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From the Sixteen to One Archives

       

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 By Michael Miller

09/01/2006  8:09PM

UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA – RENO
Department of Mining Engineering
Mail Stop 168
Mackay School of Mines
Reno, Nevada 89557-0139
(702) 784-6961
FAX (702) 784-1766

April 25, 1993

Mr. Michael M. Miller, President
Original Sixteen-to-One Mining Company
U.S. Post Office 1621
Alleghany, CA 95910

Dear Mr. Miller:

On March 22, 1993, eight students and one professor of the John Mackay Club from the Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno, were provided a marvelous tour of the Original Sixteen-to-One mine in Alleghany, California. The attention received and thoroughness of the tour made for an extremely successful and memorable visit. The group was treated to a highly informative engineering discussion with Mr. Johan Raadsma, a superb underground tour led by Mr. Ian Haley, a complete overview of the milling process, and allowed to examine a portion of the fabulous Sixteen-to-One gold collection. From both the mining and purely engineering perspective, the day proved exceptionally educational.
I wish to thank you and all Sixteen-to-One personnel involved for your efforts in arranging this visit and for your willingness to support mining education. I realize the value of the time dedicated to our group during production hours and speak on behalf of the entire group by reemphasizing our appreciation. To express our gratitude we wish to offer you an honorary membership in the John Mackay Club, an organization compromised of future professionals in the minerals industry; please accept the membership card attached to this letter.
Enclosed with this letter as well is a summary report of our visit to the Sixteen-to-One as you originally requested. The report contains photographs chronicling our tour and remarks concerning the present mining operation from the engineer’s perspective.
Thank you once again for arranging this most enjoyable visit. Yours sincerely, //s//
Leo Gilbride John Mackay Club President
 By Michael Miller

08/07/2006  9:53PM

The following is actually from my historical archives, special books about the gold experience. It is a small part of a chapter written with first hand experiences during the early days of Sierra County : Hallowed Were the Gold Dust Trails. My editing is quite light. The Sixteen to One and my home are in this County. Sierra County is the second smallest county (by population) in California. Downieville is the county seat (about four hundred people). I first drove to Downieville in 1973 on a trip to find home. I returned a year later with my father, who owned a little stock in Original Sixteen to One Mine and moved to Alleghany in 1975. I hope you enjoy another glimpse of early California.


