Swiss Cabin, CA



Start Date


End Date


Time Commitment

Full time (30+ hrs/wk)


Short-Term (few weeks/months)


United States


In January 1848, the same year Mexico ceded control of the area to the United States, gold was discovered in California. The story of what comes next is an iconic movement in American history. On December 5, 1848, President Polk's official announcement of the precious metal's discovery to a national audience catalyzed not just Americans, but gold-seekers from all over the world, to pack up and start the journey to California's goldfields. The years of sleepy mission towns dotting the landscape had come to an end with the arrival of more than 300,000 speculators. The mass immigration was so fast, and produced so much wealth, that in 1850 California became the Union's 31st state - in record time.

Join HistoriCorps to remember and preserve the historic miner's residence of Swiss Cabin, an iconic remembrance of a pivotal moment in American and Californian history.

Volunteers should plan on arriving at the campsite between 6pm and 8pm on the first day of the session, and departing after lunch on the last day.

"Independent Gold Hunter on His Way to California", circa 1850. The gold hunter is loaded down with every conceivable appliance, much of which would be useless in California. The prospector says: "I am sorry I did not follow the advice of Granny and go around the Horn, through the Straights, or by Chagres [Panama]." (source)

*Note: a high-clearance vehicle is recommended to access the jobsite. Those in sedans/low clearance vehicles may have to get out to move rocks in the road occasionally. Smaller trailers/RVs will fare best here in the twisty roads to access the campsite.

PROJECT PARTNER:  Plumas National Forest

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: At mile 31.3 on the Plumas National Forest Backcountry Discovery Trail lies the historic Swiss Mine and its accompanying miner's cabin. The guide shares, "The Swiss Mine was owned by the Piazzoni family, Swiss immigrants who took up mining on Owl Creek. The family married into a local Maidu Indian family and maintained the mine and cabin for more than 100 years. Look for the remains of a wagon nearby."

The cabin serves as an interpretive site for intrepid and curious travelers in the Sierra Nevada Goldfield of northern California. As word of the land's wealth began to spread in 1848, more than 300,000 people from the States and abroad moved to California hoping to strike it rich. The sudden mass immigration had significant effect on the region's indigenous societies, whose communities experienced displacement and attacks by gold-seekers. Meanwhile, San Francisco grew from a town of 200 to a city of 36,000 from 1846-1952. Ships, carrying goods to the new population, often lost crewmen who deserted to the goldfields. Later, the ships themselves were repurposed as warehouses, stores, and even a jail.

The history that led to the Swiss Cabin being built is frenetic in its pace and complexity. You can read a primer here.

VOLUNTEER FAQs: Find answers to the most common questions on our FAQ page. All first-time volunteers should review these.

WHO: All are welcome, no experience needed. Those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian accompany them. Children younger than 14 are not permitted on HistoriCorps projects with rare exceptions.

New for 2018: Camp Helper Volunteer Position! We have one spot available per session for a volunteer who, instead of project work, prefers to help our field staff with camp and kitchen chores. If you're interested in this position, choose that ticket below.

WHAT: Volunteers will work with field staff to learn and improve their skills at the following tasks:

Task Approximate Percentage of Scope* 1. Strip existing roofing materials 30% 2. Repair roof support logs 30% 3. Install cedar shake shingles 40%

*Note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups' work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

WHERE: Swiss Mine is near Seneca, CA (map) and approximately 3 hours northeast of Sacramento, CA.

Coordinates: 40.1102778, -121.117075

We will be camping offsite, and commuting daily to the jobsite. The exact location will be announced at a later date.

AREA TOURISM: The Plumas National Forest is loved by hikers, mountain climbers, motorized vehicle users, hunters, and fishermen.


  • Please visit our Volunteer Information and FAQs page for general information.
  • Plan to arrive between 6 p.m and 8 p.m. on the first day of your project session.
  • Volunteers should bring their own camping equipment, including a tent with rainfly and groundcloth, and sleeping bag and pad.
  • HistoriCorps will provide volunteers with meals including: breakfast, lunch, dinner, water and snacks.
  • Field staff will train volunteers in the project work. All tools are provided. Please do not bring your own tools – we don’t want them to get lost!
  • Volunteers are responsible for their transportation to the project site.
  • Volunteers must come prepared with proper attire including: sturdy work shoes, long pants and a work shirt.
  • Given the remote nature of this site, cell phone coverage will generally be spotty at best. Check with your carrier to determine if you might have service.
  • Are you interested in earning a hands-on education in historic preservation? This project counts towards the HistoriCorps Institute Certificate of Achievement in Heritage Conservation and Construction, contact Jamie Tobias at, or enroll online today!

Remember, we can't do it without you - truly! HistoriCorps projects require a lot of careful preparation and planning for volunteers, and we carefully orchestrate our work and meal plans around your registration. When you register, we take it seriously and understand that you are committed to joining us for the full project duration. So before you complete your registration, kindly remember to double-check the calendar, project location, and scope of work to make sure it's a good fit for you (and if you're not sure, give us a call!).

The majority of our communications with you will be via email, so please do check your spam/junk folders to make sure you're getting information from us!

If you have any further questions, please contact Liz Rice, Volunteer Manager, at or at 720-287-0100 ext. 231. Thank you for your interest in this project!

HistoriCorps is a service learning partner of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture committed to the preservation and stewardship of significant resources on public lands.

  • Session 1
  • July 10, 2018 - July 15, 2018
  • Session 2
  • July 17, 2018 - July 22, 2018
  • Camp & Kitchen Helper, Session 1
  • July 10, 2018 - July 15, 2018
  • Camp & Kitchen Helper, Session 2
  • July 17, 2018 - July 22, 2018


  • Training Provided
  • Housing Available


  • Groups
  • Families
  • International Volunteers