Museum open 10 - 2 Fri, Sat, and Sun. Masks recommended.
Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society
Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum
The Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society (STCHS) is a volunteer community organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the colorful history of the area “south of the Tuolumne River.” Groveland and Big Oak Flat were 1850s Gold Rush towns which later thrived as a gateway to Yosemite National Park. The centerpiece of STCHS is the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum in Groveland welcoming visitors from all over the world, and all year long. STCHS also advances its goals by building preservation projects, community education, and the History Resource Center.
Thanks to the generosity of a friend of the Museum who wishes to remain anonymous, the Museum has the opportunity to offer a jewlery sale like no other. An amazing assortment of bracelets, rings, necklaces, and pins. At amazing prices. Valued originally from $100 to $150, everything is on sale at $20. No exceptions - everything! A special gift for that special someone for that special day for friends and loved ones.
Come one and all to the Book Nook on Saturday, February 11, from 10 - 2 p.m. This is a one-time opportunity to get an exceptional value on some beautiful jewelry gifts for yourself or others.
Proceeds benefit the Museum and its neighbor, the Tuolumne County Library in Groveland. Due to the special nature of the sale, only cash is accepted. Only $20!
On Monday, December 12, 2022, STHCS held its "Volunteer Appreciation Lunch" to celebrate the contributions of all its volunteers over the past months and years. We had to postpone this annual event for the past few years due to Covid. So we were very eager to return to this tradition of showing how much we appreciate all the efforts and dedication of those who make the Museum possible. Thank you!
About 20 volunteers and Museum Board members came together in the Book Nook space for a chance to be together and enjoy a wonderful lunch of holiday soups and cakes (many prepared by Board member Kathy Brown). In past years this event had been focused on honoring the corps of docents who welcomed visitors to the Museum. This year, due to the special demands of Covid over the past two years, we broadened our appreciation to everyone who had helped the Museum continue its work - from helping put on the barbecue to cleaning up after the wine cruise to getting us organized for our new visitor schedule.
Our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one who has given so much in a difficult time!
The Museum has recently displayed a new item in its collection in recognition of Groveland’s key role in the construction of the Hetchy Hetchy dam. A friend of the Museum, Allan R. Johnson, has generously donated a beautiful wooden door with a stained-glass representation of the Hetch Hetchy railroad (HHRR) that was a key part of the Hetch Hetchy project. Groveland was the headquarters of the entire dam-building project with numerous HHRR facilities in the town, such as the maintenance yard and workers' hospital.
Allan Johnson’s grandfather Julius was a 30-year employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad and inspired his grandson's love of trains, particularly steam trains. Allan Johnson commissioned his father Francis, who became a stained-glass artist after retirement, to depict the steam HHRR at work transporting vital supplies to the dam site. The glass was installed in a wooden door for easy viewing, and now Mr. Johnson has given the door to the Museum.
Allan Johnson says of the new exhibit: "I couldn't think of a better place to display my dad's craftsmanship than the Groveland Museum. I'm so pleased to allow visitors to view the work and learn about the history of steam trains in our area. Thanks to STCHS for bringing the display to the community.
The door can now be seen in the Museum prior to finding a more permanent position. STCHS very much appreciates the wonderful gift and urges everyone to come and see it over the holidays and beyond.
A key part of the mission of the STCHS is to promote an awareness and appreciation of the history of our area. For this reason, we were pleased to take part in a community outreach event for a multi-use trail intended for the old Hetch Hetchy railroad (HHRR) right-of way in Groveland.
On Saturday, November 12, thanks to the organizational efforts of the Groveland Community Service District (GCSD) and the Sonora-based Blue Zones Project (affiliated with Adventist Health), Groveland residents were able to learn about a proposed trail to promote better health in our area. The planned trail would follow the HHRR right-of-way that was used in the 1910 - 30s in the construction of the HH dam. The first stage of the route would connect Laveroni Park with the new Resilience Center.
