By Kit Burton
We expect our mining tours at Pioneer Day in Smartsville on Saturday April 28, to be just as popular as ever. This is our 11th year and, despite our best efforts, we have not been able to satisfy all our visitors’ desires for a ride on a “hay” wagon pulled by an antique tractor, even with three concurrent tours running nearly all day long.
Our tour guides this year are Brian Bisnett, Chris Ward, and Chuck Scimeca, all very knowledgeable about hydraulic mining and local gold rush history. Each of them rides along on their wagon and explains the mining process and answers questions as the wagons travel through the Sucker Flat mining areas.
Brian is part owner of the Blue Point Mine, one of several adjacent hydraulic mining claims where gold was recovered from sand and gravel in the “diggings” just north of Smartsville between the town and the Yuba River. Each of these mines had its own tunnel that served as a sluice box as well as a conduit to drain mining tailings to the river.
Chris is a professional archeologist specializing in the gold rush era and has written a book on local cemeteries. In his youth he roamed the Rose Bar and Yuba River area and his knowledge of the history of Smartsville and Timbuctoo is personal and impressive.
Chuck was a California State Park Ranger and worked at the Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport. He developed natural history and cultural interpretation programs and taught history classes for docents and volunteers. His personal interest in historic transportation brings a unique perspective to life during the gold rush.
As great as our mining tours are, there is much more to do at Pioneer Day. We have live music on stage, arts and crafts vendors, activities for children, yummy food, and exhibits such as gold panning, acorn grinding and native American flute playing. Historic impersonations present life during the gold rush, and the church under restoration will be open to the public. Father Twomey (Leroy Prindle) inside the church tells tales of early Smartsville.
Admission is free and all proceeds from Pioneer Day benefit the restoration of the historic, former Catholic Church, by SCRFI our non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.
For more information call Kit Burton at (530) 701-2639 or Kathy Smith at (916) 838-2757 or visit pioneerday.info.