January 15, 2021 

How to Approach Thin Veins & Cost


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 By David I

05/20/2013  11:58AM

May be the Couger was looking for a place to have cubs. I recommend that you set a trap for the cat with live bait type of trap with a cage containment. It would have to be well built.
 By cw3343

05/20/2013  10:09AM

You better add that to the disclaimer/waiver for the shareholder meeting - ha ha!!
 By cw3343

05/20/2013  10:07AM

how far back in was the print?

How disconcerting would it be if you were in there and all of a sudden you heard a hail of gunfire from someone blasting away at a couger? No thank you!!
 By fredmcain

05/20/2013  9:11AM

This is most interesting. We had some discussion on another mining forum I belong to over a video about a boy’s dog which was killed in a "haunted" mine in Colorado.

The video itself can be seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrwODmfvSdg (copy and paste to your browser)

I posed the theory on the forum that the most logical answer to this "haunted mine" mystery was that the dog was probably lured deeper into the mine and then killed either by a lion or some other very large cat.

The responses I got back stated that a cat would not be too likely to be found deep in the mine like that where the darkness is total. But now, staff members from the Original Sixteen To One Mine have clear proof that it *IS* possible to have a large cat in the deeper recesses of the mine.

How in the world could they possibly see? I don’t know. Cats have wonderful night vision but they still need at least some light to see. And yet, somehow, the cat managed to avoid the pool of standing water. Most baffling! I think this is just plain a real mystery!

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

05/20/2013  4:33AM

Thanks ever so much for the picture of rail maintenance in the 2012 annual report! I don’t know if you did that partly with me in mind or if it was a pure coincidence but whatever the case, I really appreciated it!

Martin Newkom posed the following question on another thread:
"I read the topic of ‘rails in the mine’. What might be the significance of that requirement?"

I would like to respond to that here and provide some of my own thoughts. What is the significance of rails in mines? I have been loosely studying rail transportation most of my life and I have some ideas I’d like to contribute. It is a proven fact that steel wheel-on-rail technology can move something heavy or a large volume of something much more easily and consume much less energy doing it than rubber tires can.

Studies have shown that it takes anywhere from three to four times as much energy to move something using rubber tires than it does with steel wheels. One American railroad likes to tout their efficiency by saying that based on ton miles their diesel locomotives get 450 miles per gallon! O.K., maybe they’re stretching things just a bit to garner some publicity but I think we can see their point.

In western Australia, one large mining company actually built a long, brand new railroad completely from scratch in order to haul iron ore from that country’s interior out to the seaport. A similar line operates in South America. These lines carry staggering loads that boggle the mind. Using trucks to do the job would not even be a remote option.
So, if the use of rail is so much more efficient, why are so many underground mines turning to rubber tired trucks and "LHD’s"? I believe for the same reason that so many Americans turned away from public transportation and instead prefer to use their own automobiles. In two words: convenience and flexibility. It’s not that the LHD’s are necessarily more economical, just more flexible. If economics is a mine’s primary concern and if the mine is satisfied with the more limited flexibility of rail, then they should, by all means, stick with rail as the Original Sixteen To One is doing. That certainly make sense to me.

Then finally, although of secondary importance, there is the historical significance of using rail. Just as you might not want to convert San Francisco’s cable cars to modern buses, perhaps there is an historic purpose for ore cars and rail in historic underground mines as well.
Those are my musings on the subject.

Oh, and as one last "P.S.", I’d like to ask everyone on our forum to watch this video again if you haven’t seen it in a while: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DZDQysk2XA

(You have to "copy and paste" the web address to your browser to play it). Somewhere near the end there is a brief scene of some workers moving what looks like a *HUGE* boulder in an ore car. It seems to roll so effortlessly. To me, this is a good illustration of what rail can do. Could an LHD do this? Sure, but you’d need a bigger (and probably more expensive) engine! As an aside, I just *LOVE* the "Ragtime" guitar pickin’ at the beginning!

Fred M. Cain

05/18/2013  2:07PM

Bewilderment? Concern? Fear? Disbelief?

What would your thoughts be if you were a miner deep in the mine on the 1100 foot level and you found a lion’s footprint?

It happened yesterday. Also a garbage can on the 1000 foot level was knocked over. Coincidence? Except for a few scattered lights, the underground is more than dark; it is a blackout environment. How did the print get there?

Mike phoned the California game warden this morning, a man knowledgeable about California mountain lions. Should the miners start packing guns? Do we need a permit to shoot a lion?

