Nederland Mining Museum Virtual Field Trip

Nederland Mining Museum Virtual Field Trip

Take a virtual visit to the Nederland Mining Museum to learn about Boulder County mining history and see some of the tools miners used.

These field trips are primarily intended for third and fourth grades, but they are flexible and can be adjusted for the group and time available. It is important that the group read the introduction to the field trip. This could be read aloud to students or by students on their own. That way students will know a bit about the place they are virtually visiting!

Introducing the Nederland Mining Museum

By the late 20th century, mining families in the Nederland area wanted a place to collect and exhibit artifacts from their storied past. Led by two local people with backgrounds and an interest in mining, they began to identify and locate machines, tools, pictures, documents, and ore samples that could form a museum collection. The building that now houses the museum used to be the county highway maintenance garage. Lots of huge vehicles, like snowplows and dump trucks, were worked on in this building many years ago. It is in the traffic circle in downtown Nederland.

The museum opened in 2003 and was run by a volunteer organization, the Nederland Area Historical Society. It was difficult and expensive for volunteers to run the museum in just their free time, without pay, and with jobs and many other things in their lives. In 2012, Boulder County Parks & Open Space bought the museum’s collection of artifacts—the tools and things used in mining long ago that were inside and outside just next to the museum. Starting in 2013 Boulder County’s Cultural History group began managing the museum.

People from all over the world visit the museum when it is open from June-October and Nederland’s weather is at its best. The steam shovel behind the museum is part of mining history, as well as world history, because it dug the Panama Canal. However, the shovel still belongs to the historical society.


Talk, Write, Draw, & Think

Early miner’s helmets were made of only hardened canvas cloth; later ones are a hard plastic-like material. How safe do you think each of those helmets were? What other kinds of safety items did miners wear in the old-fashioned days? Are there better safety items they could have nowadays with the technology we have? If so, what?

Many boys became miners because their fathers and grandfathers were miners. Sometimes they started as soon as they finished eighth grade or even earlier. Do we work the types of jobs our parents have nowadays? At what age do people usually start working now? What is positive (good) or negative (bad) about going to work at a younger or older age? Is it better to work with less or more schooling? Would you rather work in a mine than go to school?

In early mining days, candles were used to light the dark mines as the miners worked underground. What would it be like to work using just the light from a candle stuck in the wall of the mine? How much do you think you could see in a totally dark space with a single candle? How would it be to work and move around? What hazards might there be; what benefits might there be in using a candle?

Would you have liked to work around a stamp mill (keep in mind there wasn’t just one of them like there is in the museum, but many side by side). Why or why not?

List the mining jobs you’ve learned about or do some research to find out more. Which jobs would you like to try?

Things To Try

Rock Detective

Collect 3-6 rocks in your yard or on land where you have the owner’s permission.

  • Find a book or website on rocks and minerals.
  • Be a scientist and observe the qualities of the rocks: their size, how heavy, and how shiny they are. If you carefully scratch each rock on a piece of paper, do they leave a mark?
  • Can you identify what kinds of rocks they might be using the book or webpage?
  • Visit a rock shop and/or museum exhibit on rocks and minerals to find examples of the minerals mined in Boulder County. Are there other rocks that catch your attention; why?

Periodic Table Investigation

Find the periodic table of the elements in a book or online. How would you write gold, silver, and tungsten using their letters and possibly their numbers on the periodic table? Find the information for other elements you have heard of before—how would you write water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide?

Other Resources

We also have a variety of background information and related activities that you can use to enhance your lessons. Feel free to use these and let us know if we can provide further information or details for you.


We would love to know if you used any of these resources for a virtual field trip. If you did, please email with the number of students, their ages/grade levels, and the name and location of the school. Feel free to let us know what we can do to improve these resources for the future.


Contact Us

Parks & Open Space

Sheryl Kippen