Nevada County Historical Society

In the News

The not-so-hidden gem: The North Star Mining Museum back open for business
The Union, May 19, 2023

Staff Writer Jennifer Nobles can be reached at

It could be said that The Northstar Mining Museum is a hidden treasure, but the fact is it’s not really all that hidden.

Sitting on the corner of Allison Ranch and McCourtney Roads in Grass Valley, the museum is part of the Nevada County Historical Society and exists in an effort to preserve and protect the deep mining heritage that runs throughout the area. The spot features a large collection of Pelton Wheels and other mining equipment from the heyday of the Gold Rush.

On May 6, The Northstar Mining Museum celebrated its season grand reopening, commemorating the beginning of another open season for the museum which originally opened its doors to visitors in 1971. The exhibit is open yearly from May 1 to October 31.

Of the recent reopening celebration, the museum’s director Jeffrey Boylan said: “They tried to rain us out, but we said no. It was incredibly rainy that day so we pretty much got rained out but did get some interesting people and that made it worthwhile.

“We have a great docent crew of about 15 guys and we are rarely in the same room. It was nice to trade stories. I thought it was good, and this is fourth grade field trip time with the curriculum being California history, so we have four big tours lined up for May.”

Boylan said he hears frequently from people who live or have lived in the area who are still surprised to discover the mining museum is even there. The actual building itself has been through its own series of events including its closure in 1956 and a fire that burned a good portion of the roof. Before that, the artifacts had a home on Mill Street in another variation of the museum before relocating to its current home.

“The Historical Society meets every third Thursday but it was a nice gal volunteering her time and she said, ’I didn’t even know we had a mining museum,’” Boylan said. “We do have slow times during the week. It takes a curious person.”

As director of the museum as well as a history buff, Boylan said that the items contained within the space are meant to be educational, and to remind guests of the extensive history of mining in Nevada County.

“(It’s) just to honor the history that built the community,” he said of the museum. “Most people would find it fascinating that it was the number one producer in California in that 100 years of the gold rush. And it’s beautiful. The creek runs right by it. There are many reasons to check it out. It’s a good time capsule. Some people just aren’t aware of it.”

The Northstar Mining Museum is at 933 Allison Ranch Road in Grass Valley. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information please visit or call 530-273-4255.