STCHS was asked to provide the approximately 50 participants a brief glimpse into the history of the area. As shown the photo, STCHS 'historians" gathered the group together to give the background of the HH project, to view the locations of key buildings (now demolished) such as the hospital and the maintenance yard, as well several old mines in the area. As planned, STCHS would be involved in preparing historical information for visitors.
It is a terrific opportunity for the Museum to advance its education mission. Our thanks to GCSD, Blue Zones, and others for the chance to be part of this exciting project!
The Groveland Garden Club generously helped clean leaves and weeds that had built up near the Museum. Many thanks!
A focus of attention was the Museum's exhibit of an "arrastra," an old mining device to crush gold ore. The main beam needed repair, and leaves and branches had to be removed.
Dave Roberts, a Museum Board member, single-handedly removed the broken beam, fixed the old metal bolts, and installed the new beam. As good as new - maybe better!
On Saturday, October 29, a combined crew from the Groveland Museum and the Groveland Garden Club attacked the cumulative effects of summer and fall weather by cleaning up the grounds around the Museum. A special focus was to repair the outside exhibit of the "arrastra," the historical mine equipment used to break up gold ore. The main beam had broken. Dave Roberts of STCHS obtained a suitable replacement beam and carefully installed a new one. Other crew members cleaned up leaves, branches, and general clutter. Our heartfelt thanks to each and every one!
On Sunday, September 4, STCHS held the 13th annual edition of its traditional Labor Day Sunday barbecue at the PML Equestrian Center. Despite record-breaking heat throughout the Motherlode, more than 100 local residents and friends came out to enjoy a great afternoon of family fun and good eats.
Food available for patrons included tri-tip and hot dogs, potato and tossed salad, and (for that final cool-down) ice cream sandwiches. Beer and wine (and lots of cold water) helped keep people well hydrated in the heat. There was plenty of shade from the big oaks to keep temperatures pretty pleasant around the tables. Plus, Big Joe and his Happy Posse band provided a lot of good music.
In addition to the "main events" of BBQ and activities for the kids, visitors could also take advantage of a silent auction and a bake sale from local dessert and cookie experts.
STCHS certainly thanks everyone who braved the elements to attend. We sincerely appreciate your support for the Museum. We wouldn't be able to do our work without you!
Many visitors to southern Tuolumne County - as well as many local residents - don't know about the importance of gold mining in the history of our area. There are no old mine shafts or rusting equipment along the roadside. The area is known as the "Gateway to Yosemite" and a wonderful recreation center - and not for its mining heritage.
The truth is that the towns of Groveland and Big Oak Flat owe their existence to gold mining from the earliest days of the California Gold Rush. 175 years ago the earth and streams of our community were laden with rich deposits of gold. And venturers came from across the world to find it and build their lives here.
In its new exhibit titled "Built on Dreams of Gold," the Museum seeks to reveal the truth of our community's roots in gold mining. It tells the fascinating story of the area's growth from early gold camps as part of the "Forty Niner" era to its consolidation as a center for "hard rock mining" by the 1890s until the closure of nearly all mines in the early twentieth century.
More than 20 historical photos trace the history of area mining and depict the tens - even hundreds - of mines that once dotted the terrain from Big Oak Flat to Groveland. More than 15 historical artifacts - including a miner's helmet and a gold pan - help convey the reality of being a miner.
Come to the Museum and learn the tale of James Savage who befriended the local indigenous people and was led by them to the first gold deposits in Big Oak Flat in 1849. Or the story of Andrew Rocca, an Italian immigrant, whose siphon technology brought all-important water from the Tuolumne River to the gold camps. Or read about the environmental devastation caused by "hydraulic mining" - erosion scars that can still be seen in the area.
As the Museum re-opens, it is looking to add volunteers to greet and welcome visitors to the Museum. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the country and the world. Docents serve at their own schedule with no obligation other than to enjoy themselves. Sign up on the "Docent" page of the website.
STCHS's local history book, Groveland Big Oak Flat, is on sale in the Museum or online. For only $5 shipping, you can send the best of Tuolumne history to yourself or someone you know. With 200+ vintage photos, it's the perfect glimpse into our area's colorful history. Buy online, or send your order form by e-mail.