historic photos griffith quary
Penryn Griffith Quarry

Note: Black & White Photos above of group of men and drawing are courtesy Penryn Museum.

 

Penryn, California Griffith Granite Works Museum

 

Penryn, California - Griffith Quarry was established in 1864 by Welshman Griffith Griffith. This historic 23-acre park and museum (constructed in 1877) are remnants of the first granite polishing mill built in California.

 

The museum contains some of the original office furniture of the Penryn Granite Works and information on the Griffith family, the granite industry, and the history of the Penryn-Loomis Basin area.

 

Born on December 8, 1823 in Wales, the immigrant to California's gold country settled in the Penryn where some gold was discovered, but like many gold rush entrepreneurs, this gent made his fortune on other products. He purchased land that contained incredibly strong and beautiful stone material, a speckled granite of gray, tan and black that was used in building solid structures of high quality materials. Unlike the gold rush camps such as nearby Ophir that burned to the ground in three short years after being established in 1853, Griffith created his business at a time when the value for solid buildings made of fire resistant materials was recognized as a priority and worth the expense.  Griffith's granite quarry, Penryn Granite Works, supplied exceptionally strong raw material that can be found in the foundations and walls of a number of California's landmark historical buildings.

 

The Griffith Quarry Museum was the office of the Penryn Granite Works. The original black & white sketch above on display in the museum shows left to right the polishing works, yard and office of the site when it was operational. As you wander the grounds today you will only see the right hand building and on the grounds visible holes where mining occurred. Inside the museum are actual manuscripts, photographs, deeds, documents, a women's bathing suit, Mr. Griffith's stylish beaver top hat and some great artifacts such as a padlock from 1901.

 

Griffith named the town of Penryn (population today of around 2000) for the Penrhyn slate quarry in Wales. The "h" was omitted from the spelling of the California entity for convenience and simplicity.  Penryn, an unincorporated community of Placer County includes residences, some businesses, farms and fantastic roads that are worth exploring. Nearby Loomis, Newcastle, Rocklin, Roseville and Auburn are regions that all played an integral part in the Gold Rush and founding of California. Each community offers its own special charm with hidden gems such as produce stands, markets, wineries and art galleries.

 

When Griffith settled in the region, he offered provisions for his workers though there wasn't a town to speak of. Central Pacific Railroad with Griffith's Granite Station, a boarding house, a few houses and a saloon and store provided the basics until the town grew with the establishment of a school,  hotel, blacksmiths and several stores and saloons in the 1870s. When Griffith Griffith died in 1889, his nephew David Griffith purchased the property and continued producing granite for nearly 20 more years. At the turn of the 20th century, fruit farms were introduced as profitable ventures. Nearby Loomis Blue Goose Fruit Shed is a restored fruit packing house that's used as a community hall and meeting space for special events.

The Penryn Granite Works began producing less and less products and eventually was closed. David Griffith's daughter, Enid, the great-niece of Griffith Griffith, left the quarry property to the people of the County of Placer when she died in 1976. It is operated as a museum and classified as a California Historic Landmark.

 NO. 885 GRIFFITH QUARRY - Established in the fall of 1864 by Mr. Griffith Griffith, a native of Wales, the quarry located near this site supplied high-quality granite for a number of the important buildings in San Francisco and Sacramento, including portions of the state capitol. This was also the site of the state's first successful commercial granite polishing mill, erected in 1874.


Location: SE corner of Taylor and Rock Springs Rds, Penryn
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: ROCKLIN. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Placer County Park and Historical Restoration Commission, May 7, 1976.

Griffith Quarry Museum, Corner of Taylor Rd & Rock Springs Rd., Penryn, CA
Phone: (916) 663-1837. Open weekends, admission is free. (Subject to change, always call first!)
Call (916) 663-1837  www.placer.ca.gov

When visiting, take time to tour visit Penryn. Highlights include the granite Masonic Hall, built by Griffith Griffith and his employees, the old Episcopal Church (now a private home), and the palm lined streets that were planted by the founders of the Placer County Citrus Colony a century ago.

Planning a trip to this beautiful Gold Country region is easy. Flights into Sacramento or road trips make this a great vacation. We stayed in Roseville Hotels during our visit and found some new suite, business class hotels are ideal for vacationers as they provide a little extra space. My personal home away from home was located at Fairfield Inn in Roseville. The rooms were really clean, nice and the location was a quick trip from Starbucks coffee, which I like for breakfast pick-me-ups while on the road. Not be be confused with Roseville Minnesota hotels where the weather is colder in the winter, the California version of Roseville is tops on our list of up and coming cities to see in California. It is growing faster than you can imagine and now hosts many corporations and their business travelers. But for tourists, this situation makes Penryn, Loomis and Roseville and ideal home base for your vacation near Sacramento and California Gold.