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BANDON - Visitors can strike gold at the Bandon Historical Society Museum on Sunday, July 29, through the inspiration of a new-to-the-museum volunteer and the support of a business sponsor - The Sunset Motel - and the Coquille Tribal Community Fund.

A gold panning station will be set up outside the museum during open hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, July 29, and again Sunday, Sept. 2, on Labor Day weekend. For kids visiting the museum, the first pan of gravel is free. Adults can pan for $5 a pan and kids can pan again for $3 a pan. Museum admission is free on Sundays.

Before he moved to Bandon, Ron Loya was a volunteer at the museum in Mariposa, Calif., a community in the heart of the California gold rush country. Loya brought his experience with gold panning as a museum educational program to Bandon, another community with ties to the gold rush and mining.

The goal is to give kids the “gold panning bug,” according to Loya. If they learn how to do it in a controlled environment, they can take the skill with them to search the streams.

The museum’s first gold panning venture was to take the program to a session of 4-H camp at Camp Myrtlewood, near Bridge. Then the kids from Bandon Summer Fun program panned gold at the museum as a stop on their history hike June 27. Local Boy Scouts assisted Loya with that day’s program.

Funds from a Coquille Tribal Community Fund grant for educational materials purchased the equipment used for the program. Every young panner takes home a few gold flakes courtesy of The Sunset Motel.

“We refer to the gold Ron salts the pans with as ‘Sunset Gold,’” said museum board president Jim Proehl. “We were fortunate that someone came along with a good idea at a time when we had both a grant and a willing sponsor to support the program.”

“Free Summer Sundays” at the Bandon Museum are courtesy of First Interstate Bank and the Best Western Inn at Face Rock and continue through the Cranberry Festival weekend.

The Bandon Historical Society Museum is located at the corner of U.S. Highway 101 and Fillmore Avenue and is open in the summer every day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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