All aboard for Placer County’s Heritage Trail tour

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The doors at 18 museums around Placer County are set to creak open and welcome big crowds Aug. 7 and 8 for the third annual Heritage Trail tour. The doors will be opening wide for a cross-county tour that Museums Administrator Melanie Barton described as an opportunity for all ages – especially families – to enjoy the magic of the museum experience. “It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a great way to better understand Placer County’s rich and colorful history,” Barton said. The Heritage Trail tour, which Barton estimates attracted 5,000 people last August, features 19 museum stops from Roseville to North Lake Tahoe. Visitors can try many hands-on activities, including panning for gold, baking biscuits in an 1890s wood stove, climbing aboard an authentic stagecoach, and racing to the finish line in an old-fashioned gunny sack. Many of the museums will also offer historically appropriate food and beverages, including Indian flat bread, hand-churned ice cream, root beer floats and lemonade. Jason Adair, who served root beer floats last year, said the variety of old-time snacks are a big draw. “It seemed like I was the most popular person in the county,” Adair said. This year, he’ll be setting up to give children gambling lessons. “I’ll show them just how bad the odds were for miners during the Gold Rush days,” he said. With 18 museums to choose from and each offering activities, Barton said what tour participants will like depends on how much time they have. If it’s a half-day, Auburn would be a major draw, with six museums within a mile of one another, she said. “If you want to be courageous and travel farther, there are several wonderful museums along the way to Tahoe and the weather should be excellent for the drive,” Barton said. “If you’re interested in valley history, the museums in South Placer are going to prove attractive.” All the museums are easy to reach from Interstate 80, with five valley museums and eight mountain museums, in North Lake Tahoe, Dutch Flat, Colfax and the Donner Lake areas. Special low-cost bus tours will be available both days. But reservations are required and seating is limited. Barton said people should make their reservations early to avoid disappointment. Tom Potts, a member of the Auburn Native Sons of the Golden West parlor, said he may be biased but he’s sure people will enjoy the new Native Sons exhibit now at the Placer County Museum inside Auburn’s courthouse. The Forest Hill Divide Museum represents a worthwhile journey of 17 miles from Auburn, he said. And Auburn’s Bernhard Museum, with its display of historic rolling stock is also a must-visit, he said. “Placer County has some great ones,” Potts said. “Visiting each one is worthwhile in some way.” ----------------------------------------------------- Heritage Trail What: Annual Placer County museums tour When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8 Admission: Free More information: or The official trail guide of museums is posted online and copies will be available at museums.