SIERRA COUNTY

From the dry and dusty slopes of Nevada, travelers cross the California border to the evergreen forests of the Yuba’s upper ridges and enter fascinating Sierra County; fascinating because of its pine-clad mountain heights, fascinating because of its historic creeks and rivers of gold, and more fascinating perhaps because of the strange race of pioneers who blazed the way into its almost impenetrable defiles.
Leading into the heart of Sierra County in the earliest days were two main trails, one starting from Marysville and winding up through Yuba County to Foster’s Bar; the other starting at Nevada City in Nevada County and meandering in and out of one gulch after another until it came to San Juan Ridge, which it crossed, finally leading into Camptonville, near the western border of Sierra County.
The history of placer mining in this region begins with the explorations along the North Fork of the Yuba River, the first prospecting having been made at Foster’s Bar, close to the eastern border line of Yuba County. From here prospectors entered Sierra County, where in a short while they found gold in abundance on almost all the creeks and tributaries flowing from the north and the east.
In the month of October a hard-headed Scotchman named Downie, who had run a steamboat on Lake Erie, prevailed upon an Irish adventurer named Michael Devaney to take a chance with him, and to start out into the alluring wilderness ahead. Securing the services of an Indian who was familiar with the section, and promising to share his supplies with any others who would join the expedition, Downie finally got a company together, made up of ten Negroes and a Kanaka named Jim Crow.
This intrepid company blazed a trail which was followed for many years afterwards by travelers into the mining camps as far east as Sierra City. Passing over the North Fork of the Yuba out of Foster’s Bar, they fought their way up Willow Creek just above the present town of Camptonville, then struck out over the ridge to the east till they came to an elevated area, where the town of Mountain House was afterwards established. Gazing down the canyon towards Goodyear’s Bar they declared that they were entranced with the gorgeous vision of mountains, forest and canyon scenery that appeared on either hand, and Downie himself admitted in after years that it was the most picturesque sight he had yet seen in all his travels. Coming down Woodruff Canyon from Mountain House they made for the banks of the North Fork of the Yuba River, and as they descended the trail they did some prospecting. Even when they reached the flats on the river, which afterwards became known as Goodyear’s Bar, they spent some time searching for “color,” but without any great success. Continuing on up stream for about four miles, prospecting all the way, they finally arrived at a quiet little recess in the forest glades about which the lofty forms of mountains had strung a great protecting barrier. Into this wild garden retreat three branches of the North Fork of the Yuba were gently flowing, making it a most practical spot in which to pitch their tents and settle down. Describing this scene afterwards, in the year 1858 to be exact, Major Downie wrote:
I shall never forget the fascination of that first picture of what we then called “The Forks.” Long willows waved on the banks, pine and spruce trees rose in stately groups where saloons now stand, the hillsides were covered with handsome oaks, their strong branches sheltering the Indian wigwams, and here and there a great monarch of the forest towering above everything.
Strangely enough the Forks proved to be as alluring in its deposits of gold as it was in its wealth of wild beauty. From the very first day that Downie and his men began panning the gravel beds, they were successful. Little by little they began to realize that the whole area where the three little streams came together was so rich in flakes and good-sized nuggets that they took up separate claims, each man staking out an attractive diggings for himself. The story goes that each man struck bonanza. In four days an average sum of $1,000 was panned by every miner, and by Christmas they were so wealthy that they grew impatient to celebrate.
Although the hills were covered with snow, they packed their gold dust safely in their pokes, all but Downie and Devaney, and set out on their return over the old trail, bound for the big cities and a roaring good time. In the meantime the Yuba River rose above its banks, and mining became impossible at the forks, so Downie and Devaney dug in for a season of hibernation. The members of the band, on their departure, had promised to return in the early Spring with stores of supplies for the camp, but the only one who kept his word was Jim Crow, who, in about three months’ time, showed up again, stocked with as much in the line of provisions as could be loaded on the backs of a couple of mules.
News about the discovery of rich diggings up at the forks on the North Yuba River spread rapidly to the rest of the mining country, and by April, 1850, it was estimated that there were about 5,000 miners at work in that region, and all of them doing well. Then began to be opened up such camps as Durgan’s Bar, Zumwaldt’s Bar and Tin Cup Bar, close in by “The Forks,” which by this time took on the name of Downieville.
Little by little more prospectors wandered into Sierra County, and soon new diggings were opened up in all that area both to the north as well as to the south of the North Fork of the Yuba. Two trails led up to the camps in the southern area, one from Camptonville, and another from North San Juan in Nevada County. Some Hawaiians taking the later trail in May, 1850, found gold in a ravine ever after known as Kanaka Creek, and here arose the mining camps of Minnesota, Chip’s Flat and Alleghany, where quartz mining began later on.
But it was in the wide area to the north of the North Fork of the Yuba that the greatest development took place. And the story of the discovery of those mines is redolent with some of the fascination of the fairy tale. Just about ten miles to the north of Sierra City, at the boundary line of Plumas County, there are scores of small clear crystal lakes, fed by snows which annually descend in that rugged wilderness. A prospector named Stoddard, coming down to Foster’s Bar, reported that he had, while hunting there, chanced upon on of those lakes, the shores of which were aglow with golden sands. Great excitement was stirred up, and in the Spring of 1850 hundreds of anxious gold seekers began to take to the trails that led out of Foster’s Bar towards the realm of fancied wealth. After the first band of miners reached the region indicated by Stoddard, they searched long and diligently, but the glittering sands of the “Lake of Gold” were never revealed. When they became satisfied that is was all a grand hoax, the disappointed adventurers tried their hand at prospecting in the surrounding gullies and ravines. Imagine their surprise when they found “color” almost at once. And it was not long until they discovered that every creek bed from Foster’s Bar to the mythical Gold Lake section was a depository of golden promise. And it was not long either until thousands of eager miners were scouring these creek beds in search of the yellow metal.
During the period between 1850 and 1853 all the diggings in Sierra County were in a flourishing condition, well supplied with gaming houses and saloons, which in turn were full of patrons, who in consequence were generally full of ardent spirits and good cheer. There were no courts of law, and records of robberies and murders and lynching, though matching those of other sections of the mining country, have been fortunately obliterated in the shadows of the advancing years. In those days, the refining influence of virtuous womanhood was for the most part absent.
In the meantime Downieville grew as if by magic. By Summer it was estimated that there were not less than 5,000 people there, constantly coming and going. Tent structures prevailed. In 1851 Downieville polled 1,132 votes. Pure gold was now being discovered in the bed of the river in large lumps or nuggets; and the story still persists that in the year 1851 a nugget was found on the banks of the Yuba just above Downieville weighing twenty-six and a half pounds, and worth eight thousand dollars. There was only one street in the town, three or four hundred feet in length, for the mountains, at whose base it lay, were so steep that there was no room for more than one passageway between it and the river. All the miners in camps within eight or ten miles of Downieville depending upon it for supplies, and it was consequently at all times a scene of bustling activity.
It is now the year 1856. Although it was but seven years since the first gold seekers has appeared in the canyons of the North Yuba, the whole area here had been ransacked; every flat and ravine had been prospected. Life was led so fast that already it could show ruins and deserted villages. Hydraulic mining was now the order of the day, and the section of Sierra County from Howland Flat in the north to Alleghany on the south was being worked by many companies in the process of wholesale sluicing. Great gangs of men could be seen operating giant monitors, cutting wide gashes in the hills and ridges. Thirteen miles below was Camptonville, the outskirts of which were flattened and thoroughly washed of thousands of dollars in loose gold; ten miles farther to the south, but over in Nevada County, was North San Juan, with a population of ten thousand, the central supply town for the rich hydraulic operations on the famous San Juan Ridge. Nowhere in California was hydraulic mining undertaken on such a gigantic scale as here. A great network of flumes and canals had been constructed to bring in water for these operations, said to have cost something like five million dollars. Prominent among these fields of gold-bearing gravel deposits were Cherokee, North Columbia, Lake City, and North Bloomfield, were the Malakoff Mine was situated, the most colossal hydraulic excavation in the Sierras. Most of these areas were being mined up to the month of January 1884, when a state law closed them down for good.
A correspondent of the Hutching’s Magazine of San Francisco went to these parts to report on the mining activities, but, instead of giving factual accounts of operations, no doubt bewitched by the superb beauty of his surroundings, he breaks forth into this very romantic effusion:
The sheet of vapor, which hangs in dreamy silence above the brow of the Sierras, descends and gathers its misty mantle about the frail flower which nods to the passing brook. As the morning sun melts the dewy tears, they fall into the stream, and are borne along the restless current. On and on it glides, now struggling over rocks and craggy steeps, now dancing in the sunlight, or kissing the weeping foliage which seeks to span the stream, and now exulting in its liberty – when lo! The bearded miner issues forth from his rude hut and, with implements in hand, forthwith proceeds to chain the trembling drops; and still it struggles, but too soon the fetters are secure, and though it shrinks, yet it is urged on to its debasing destiny. All day it labors, and again as night approaches; but as the tiny globulet surveys itself, how sadly changed! Its face discolored, the luster of its eye is vanished; in disgust it turns away to rest, not on the fair face of the pale flower which cast it on the pitiless world, but to lose its identity among swarthy companions in a neighboring pool.
Often on thinking of the men of the early mining days we visualize them as grizzly specimens of manhood, ranging in age from forty to sixty years, whereas most of them were under forty. In fact we might say that the Americans who precipitated themselves upon California in the pioneer days if not the flower of the United States citizenry, were beings of sterner mould; ambitious individuals in the prime of life, men of imagination, men of dreams, spirits imbued with the highest forms of romanticism and adventure, who came west not so much with the hope of gathering to themselves great heaps of golden treasure as with the desire of reveling in the excitement of discovery, of feeling that thrill we all love to experience, of suddenly coming upon buried treasure – the stuff of which tales like Robinson Crusoe and Ali Baba and Treasure Island are made.
Deep in the heart of the Sierra Hills the picturesque little village of Downieville still flourishes, restored again to the beauty which it possessed when it flashed on the bewildered vision of old Major Downie in the winter of 1849. A goodly number of its inhabitants today are descendants of the pioneers who first panned the flats on “The Forks” for hidden wealth. A traveler wrote in 1857:
Not long ago, in company with Father John McGarry and Father Patrick O’Reilly, the pastor of Grass Valley, two priests who had spent most of their lives in these historic precincts, I paid a visit to this delightful spot. To me it was an experience I shall not soon forget. And yet it was not the enchantment of the forest and river and mountain scenery which thrilled me, so much as the gladsome spirit manifested by these humble folk on meeting once more these kindly men of God, more dear to them than anything else in life. As one of the old-timers whispered to me, when we were leaving, “Like the faithful old Yuba they gave us of their bounty, for their hearts are hearts of gold.”
 By Michael Miller

