August 9, 2022 



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 By Michael Miller

12/18/2004  3:11PM

The ADIT Project is the construction of a new adit to intersect the famous Empire Mine shaft some 770 feet away. It is mining, and it is mining in the heart of Grass Valley. Morning Glory Gold Mines was awarded a $1,578,000 contract to build the adit. Once completed the public will be able to ride or walk the short distance to the shaft. It is paid with State money from a bond. The idea has been 15 years in its conceptual planning. The miners have struggled with State agents to make the finished product as historically accurate, as true to mining practices, safe for long time public use and easy to operate and maintain. Herein has developed some conflict in minor but significant areas. In today's world of outlandish complaints and fears propounded by some well meaning people and some purposely confrontational people , any project can be attacked at any time. The miners are expressing their professional opinions on specific concerns that may cost the State money in the future or even close the finished adit from public useage. Our intent has been to keep a low profile, which will change as the project advances. The State wants a high profile because it wants lots of visitors to come to this great California park.


Mining has resumed after a month long stop order issued by the State. When work was interrupted, the crew was shooting concrete onto wire mesh where the brow (contact point of tunnel and surface) was established. When the stop order was lifted, the crew fired up the air driven concrete pump and shot the area. The purpose is to hold the loose rock in place until metal or timber sets are installed. Well, the next day as the miners drilled a new round, the brow appeared unconsolidated so they took it down and started over. It is likely that during the delay the ground suffered from water and overall air slack, which is an ongoing issue underground and in surface excavations. As of Friday the brow is looking good and maybe we can establish a rhythm of the mining sequences of DRILL, BLAST and MUCK.

Last Thursday everything that had wheels got a flat tire. It’s no big deal but slowed progress. The site is coming together. An historian called and wanted to alert me to a small quartz vein that we are likely to cross. He wanted to know who gets the gold, if any. I do not know the answer, but it will be either the people of California or New Mont Mining Company. In any case we hope he is correct. We will know the answer by April.
 By Rick

11/16/2004  7:39PM

Scoop, can you clarify?

The Mountain Messanger's headline reads "Sierra Co. Outfit Trying to Mine Grass Valley."

Yet, as I understand it, this Sierra County outfit isn't contracted to mine the Empire, but far less: to rehabilitate the public access in the State Park.

Can you clarify?

I'm figuring some misinformed of those out there reading the headline might infer something bigger at work.

I'm actually sitting at wait, wondering who'll infer an alterior motive (which would be a shame.)

11/15/2004  1:48PM

Sierra Co. Outfit Trying to Mine Grass Valley
(Mountain Messenger, November 11, 2004)

GRASS VALLEY – If nothing else, Mike Miller has vision. Of course it must be said that when Miller’s vision and California’s bureaucracy collide, as they have been known to, there’s usually a good story coming up.

Miller, also the President of Alleghany’s Original Sixteen to One Mine, has contracted to construct an adit and drift to open the guts of the Empire Mine State Park to the public.

The drift will be some 700 feet long, and tie into the old workings, well above the water level of the mine which was last worked in 1956.

“I really wanted this to be done by local miners,” says Miller. “I see it as a monument to the local skills, talent and tenacity of local people that made this the Queen of all gold mines.

“I’m hoping every old timer who ever worked in this mine will come down to drill a round. This isn’t just a public works project, it’s the soul of the area.”

Miller and crew have more than a fiscal interest. Project Manager Billy Joe Van Meter’s grandfather worked at the Empire Mine until the War.

That interest, and the fact he was employing Sixteen to One miners for the job, explains why he approached the job as though it were a mine.

Of course a mine is usually personal property. A state park has a somewhat different view of holes poked into the public earth.

“Well, I’m beginning to see why outfits who bid on public projects bid so high, “Miller admits. “And I’m saddened by this. After all, it’s the public that loses.”

Miller’s newfound awareness came very early in the project. His bid of $1.6 million was nearly a half million dollars lower than his nearest competitor. That spread contributed to the difficulty he had getting insurance.

After overcoming the paperwork difficulties, Miller and crew were ready to start the job on July 12. It wasn’t supposed to take long.

“Hell, it’s a mine. It’s what we do. I had been figuring we’d be done in December.”

That was before the job-starting walk-through with parks officials.

“The first day, the very first day, they said, ‘oh, by the way, did we mention you can’t build here? We’ve had a complaint this ground is toxic.”

Although the ground had tested clean, it was a fight no one wanted, fearing the whole project would be jeopardized.

That ‘by the way’ set the project back three weeks.

“I’d planned on using the waste rock for the rail bed. Now we had to build a completely new approach and build the rail bed first, just to get our equipment in.”

That change of plan also increased the surface area that would be disturbed, triggering the need for additional permits.

“We’re doing this by the book. We’re not working; we’re waiting on the permits,” Miller explained.

“The Book” also calls for 30 pound rail with oversize ties quite close together.

“A lot of people here agree this isn’t consistent with a mine. I don’t know of a mine that uses more than 20 pound rail, with ties much further apart. It’s not realistic. But some things aren’t worth fighting, aren’t worth getting local people crosswise with the Sacramento people.”

The project seems to be a sitting duck for any who might want to cause trouble, either for Miller personally, for the mining industry, or for the Park.

