Scavenger Hunt

The Scavenger Hunt School Program is designed for fourth grade classes and provides students with access to the history of North Bloomfield and the legacy of Hydraulic Gold Mining.  There are six historic museums available for classes to explore – the Ostrom Livery Stable, Kings Saloon, Smith-Knotwell Drug Store, Skidmore House, McKillican & Mobley General Store, and the Cummins Hall Visitor Center.

The park is open for school programs from late April through early June and from September 15th through November 15th.  Programs are scheduled in two hour blocks at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm Monday through Friday.  To schedule a school program, please call (530) 265-8125.

Blacksmith Shop Pic

The Program

The scavenger hunt can accommodate up to 40 students within two hours.  Organize your students into groups of 5-8 students per group, with a clipboard and one scavenger hunt packet for each group to complete together.  You will need 10-15 adult chaperones to successfully facilitate the scavenger hunt.

One adult is stationed at each building to provide security and supervision. The students spend between 10-15 minutes in each building.  The teacher should oversee the activity and time the rotations.  

Students may explore the park museums without careful supervision from park staff.  Most exhibits are out in the open and not behind glass.  Many of the artifacts are fragile and impossible to replace.  The mere act of touching an object transfers body oils that will deteriorate a surface over time.  Touching objects or engaging in horseplay may lead to an irreversible accident.  Please impress upon your adult chaperones to take their jobs very seriously.

When you arrive and have gathered your entire group together, please advise park staff at the visitor center.  A staff member will provide you with a 10-15 minute orientation, a brief history of the park, and review guidelines for exploring the museums before we open them up.

The 11-page manual includes the Scavenger Hunt program description and forms for students. 

Click here for manual and forms 

We recommend that you accomplish the following prior to your park visit:

  • Familiarize your students and parents with hydraulic gold mining history before they arrive.
  • Designate teams of five to eight students.  Each team will be chaperoned by an adult. 
  • Bring your own copies of the scavenger hunt packet to distribute to your student groups and parents.  Most teachers distribute one packet for each team.



1)     Have each student receive a letter delivered by stagecoach to North Bloomfield (the stage will have come and gone.)  Each parent has the homework assignment of writing a letter to their son or daughter as if the kids went west for the gold rush and the parents stayed behind.  Have the parents use their imaginations.  Some parents make up hilarious stories about life back home, and even change their handwriting, use quill pens on parchment, burn edges of the paper, or make the envelope look as if it has been riding for months in a pony express bag.  It is important that every student receive a letter.  No one wants to be left out! 

2)    The saloon is available for drinks, snacks and cards.  (Cards and poker chips are in the saloon.)  The students can be taught the simple rules of Blackjack or “21”.  Please supply your own refreshments.  Many teachers use root beer, ginger ale, juice, pretzels, popcorn, or licorice.  Food is not allowed in any of the other museums.  Experienced piano players may play the piano.  If you choose to have snacks, please clean up when you are finished.  A bucket, sponge and broom will be available.  You might also want to bring napkins or paper towels.    

3)    You may borrow gold pans and try your luck on nearby Humbug Creek (within walking distance.)  If you have more than 30 students, you can break them up into smaller groups and have half gold-pan while the other half does the scavenger hunt, and then rotate.

4)     Students may watch a 15-minute video on hydraulic gold mining and local history. 

5)     There is a wonderful natural diversity of Sierra Nevada plant and animal life at Malakoff Diggins.  If you wish to have a guided nature hike, please inquire about staff availability prior to arrival.

There are small souvenirs, T-shirts, books, games, etc. for sale in the museum.  If your group would like to make purchases, please bring them in together after your scavenger hunt is over.

Please Note:  There is a wealth of information on the Internet.  Try “Hydraulic Mining,” “North Bloomfield,”  “Malakoff Diggins,” or “Nevada County Gold” in your search engine.