07/28/2006  11:03AM

There were three reasons I bid the Empire Mine Adit Project. (1) The Sixteen to One was not producing gold and I wanted to keep the crew together in a paying job. At least the Sixteen to One would have miners to do maintenance and some gold detecting. (2) The project was a topic of interest to our mining men, who put effort over an eighteen-year time span to create the project. Local miners were the right ones to open the Empire Its benefit to the Sixteen to One is in its educational value to the public. Mining companies either spin the benefits of mining with a lot of BS, or they completely ignore the responsibility of getting public support for the miners’ work. The Sixteen has suffered immensely because of outside interference from people who do not understand mining. This perception must change if mining is to continue in America. The Sixteen has been proactive with public programs: supports a museum, donates gold specimens to non profits for raffles, teaches boy scouts about mining, talks to school classes, and maintains an informative web site designed for education not hype. (3) The last of the three reasons revolves around the hard work, dedication and skills of our crew. Miners should hold their heads high, whether it is coal, uranium or gold. In a society where the cowboy is an American hero, the miner has not only been lost but also vilified. The Empire Mine draws over 100,000 people annually. Park people hope the new adit will increase attendance. Scoop found a letter that honored the Sixteen to One miner. It is part of of a permanent history.

Interestingly, the Empire job began July 10, 2004, although the bidding occurred in January. In July only three miners (Joe, Reid and Ian ) held onto the belief in and dream of gold at the Sixteen. All the other quit. It was a dark time. I decided to pull the plug and shut it down August first. The men were exhausted and I was concerned for their safety. On July 14, they drilled into a million dollar pocket. The Sixteen to One dodged another setback.

The Empire Mine project has been a very difficult undertaking because of its unusual circumstances: the actions of well meaning Park employees, unfamiliar with the truths of mining and our unfamiliarity with the State of California bureaucracy governing contracts. Nevertheless, we worked through our problems.

If I had to, well let’s imagine some massive social catastrophe or natural disaster happened, if I had to organize and lead a team of people on a difficult mission of survival, miners would be my first choice of comrades. This message permeates many letters I have put in the public domain with State Parks: real miners solve problems as a habit. It is what they do on a daily basis underground in an old mine like the Sixteen or Empire. One last reason Scoop dug it from the archives was the interest we have heard from people about the Empire project. Its topic category on the Forum has been quite for reasons, which will no longer be important once the contract is final.

Thanks for asking.
 By John Yuma

07/26/2006  7:55PM

Mike:
What does this have to do with the 16:1 mine?
 By SCOOP

07/25/2006  10:30PM

Letter from Scoop offers up high-grade item from company. Rae is out of office for a week and offered me her computer for research. Well, Scoop found some archives and yes, passes it on to you.

Phil is \State Park Construction Manager.

Letter year not given but guessing 2005 in August.
 By SCOOP

07/25/2006  10:23PM

August


Dear Phil,

This letter augments my last response to Parks order to suspend operations. There are unforeseen and unknown conditions that must be evaluated and correct to insure absolute safety for the public. The issue of safety for the miners is no issue. My employees are working in safe and familiar conditions, something we all encounter from time to time while mining in the hard rock mines on the Northern Mines District of California. Therefore the issue must be narrowed to evaluate the circumstances for eventual public use.

I propose the following: MGGM will excavate the spot where old workings first appeared in the approximate center of the adit to eighteen (18) inches below the solid rock floor of the adit from the left rib to the right rib. This will expose the entire footprint of the hole in the adit floor. A removable cover will be installed so as to make the hole accessible for inspection. Work will be allowed to continue. In return the project will be modified to eliminate the outside rail twenty feet beyond the junction of the dual track (switch) planned approximately from the future visitor center. There will be no additional cost to Parks. Our structural engineer will propose a safe method of covering the old workings, working closely with Parks as to material etc. MGGM will install the approved plan on a time and material basis or a bid, once the plan is finalized.

As to the old workings discovered in the far end of the niche, they present no danger to the miners. The opening was quite small and the raise was also quite narrow and small. I believe that exposing the old workings in the adit may shed some light on the workings closer to the shaft. Also according to the miners, the floor rock (or top of the raise) appeared to be six to eight feet thick along the strike of the raise. We can do additional work to examine the old workings in the niche, but such work should be postponed.

What was also unforeseen was the existence of a vein and associated vein structure, which accounts for the old workings in this area of the adit. As Charlie has most likely written, the material is dirt-like (4 to 6 feet wide) with approximately twelve inches of quartz. It is mineralized, but we have not segregated it or gathered any for study or assay. We must install four or five steel sets as the adit passes through the vein. The material has broken to form an arch, which will be supported to the steel lagging. This vein mixes benefits to the Park with the downside of increasing costs; however working in this environment is second nature to all of us. We are experts in small vein mining and have years of experience on site to safely pass through this area in the adit.

