OCOTILLO — In school students learned about the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, but many may be surprised to learn that the Imperial Valley has a rich history of gold mining as well.
At one point there were 130 mines in the Imperial County, said Neil V. Hitch, director of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum in Ocotillo.
“Gold Fever! The Untold Stories of the California Gold Rush” brings that history to the Imperial Valley. The exhibit was organized in partnership with Cal Humanities.
Imperial Valley Desert Museum will host the exhibit until the end of July, said Hitch.
“Gold Fever” is the first traveling exhibit for the museum, said Hitch.
The museum held the exhibit’s grand opening Saturday.
Hitch said observers will see many artifacts that the working museum has excavated themselves as part of the exhibit.
“We were finding local artifacts that made this exhibit a perfect match for the museum,” said Hitch. “We matched the history that many know about gold mining and the gold rush with local stuff.”
Many of the artifacts (some on loan from the Bureau of Land Management) on exhibit are from the 1860s in Imperial County, said Anne Morgan, archivist at Imperial Valley Desert Museum.
George Willis, from Ocotillo, said he was not aware that there were so many gold mines in the Imperial Valley.
“The museum is a wonderful institution,” said Willis. “The exhibit has opened my eyes to so many interesting facts I hadn’t realized about Imperial County.”
Jessi Preciado from Holtville heard about the exhibit from a teacher at Southwest High School in El Centro.
Preciado looked at the artifacts and the miner’s cabin that was created for the exhibit.
People can go inside the cabin and view the tools a miner would have used. Children can even try on clothes a miner would typically wear, said Hitch.
“The miner’s cabin is an interesting touch,” said Preciado. “I encourage people to come and check it out.”
To learn more about the exhibit go to www.ivdesertmuseum.org or Facebook.com/IVDMuseum
Staff Writer Alexis Rangel can be reached at 760-337-3440 or email@example.com