesson.
Hornet balls
The eastern gold belt
Looking for gold
Mine carts
17 / 17 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
yuness says:
Congratz On your featured Bill :)
Posted on: Aug 08, 2015
rsvpme says:
Feature congrats....
Posted on: Aug 06, 2015
HelenP says:
Bill, just logged in and saw you were front page. Well done! Will have a read.
Posted on: Aug 06, 2015
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