Please work with us to continue progress. Regards, MMM

So, MMM, what is going on at the Empire Mine State Park In Grass Valley, California. Scoop is in your archives.
 By John_Feagans

07/13/2006  10:08PM

Family came to Alleghany in 1919. No water bleeding because the underground river hit an earthquake fault. The shafts are all vertical or incline to access the tunnel. My father had three mining claims in Wet Ravine. "Ajax", "Pension", and "Jackpot". They were all quartz claims though two had access to the Blue lead. Ajax had an incline shaft 300' to bedrock. It had an hour-glass passing track in the middle for two ore cars to pass. The pump was a Cornish pump wiht the boiler and steam engine about 10 feet above the creek in Wet Ravine. My father located the tunnel portal in 1938 with his invention a ground sonar which also got him a safe position when he was drafted into the Army Signal corps in 1941. The boat and oars had melted to almost unrecognizable in 1964 when I visited them. "Jackpot" had a vertical shaft to the underground river channel but was never accessible to me. "Pension" was worked in 1910 by two men who folllowed something 100 yards into the hillside as the tunnel was curving back and forth. My father built a cabin and lived a subsistence living mining gold in Wet Ravine until WWII.
 By Rick

07/13/2006  8:21PM

I've been searching the want-ads for one good access portable portal for a good fifteen years now, and not one is to be found. I'd like to move it over to this good ground I've been looking at, certainly promising for exploration, but, alas, I haven't found a good one, even on Craig's List.

Anyone seen a good, portable portal for sale?
 By SCOOP

07/13/2006  7:54PM

Stories of a tunnel connecting Alleghany to Forest City raise the question, Where are the portals? One geologist studied a 1923 water map and concluded the Alleghany portal was on the bank behind the community park. Another geologist (both have large professional experiences working in the Alleghany Mining District) states there is no tunnel and there never has been. Scoop interviewed four long time Alleghany residents for an answer to, where is the portal? None knew but each remembered stories told by “old timer” of its existence.

Scoop asks you or anyone: Where are the portals? Who drove them and when? Why is no water bleeding from them today?
 By jfeagans

07/10/2006  7:48PM

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the answer. It's hard to keep your eyes on the prize when gold is all over. You may have heard about the rowboat at the bottom of the shaft? It was used to go from Forest City to Alleghany. When the Mugwump was being re-developed, and the Oriental explored in the '60's the water actually got low enough again to see the remains. Legend has it three Chinese miners are entombed in the fallen gravel as well. I tried exploring with a metal dector that I built but only attracted mosquitos and not the gold.
 By Michael Miller

07/09/2006  3:30PM

Answer to the Shaft Question below...

A couple of the guys who broke into underground mining in Alleghany are now doing tunnel work from Atlanta Georgia to San Diego. Tunnels are a billion dollar business, actually billions of dollars each year. (Few mining operations are sinking shafts presently in the United States.) These friends have educated me about the benefits of a vertical shaft over a decline. I have evolved to believe that the costs of operating (hoisting) and maintenance will be less with a vertical shaft at Red Star than the shafts and winzes poked underground in Alleghany. Construction costs will likely be comparable (maybe even less if one of my construction ideas proves out).

With a vertical shaft we can plan exactly where we will end sinking. In the good old days of mining in Alleghany, most of the declines also followed the vein. Therefore the results form an undulating hole. Our vein system takes many twists and dips which ultimately affected the end point. The Red Star sits in the middle of our mining claims, about six miles along the strike of the vein. It will open a large section of new ground. An additional benefit will be the fact that the new Red Star shaft will cut through the Blue Lead. For those unfamiliar with the Blue Lead, it is one of the richest placer deposits ever mined. The placer gold came from the lode that we continue to mine today. This is a very exciting bonus and one that holds much interest. Many accounts have been written about the rich nuggets and quartz boulders laced with gold. It stirs the blood of a gold seeker.

So, what has held the Company back for 100 years from sinking into the Red Star? As the Sixteen to One organization grew, it added attractive targets with each purchase. I have done the same with the Brown Bear in Trinity County and the Plumbago. Before that it was the purchase of the Rainbow, Rainbow Extension and going way back the Tightner. What holds us back now is only the money to complete the shaft plans. Every bit of geology tells us that no greater target exists for the Company and perhaps no greater target exists in the United States.
 By jfeagans

07/07/2006  9:49PM

Hi Michael,

In the late 1930's and 1940's several attempts were made to reach the Red Star veins from Wet Ravine. The first was the 16toOne extension which sunk a vertical shaft and drifted several directions. The second was the Seven Aces which started an incline shaft to intercept where the vein was located. Unfortunately they sank the incline shaft interrupted by horizintal drifts rather than heading for the target. Why a proposed vertical shaft rather than one of these other methods?
 By Michael Miller

