Gold Nugget Museum
502 Pearson Rd
Paradise, CA 95969
UPDATE: Our hearts go out to those effected by the Camp Fire of 2018. The Gold Nugget Museum is one of many treasured locations lost in this devastating fire. Fortunately, its sister, the Depot Museum not only survived but is now the base of operations for the Gold Nugget Museum. Support local history by visiting the Depot Museum at 5570 Black Olive Dr, Paradise, CA 95969 or donating to the museum’s GoFundMe campaign.
The Gold Nugget Museum in downtown Paradise, California preserves and protects the rich mining history of the Ridge. The museum is named after a 54-pound gold nugget discovered in 1859. The “Dogtown Nugget” or “Magalia Nugget” was found a few miles outside of Paradise, in historic Dogtown. The nugget drew a stampede of miners who first settled the region and whose triumphs and challenges are commemorated in the Gold Nugget Museum.
History of the Ridge
In April 1859, a 54-pound nugget is discovered on Sawmill Peak along the West Branch of the Feather River near Dogtown* (present day Magalia). The “Dogtown Nugget” is the largest gold nugget found to that date and such a remarkable discovery quickly draws in ambitious miners. By 1877, Paradise is a thriving town with it’s first post office. Unlike nearby Shasta, California, Paradise remains an active town, home to it’s own community museum.
Visiting the Gold Nugget Museum
The Gold Nugget Museum is incorporated in 1973. Since then, the museum preserves and protects the Ridge heritage. The museum is supported and run by a passionate community of volunteers. The collection includes mining artifacts, a model mine, print shop, blacksmith shop, flume, gold sluices, a miner’s cabin, and schoolhouse. While the famous “Dogtown Nugget” that inspired this museums name was melted down in Oroville not long after its discovery, casts of the nugget remain, including one on display at the Gold Nugget Museum
Along with preserving and interpreting artifacts from the Ridge’s mining history, the museum hosts living history days and other community events. Since 1959, the discovery of the “Dogtown Nugget” has been commemorated by the “Gold Nugget Days” a festival featuring floats, “Miss Gold Nugget Pageant,” and a “Donkey Derby.”
*As an amusing aside: Dogtown gained its name from Mrs. Bassett’s litter. Bassett arrived in the area with two female dogs and one male. While she attempted to make her way as a miner, she found greater success selling her dogs’ puppies to lonely miners.