El Dorado County Historical Museum Celebrates past with Open House
09/23/2015 04:59PM ● Published by David Norby
El Dorado County’s rich and colorful past comes to life on Oct. 18 as the El Dorado County Historical Museum hosts the public at a free open house from noon to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 104 Placerville Dr., next to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville.
Visitors will be treated to a variety of fun and educational activities, including a treasure hunt, raffle, refreshments and guided tours of special exhibits that include “Those Who Served” (military uniforms donated to the museum covering the period 1910–1963) and vintage fashions of the 1920s and 1930s. Learn from experts how to research your own past with “Genealogy Tips and Tricks” in the museum’s extensive Research Room.
“The museum has been open more than 40 years and we wanted to celebrate with a special invitation to residents and visitors who may be unfamiliar with all we have to offer,” said Museum Administrator Mary Cory. With its many exhibits and knowledgeable docents and other volunteers, the museum is truly a “hidden gem” among things to do and see in El Dorado County. “All of the wonderful artifacts we have at the museum were donated by people who cared deeply about the history of El Dorado County,” she added.
One of the rarest items on display here is an original Studebaker wheelbarrow, which is shown in context with gold mining equipment such as vintage pans and other tools. John Studebaker—who went on to automotive fame—got his start manufacturing wheelbarrows for Gold Rush miners in his Placerville shop in the 1850s. His wheelbarrow today provides inspiration for the museum’s logo. Nearby is a collection of baskets and tools made by skilled Maidu, Miwok and Washoe artisans, the region’s first residents.
The museum also exhibits skis used by “Snowshoe Thompson,” considered the father of California skiing, to cross the Sierra to deliver mail between 1856 and 1876, as well as original horse-drawn carriages, wagons and other vehicles. Dioramas that include a fine parlor and a general store circa 1900 offer a glimpse into a slower-paced time. The museum grounds feature historic relics of the Gold Rush and early-day farming and logging. The museum shop offers a wide selection of books and other materials covering local history as well as postcards, logo items and other gifts.
The El Dorado County Historical Museum opened its doors to the public in 1974. It receives support from the County of El Dorado and is part of the El Dorado County Library Department. A seven member Historical Museum Commission, appointed by the Board of Supervisors, provides collections and operations oversight and recommendations to staff.