01/11/2006  6:35PM

GOLD AND BLACK GOLD

Oil hunters from little wildcatting operations to international corporations have probed the earth. Writers proclaim, “No other phenomenon has changed the lives of Americans more than the “black bonanza”…oil. From its first use as a cure-all medicine to the more than 4,000 products in which it is now used, oil has become increasingly important to our everyday existence.”
No machine Age miracle has changed the lives of Americans more than the Black Bonanza, which dates from 1855, a year in which a quarter of a million eager prospectors were frantically overturning the Sierra Nevada foothills for their share of California’s fabulous Gold Bonanza, which then seemed far more fabulous than petroleum. While Yankees sweated and fought for the precious yellow metal, two Mexican prospectors, General Andreas Pico and his nephew Romulo, were digging pits unnoticed in a canyon north of San Fernando Mission in Southern California. From these pits the Picos scooped up a black, sticky tar which they sold at the mission for healing and illuminating uses. The Picos were completely unaware that they were pioneering an industry destined to change the tempo, the living, the shape, and the size of the world.
One exceptional Forty-niner who may have sensed the importance of the Picos’ oil strike was a New York sperm-oil dealer, George S. Gilbert. While others scrambled for gold, Gilbert was busily devising a crude refinery near Ventura Mission to boil off the vapors of black petroleum from pits in Sulphur Mountain, at the lower end of the same valley in which the Picos mined tar. Gilbert sold the heavy residue of his still as grease for squeaky ox-cart axels, and in 1857 he consigned a hundred kegs of his rock oil to A. C. Ferris of Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately transporting the keg of oil across the Isthmus of Panama by mule-back power proved so difficult that the muleteers dumped the consignment in the jungle.
Had Gilbert’s oil reached the New York market on schedule, the monument marking the birthplace of the oil industry might well have been on San Antonio Creek in Southern California instead of at Titusville on Oil Creek in Pennsylvania, where Uncle Billy Smith, the blacksmith punched a hole in the earth that was to be this country’s first oil well. That year, 1857, oil was first found at Ploesti, Rumania. At Pittsburgh Sam Kier, the druggist was bottling crude petroleum as “rock oil, celebrated for its wonderful curative powers.” Then came the eventful year of 1859, when the Drake well touched off the Pennsylvania oil stampede, a scramble as wild as was the California Gold Rush.
The men who pioneered the petroleum industry, both in California and in Pennsylvania, wanted crude oil for purposes that seem ridiculous today. “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake and his backers and their oil-mad rivals thought of a barrel of crude oil only as rock oil which could be used “both internally and externally” and for a cheaper source of so-called “coal oil.” At the time illuminating oil was extracted either from whales or from coal, both expensive processes. General Pico likewise was motivated by the belief that “fossil oil” would cure man’s aches and light his nights. Gilbert hit on the bigger idea of lubricants; to get them, he had to boil off the volatile gases, thus percolating into the thin air the most efficient package of power that man would find until the Atomic Age dawned a century later.
The Black Bonanza was overshadowed by the more spectacular California Gold Rush. Men wanted gold because it was the token of wealth. In time the gold they wrested from California’s hills and rivers, roughly 3 billion dollars’ worth, found its way back underground in vaults at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Denver, Colorado. The oil from beneath California’s soils exceeded even the wildest predictions of Professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr., of Yale that it would aggregate “more than all the whales in the Pacific Ocean” could yield.
None of the pioneers of the original Black Bonanza, nor their contemporaries who punched holes for oil in Ohio, West Virginia, New York, and neighboring states, had the slightest notion of what was in a barrel of oil. No early prospector or producer dreamed that each barrel of petroleum flowing out of the earth contained the makings of over four thousand potential products which, within the next century, would change the living of civilized peoples.
Imagine a world without oil.
Nine decades after discovery Reese H. Taylor, president of Union Oil Company, said, “We have just started to unlock the secrets in a barrel of oil.”
Oilmen know that oil is the lifeblood of modern civilization. Their important task is to make that lifeblood even more valuable. To do so under the American system industrialist must compete successfully in the fields simultaneously, for capital for people and for markets. To fail in any one of these fields inhibits success in the other two. This seems like a simple and worthwhile formula, but human nature being as unfathomable as a barrel of oil, or a pocket of gold, calls for some lost or forgotten wildcatting to enable all to realize the prospects unlimited.

Wildcatting for a pocket of gold is a theme and dream worth realizing.
 By mdvaden

11/27/2005  9:32PM

I stumbled upon this forum while searching for info on the Blue Ledge Mine. Apparently it's drain water has affected Joe Creek. There were internet documents pertaining to research at the university in Ashland, Oregon and a geological society meeting in Denver in 2004 about that issue.

My profession involves trees, so forests are an interest. The mine and and acid produced by some is information I'm including on a forestry article on my arborist / landscape web site.

My father is also active with mines from a production / profit standpoint. So he has shared a few things about mines that caught my interest too. Not environmental things - just the methods, tools and means.

On this forum, this thread triggered a seach with this text posted 8-24-2005

"...Development at Alleghany. [Colorado Capital plans big operations.] June 13, 1909- L.A. Times..."

"...In other mother lode counties mines are in full blast.
Southern Californians in the Blue Ledge copper district, Siskiyou County, are opening excellent properties, and recent developments indicate that as soon as the copper market sufficiently improves, the Blue Ledge will rank next to the Shasta belt. At the Blue Ledge mine, large reserves of excellent grade copper have been developed with a smelter installed; the company would be in a position to produce on a large scale. The St, Albans, Bloomfield, Joe Creek, Medford, Copper King and numerous others are also showing well. Several eastern, British and Spokane people are interested. The chief drawback of the district is the lack of adequate transportation facilities..."

I took a hike up there last week. Facinating scenery.

It crossed my mine that there may still be copper reserves in the ground. But that mine may be a touchy one to open for two reasons.

1. It's already affecting a Joe Creek that leads into tributaries of the largest lake of Rogue River National Forest. The toxic pH is limited, but it's obvious even by looking.

2. The Applegate valley apparently has a fanatical group that opposes things - even like a big church springing up in the valley, let alone mining the ground where tailings produce sulfuric acid.

I started a page at my site to tie-in to forest and forestry.

By the way, I'm an arborist, but I'm not a tree hugger. I'm middle ground.

That page is at:

www.mdvaden.com/blue_ledge_mine.shtml

It's on www.mdvaden.com
So much mining has occured here near Jacksonville and Ruch, Oregon, that I may just try my hand at it sometime.

I suppose my dad can help me figure out how to go about it right.

Thanks for letting me join the forum. Hope I have time to get back on.
 By Michael Miller

11/01/2005  11:42AM

WESTERN COMBINE BY MINERS

Six western governors will participate in the Western Governors Mineral Policies Conference in Sacramento, November 7 and 8 (1955). They include Goodwin J. Knight of California, Charles Russell of Nevada, J. Bracken Lee of Utah, Robert E. Smylie of Idaho, Milward Simpson of Wyoming and Stephen L.R. McNichols of Colorado. Approximately 500 are expected to attend the invitational conference. Governor Knight will give the keynote address. Senator Thomas Kuchel will speak on “Building a Permanent Domestic Mining Industry” and Governor Smylie will speak on “The Nation’s Need For a Strong Mineral Industry”.