“Somebody, and they won’t tell me who, called OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and said we weren’t safe. We shut down until they came out and inspected. They said ‘there’s nothing unsafe here,’ but it cost us more time.”

Van Meter is both amused and disturbed by concerns raised by officials.

“I’m not kidding you: they get out of the car, see a mud puddle and start taking pictures. It’s like they’ve never been off concrete before.”

There may be problems with unions. Various trades insist their people be employed, a fight Miller is willing to accept.

“Miners are craftsmen. They are necessarily journeymen tunnelers, electricians and carpenters. I’ll fight for the skills of the men who built this in the first place, and the guys who are working now to honor them.”

So far, only the surface has been scratched. Van Meter and Miller are both anxious to get underground and meet the old workings.

“Then, there’ll be something to see.”
 By Michael Miller

11/12/2004  9:27PM

This is the case of the Alleghany Mining District or the Grass Valley Mining District

To Continue……

So however I see myself, no one else will see me the same way. Just today, several things occurred that woke me to this reality. Everyone has their own perception and some have themselves for guidance. Here is one of those stories.

I called on Scott Robertson to see if he had some time this morning. A quick update on the mine and then to the focus of my calling was my premeditated agenda. How to best use the important but limited time plays in real time. A great community and worldwide asset is under utilized in Grass Valley. I have the friends and acquaintances to drive a new life into the Empire Mine. Scott can broaden the foundation.

It turns out that Scott needed an update on the Sixteen to One mine before I spoke about the Empire mine. Out of the greatest respect for California’s gold and America’s elite gold mines Scott should hear what I felt need to be said: no two mining districts carry the distinctions as claiming the most concentrated gold or the most productive gold producer and…

My crew is working two great mines. A very rare and never to occur again situation is at hand. We are gold miners who find, mine and sustain gold production for our existence. We are driving a new level into the heart of the mine at the Empire. I expect to hit a quartz vein in the cross cut. We will be in the hanging wall of the Empire vein system. It will cross over the shaft but still have enough backs to make it a prospect. At the Sixteen we are soon to raise in the area where we mined 1400 ounces in a couple of days. We will find and mine gold. Before the end of 2004, both headings will be underway.

This FORUM topic belongs to the Empire. She dominates. Anyone with questions or stories about her, write. I never would have thought to say this but she ranks with the Sixteen to One. I know Alleghany Mining District (AMD), intimately. I am learning the intimacy of the Grass Valley Mining District (GVMD). The beauty and skilled and careful execution of her miners exudes from its surface. The spirits give out gradually, so spending time at the mine adds to processing the exudations. We are thrilled to have the experience to mine the deposit again. It has been almost fifty years since miners warned, “Fire in the hole. Fire in the hole. Fire in the hole.” Three times for each blast continues to be the rule at the Empire. Two times for each blast is the rule at the Sixteen. Herein lies a problem. When the mining districts were formed, they established the first law and order social organization in the open California land. That is mining law and that is the law today.
 By Rick

10/31/2004  5:23PM

Please help me out here, Delta Keepers.

What are you suggesting that we "keep" by stopping Califoria history from debunking your axiom?
 By Michael Miller

10/30/2004  9:58PM

By fax, voice and the visit from Charlie, DPR has ordered all mining to stop. We are a few long tom holes away from our first round with a brow. The site was right and spirits were right also.

Worked ceased on October 29, 2004.

Neither DPR nor any other California State agencies broke any rules regulations or laws that apply to a filing of any notice associated with the project. Neither did Morning Glory Gold Mines. There is no lawful reason for anyone to disrupt our contract. Anyone in California can raise any issue; however when damages occur in the execution of our noble shared goals of sharing a miner’s life with the public in California's greatest gold mine, accountability is worth pursuing. The alleged non-profit California corporation that threatens to file a law suit is called Delta Keepers. It wants to pick public Californians pocket book. It bent its pick many times before in fron of the wise staff of water regulators. If the speaker for the Delta Keepers is consistent, both the State and the contractor should collect money by putting the guy in court and out of business. This non-profit knowingly set in motion false alarms.
 By Michael Miller

10/23/2004  10:15PM

I have not started a new topic heading in a long time. What does the title, "Empire Strikes Back" mean. Well I'm not sure either but plan to relate it to the project undertaken at the greatest gold mine in the United States. We miners are set to turn our summer work underground and begin mining a new tunnel in this historic mine. It is an honor to the miners spirit, which formed California into statehood in 1850. It is my priviledge to head this project. I have never felt the sense of responsibility to meld with our gold mining anscestors as my crew drives a tunnel to intersect a quartz vein that lies just forty feet below the surface. Conflicts and obstacles will ricochette:

So there is a ditch, dug by the Empire Mine, to drain the cyanide plant effluent and some guys decide to call it a creek. They get agitated when I correct them with the proper definition of this modest swale. It’s a ditch with little evidence of activity now that the cyanide plant is no longer running. It is not a creek and has no legal status to pretend to be one. Someone suggest calling in the department of fish and game to make the call. I shot that honestly mistaken notion that the fish guys were going to take control over ditches with no water flow or fish. Someone then said that if the fish regulators could not stop it, the water quality agents should take a look. I offer that neither agency had time and money to chase ideas that held no public benefit. Some qualified people sprinkle those agencies. They are in the minority, which makes their interference all the more important.

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