In issuing the call for the conference in Sacramento, Governor Knight said:
“The permanent welfare of the mining and mineral-consuming industries in the Western states is strategically important to national defense and vital to the economy of the United States of America.”

This conference was reported in The Mountain Messenger fifty years ago. The need to address Senator Kuchel’s and the Governors’ topics is more important today than much of what both business, government and media people are giving us. The base of our quality of life includes industrial economics. Its basis can be found in mineral extraction, commonly called “mining”. Gold mining, exploitation and America are good words, ideas or concepts. Fifty years ago 500 people gathered in Sacramento to lead the nation in understanding the importance of the welfare of the mining and mineral consuming industries. Would such a conference draw 500 participants today? Likely, no. Help!

News Flash:
We just received word that Barrick made an unsolicited offer to buy Placer Dome for $9,200,000,000. Read past entries.
 By SCOOP

10/05/2005  3:54PM

BUTTERFIELD’S TO OFFER 17 POUND NATIVE GOLD PIECE
Nov. 25, 1994

Los Angeles and San Francisco calif.- Butterfield & Butterfield will auction native gold from the pioneering Original Sixteen to One Mine, the oldest, continuously operated mine in the West. The phenomenal event, a first for any auction house, will take place on Dec. 15 at Butterfield & Butterfield’s galleries. Expected to draw capacity crowds, it is a historic opportunity to reflect on the timeless and universal luster of gold.
The Original Sixteen to One Mine is situated in the mountain town of Alleghany, on the western flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains; the area itself, first discovered in 1851, has been and is, the site of some of the richest concentrations of gold in the world, and helped propel the rush for gold. The Original Sixteen to One is one of the most dynamic, and with its tradition of innovative mining techniques, one of the most successful mines ever, continuing a rich history of discovering pods of gold with astonishing yields.
The auction’s paramount feature is ‘The Whopper’. It is the single most spectacular specimen to come out of the mine in modern history, with 141 oz. Of gold content and weighing at a (whopping) 17lbs. It was discovered in the late summer of 1993, a stunning preface to the mine’s $1 million gold find of Dec. 17. Another undisputed auction highlight is a gold quartz specimen, carved into a one of a kind sphere by a renowned lapidary.
The Original Sixteen to One Mine, as well as others, acquired new fame at the turn of the century, when it was determined that quartz veins of gold were coveted not only for their intrinsic value as precious metals but for jewelry as well. (In New York for example, Tiffany Co. fashioned exotic pieces from the polished slabs of ore.)
The auction features not only examples of gold-in-quartz jewelry; in a rich variety of forms, the array of other gold specimens and slabs from the legendary Original Sixteen to One Mine to be offered includes gold crystals, chunks of rough native crystalline gold, ball mill forms, leaf gold and gold-in-quartz.
 By gfxgold

08/24/2005  11:46PM

Don't you just love armchair quarterbacks?
Well, the oil business is a little like gold mining. If a couple of roughnecks decide to strike out on their own with a Duece and a Half Cornbinder, a derrick and all the macaroni they can carry (plus a whole lot more), somebody is sure to back them with a little cash. Whether they get the nod to drill from a doodle-bugger or a rock-hound and the hole turns out to be a duster and the next one is a blowout is of no concern because, they're drilling in a proven area and the guy next door just hit a gusher... there are always more investors. If you do hit it, you can cap the well and move to the next one.
However, with mining, You drill and blast a lot bigger hole. The gold does not come to you. You must go down to the gold and carry it to the surface. Now you are producing a spiderweb of tunnels and carrying gold to the surface from a much greater distance. As with oil, it is better to have several wells to bring the oil to the surface. the same is true in mining. Hence, The Red Star Shaft. This would provide an opportunity to expand on an existing spiderweb and to create a safer environment for the miners by increasing airflow and providing a safe alternate exit. Also, it would cut costs by reducing the distance to daylight the gold.
However, as you expand a mining operation, you must become a professional plate spinner. You know, those guys in the circus that can spin a plate on the end of a stick and then another and another. But, then the first one starts to wobble and everybody thinks it will fall but, the plate spinner runs back and gets them all spinning again and spins even more. Well, thats how it is underground (and in the office). You have to go back and make sure that the first tunnel doesn't fall and the next and the next and the pumps and the fans and the muckers and the lights and the drills and the rail and the etc., etc., etc. Then a government agency comes along and decides that plate spining is too dangerous and makes all of your plates wobble and crash. Then they threaten you with jail and tell the grand jury that it was your fault that the plates crashed because you shouldn't have been spinning plates in the first place.
As for ore, Lets put it in NRA terms. God instructed his angels to use pump-action shotguns loaded with gold dust on selected areas of Earth. Not wanting to be left out of all the fun, God decided to cruise by in his "Heavenly Battleship." God took aim on a spot (now known as Alleghany, CA) with sixteen inch and 40mm guns loaded with golden projectiles. Needless to say, those projectiles are harder to find than the gold dust in other areas fired from the shotguns (metaphorically speaking). But, when you do... Yeh-Hah!!! It is more than just finding gold.

(The views of this independant mine owner are not necessarily that of the Sixteen to One management, miners or stockholders).
 By SCOOP

08/04/2005  11:14AM

Development at Alleghany. [Colorado Capital plans big operations.] June 13, 1909- L.A. Times

Alleghany (CA) June 10- with $100,000 immediately available and backed by a group of the largest Colorado capitalists, L. E. Woodbury, manager of the Rainbow and Red Star mines, has arrived from Denver to push developments on a vastly augmented scale. The Rainbow ten-stamp mill will soon be in commission. The 2000-foot main tunnel pushed ahead, a north drift run to cut the wonderful Sixteen-to-one vein. And it is expected that the tunnel will shortly intersect the great tightner ledge. The working force has been increased and the thirty-inch bonanza shoot recently opened, will be thoroughly exploited. The main tunnel is going forward steadily and much new territory is being opened. Fully 5000 tons of rich ore are blocked in the Red Star and much bonanza quartz is being sacked for shipment. The vein continues thirty inches wide, values from $100 to $50,000 per ton.
Aside from the natural interest the famous Sixteen-to-one, attention is concentrated on the celebrated Tightner where the lower adit is expected to reach the lower ledge within a few days. If the strike comes up to expectations, managing owner, H. L. Johnson declares that the Tightner will at once leap into the front rank of California gold producers. It has already produced in excess of $1,800,000 from the upper workings and indications point to the continuance of the great ore shoot with depth. The tunnel is in over 3800 feet, but progress has been slow, owing to the excessively hard rock encountered.
The Sixteen-to-one, Morning Glory, El Dorado, Bonanza King, and several others continue splendidly with increasing developments. The ore bodies are holding out excellently and give every promise of depth. The St. Elmo and Gold Canon have been taken by eastern capitalists and will be vigorously exploited. The Kenton and other properties, operated by Los Angeles capitalists, also show excellently. It is reported that George Wingfield is still after control of several properties in the district.
While the Alleghany ores carry fabulous values, they do not mill well and, except the Rainbow, none of the other mines are in the position to treat their products. The ore is hauled to Nevada City by teams, and thence sent to the Selby Smelter by rail, naturally at considerable expense. The Red Star is installing a testing mill and as soon as the best method has been determined, several works will probably be erected. The presence of powerful Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Goldfield capitalists is a guarantee that the mines will not suffer for want of milling facilities. In other mother lode counties mines are in full blast.
Southern Californians in the Blue Ledge copper district, Siskiyou County, are opening excellent properties, and recent developments indicate that as soon as the copper market sufficiently improves, the Blue Ledge will rank next to the Shasta belt. At the Blue Ledge mine, large reserves of excellent grade copper have been developed with a smelter installed; the company would be in a position to produce on a large scale. The St, Albans, Bloomfield, Joe Creek, Medford, Copper King and numerous others are also showing well. Several eastern, British and Spokane people are interested. The chief drawback of the district is the lack of adequate transportation facilities.


FAKERS-GET BUSY
The remarkable series of strikes in this district has led to the attempts of near-by sections to attract coveted attention from the mining men sojourning here. Reports of fabulous strikes are being freely circulated which in fact, have no foundation. Many so-called mining men in adjacent sections would like to emulate the tactics of the wild-casters. Even here attempts are being made to dispose of properties at fabulous prices, when their sole merit is that they are located near some of the famous ones. Such efforts do not meet the approval of the leading mining or business elements and the inquiring stranger is quickly undeceived if he takes the trouble to investigate before taking hold of the numerous chances offered.
NUMEROUS PROPERTIES
The heirs of the Gilbert estate of Santa Barbara are steadily pushing work on the Lecompton mine in Nevada City and the Norambagua at Grass Valley. The Lecompton has been practically unwatered and active developments will be shortly commenced in the lower levels. This property has an excellent productive record. At the Norambagua, considerable new machinery includes an air compressor and drills, has been installed. This mine has produced over $1,000,000. The Dana Mining Company of Tonopah is actively at work at the Dana and Christopher Columbus claims at Grass Valley and is opening a strong body of excellent grade milling ore. This property adjoins the famous Idaho-Maryland mines which have produced over $16,000,000 and again are in operation on a large scale.
The Butte Creek dredge is operating very satisfactorily at full capacity and handling an immense amount of gravel said to show splendid values on Butte Creek. The largest boat, the Marigold fleet’s No. 2 was launched June 5. This is of the same type as the bid machines in the Folsom fields and when completed will have cost $200,000. It will handle approximately one-third more gravel than any dredger now in commission in the Yuba district. The J.H. Legget Co. at Oroville is constructing another large machine and the Indians dredge, wrecked by floods last winter, has again been placed in commission.
Advances from Oroville state that S.E. Churchman and followers have not abandoned the fight against Stelfer Mining Company. The non-suit was granted on the grounds that Churchman failed to advance proof to substantiate his allegations against the Selfers. Churchman’s attorneys argue that the case was conducted irregularly.
STRIKERS LEAVING
Everything is quiet in Amador County and it is evident that the strike is completely broken. Threats did not frighten companies into employing the ringleaders, and many of the latter have left for other parts. It will likely be long before the Mother lode Districts are again affected by strikes. More conservative men have taken the lead of the unions and every attempt to foster trouble has been promptly repressed. As a result, operations are again at full blast.
The 3500-foot shaft at the Kennedy is being deepened and the 100-stamp mill kept at work. The South Eureka and Central Eureka are operating steadily and the Zella, Argonaut, Fremont, Bunker Hill, and other large mines are working on old time lines.
 By SCOOP

07/05/2005  2:37PM

Recently rediscovered historical article, part of a series. Scoop will be posting one per week for the next several weeks.For a printable version, go to 'The Mine' section of this website.

MINES AND MINING—Activities in the ore districts of the Southwest
Oct. 24, 1909
Bonanza find at Forest City
South fork finds Alleghany veins’ extension?

Grass Valley (cal.) Oct. 22- The discovery of Bonanza ore in the South Fork mine in Forest city is considered one of the greatest strikes ever made in this district, and if the vein ultimately proves to be the great Tightner ore body, as everything indicates, it will mean the development of a giant property. The South Fork is owned by Los Angeles people and work has been moving ahead for several months under the management of Fred W. Kuhnfeld. The tunnel has been crowded ahead for over a mile and several promising ledges intersected. But the last find is far and away the greatest ever made in this section. The extent of the vein is still undetermined but it is known to be several inches wide with very high values. The ore is identical with that found in the Tightner and other Alleghany properties, containing free gold and arsenical sulphurets. Forest is just across a range of hills from Alleghany and it is considered that the strike in the South Fork demonstrates that the veins of Alleghany strike across the hills to the Forest district. The management is pushing development and, if the find continues to show as well as at present, shipping will soon be under way, the same people are developing a number of other claims in the district, with encouraging results.
The Rainbow mine at Alleghany recently cut a bonanza shoot and is sending out high grade. It is reported that arrangements will be made with G.M. Taylor, who recently jumped the Rainbow tunnel, whereby the company will be enabled to resume extensive work through the adit. The Red Star mill is running on good ore. A large number of claims are receiving attention, but the trouble between the leading companies is greatly holding back the district. With the Sixteen to One, Bonanza King and other mines tied up by litigation, with no early prospect of settlement, with the Rainbow handicapped by the loss of it’s tunnel, and with winter at hand, Alleghany is not reflecting the activity that characterized it a few months ago. The miners appear to be all right, but the tactics of the warring owners militate against advancement.
GRASS VALLEY
The Grass Valley district continues to maintain its’ position as the premier quartz gold producer in the state. The North Star Mines Company is producing at the rate of $180,000 per month with eighty stamps in commission. Extensive work is going on below the 4000 level, where the six-foot vein is running about $12 per ton. At the Empire, sinking is about to commence from the 3500 level. The two Mammoth electric pumps have been placed in commission and everything is in readiness for rapid work. The Dana Company has resumed work with a small force of men. The Brunswick shaft is progressing steadily, but it will be several months before any depth will be attained. The Kenosha continues to intersect small high-grade bodies with the shaft going down steadily. The Pennsylvania, Sultana, Idaho-Maryland, and several other properties are producing steadily. The deal for the Eureka has not yet been consummated, but it is reported that it will be carried through in the near future.
SIERRA COUNTY
The important deals are pending in Sierra County, and will probably be consummated before the end of the month. Eastern capitalists are examining the Brush Creek mine and express themselves well pleased with the property. The Brush Creek has a good productive record. But disagreements between stockholders led to its closing. The property is located near the Kate Hardy, where a bonanza strike was recently made. An English syndicate headed by W.A. Wood of London, is negotiating for the Phoenix mine near Sierra City. The Phoenix is a low-grade proposition with immense bodies of such ore to be developed and equipped with a stamp mill. The English capitalists already control the Four Hills and Bunker Hill mines, in the Sierra City district, and are well pleased with the success that has attended their efforts.
PLACER COUNTY
The Ophir district, Placer County, is attracting considerable attention. Operations are to be resumed immediately at the famous Hathaway by a strong company. This was formerly one of the great producers of central California. Work will be prosecuted on an extensive scale. At the Crater, new machinery is being installed and operations conducted systematically. It is reported, that the Crandall has been sold to Colorado capitalists for a large consideration. A number of other properties are receiving attention with several showing well. In the Michigan Bluff section W.H. Fletcher and associates of Los Angeles and Pasadena are preparing for extensive work at the Home Ticket and other properties. These mines are well-known producers and have a bright future.
EL DORADO COUNTY
Articles of incorporation of the El Dorado consolidated mines companies have open filed with the County Clerk of El Dorado County. The capital stock has also been increased from $500,000 to $ 750,000. The company is organized under the laws of Nevada and is composed of Nevada, San Francisco, and southern California people. It is empowered to engage in all kinds of mining as well as other lines, such as the operation of power plants, railways, ect. The company expects to operate a number of properties in El Dorado and is arranging to secure numerous holdings.
SHASTA COUNTY
The Stauffer Chemical Company has landed the celebrated Oro Fino mine, near Shasta, for $10,000 and will at once commence active work. The ore holdings of this mine carry an excellent gold percentage and give excellent signals of continuing to great depth. The Mammoth Copper Company is continuing to spend………..(illegible text)………. -The Bullychoop is about to resume with a large force of workers. This is considered one of the promising properties of the county and has produced considerable gold. The time for the expiration of the truce between the farmers and the smelter operators is rapidly approaching. The Mammoth and Balaklala companies have experts on the plants and botanists in the field. It is expected that the latter will show that much of the damage in the trees has been caused by the neglect of the farmers properly to prune and spray them. November 1, when the truce comes to an end, promises to be an interesting day in the Shasta copper belt.
CALAVERAS COUNTY
The Reiner mine, near Angels Camp, has entered the bedrock in the ancient channel and has opened an excellent body of pay gravel. Pannings thus far have exceeded the expectations and the outlook for excellent production is good. Many southern Californians are interested in the company, which has expended a large amount of money in developing and equipping the property. The Calaveras Copper Company, which recently acquired the Union, mines at Copperopolis, is arranging to commence extensive operations. The smelter and concentrator can easily handle 1,500,000 pounds of copper per month. The Utica, Lightner, Melones, Etna King, and numerous other gold mines are producing steadily. No further talk is heard regarding rumored later troubles.
MONO, ALPINE, INYO.
The announcement by senator Newlands of Nevada to the effect that the Virginia and Truckee Railroad will be extended into Mono, Alpine, and Inyo counties has been halted with joy by mining men in these districts. All that has held back splendid districts in these counties has been the lack of transportation facilities, and with the advent of the Virginia and Truckee the greatest boom in the history of these counties will be inaugurated. Connections will be made with the Bodie and Benton and Tonopah and Goldfield lines. A large number of promising Nevada districts will also be opened by the line.
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
The farmers of Contra Costa County have requested the supervisors to pass an ordinance against the Mountain Copper Company’s smelter at Martinez, alleging that the escape of fumes is damaging orchards and farms. The board has promised to take steps in the matter, but it is probable that the plants will be incorporated in the expansion plans of the town of Martinez, which will block the plans of the complainants. Considerable bitterness has been aroused by the plan, the farmers maintaining that the town of Martinez will not seek to prevent the escape of the destroying fumes. Accordingly they have filed a protest of the annexation of additional territory by the town. It is unlikely that the protest will be heeded.
 By Michael Miller

04/20/2005  9:57PM

Tomorrow is John Muir’s birthday. His image has been included on the US quarter for the state of California. He is cited as a great and perhaps the first environmentalist. If you want to read something about John Muir rarely written, it is on this web site, somewhere, but I cannot remember where. If you find it, Please make an entry here with the path to find it from Home Page.

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