No one can remember seeing lion tracks deep in the mine or even near the portal. Why would a lion go there? Was it lost? Was it looking for a place to have some babies? When it gets hungry what is there to eat besides a miner?

The warden said that deer is the preferred meal for mountain lions. They do not eat dead food, so the trash can was not a target for food. They don’t like people, so make noise and stand up because they like to jump on the backs of deer and break their necks with a front leg while biting the neck. (This will really make the miners feel comfortable). A lion will kill about two deer a week, eat all they want at the time and go away.

Joseph found the track and took a picture. He said the animal knew what it was doing because it walked around a puddle instead of walking straight through it. Scoop hopes to get the picture and Mike wants an expert to determine the owner. Joseph wants to leave the mine or pack iron.

The warden said he can call a man who has dogs trained to smell lion. Mike said all we need are a pack of dogs searching the mine, probably getting lost in the process. The dogs have radio collars, but the signal will be hard to track. Maybe the dogs could come up and sniff around the portals. If they get a positive sniff, we could take the next step. The warden didn’t think the dog owner would agree to turn his pals loose in the mine. Mike agrees.

How is this situation left? Don’t know.
 By fredmcain

05/06/2013  4:24AM


Thanks for your response! I'm glad to hear you're committed to keeping your railway! Great news! Although, actually, I realize that you have alluded to that before but I was still glad to hear you reiterate that.

On the other hand, I am bitterly disappointed to learn that the Idaho-Maryland project is dead. Disappointed indeed but hardly surprised. I first read about this project several years ago in the Wall Street Journal. According to the WSJ's take on it at the time, local citizenry was already doing everything humanly possible to stop the project. So, like you said, there is enough blame to go around for everyone. Perhaps EmGold didn't quite dot all their i's and cross all there t's either. Too bad. Perhaps someday mining will resume there in "a new form" like you suggested but the trouble is, the longer time goes by, the more everything will continue to deteriorate. So perhaps it will never happen at all. One can well imagine that an open-pit mine in the area would go over like a lead balloon. Oh well, maybe the loss of that resource will only serve to help make the gold in the Alleghany district more valuable!

Fred M. Cain
 By Michael Miller

05/04/2013  6:06PM

Emgold’s relationship with the Idaho-Maryland is dead according to the Grass Valley, California Planning Department. Time ran out for meeting the scheduled fees and other paperwork to maintain the permit application. For Emgold to represent progress with permitting let alone future mining ventures at the venerable gold mine, it must submit a new application.

There are numerous reasons why not a gallon of water from the flooded underground workings occurred over the past 25 years. Blame is not difficult to assess. Emgold, governmental regulators and the public all share the in the final outcome. The project is not in real trouble as the source you cite said. It is dead! If mining in Grass Valley should rise as the great ancient Phoenix, its rebirth will be in a new form.

Original Sixteen to One Mine will continue its operation as a small rail operator. Why? It is proven be the best economic system to succeed. Those who think otherwise have failed so far and have no record of success to champion their conduct. Your tongue is safe from a bite.
 By fredmcain

05/03/2013  9:58AM

I have recently obtained some additional information regarding "mines with tracks". I have attempted to contact Sutter Gold several times regarding the reopening of their Amador Mine and asked them if they intended to use conventional ore cars and tracks in the mine. They have not responded although I couldn’t see any tracks in the video that was run on Fox News.

However, I have received responses back from Shasta Gold and EmGold. Shasta Gold is in the process of reopening the Washington Mine and is currently doing exploration. Their correspondent told me that they are currently using rubber-tired front end loaders and "trucks" but have plans to add rail and ore cars in the future. Interesting.

The correspondent from Emgold told me they plan to use a combination of trackless mining as well as rail-based mining with ore cars and locomotives in their reopened Idaho-Maryland Mine. I thought that was good news, too, but unfortunately, he also told me that the Idaho-Maryland project might be in real trouble. If they are not able to complete the necessary permitting soon, EmGold might walk away from the project and concentrate on exploration in Nevada and Canada. That does not sound very encouraging to me.

Finally, I would like to mention a rather intriguing and possibly disturbing theory that I have come up with. Trackless mines demand very large, immense drifts and passageways to allow their rubber-tired vehicles to negotiate and pass each other – much larger, in fact, that in traditional tracked mines like the Original Sixteen To One. My disturbing theory is simply this: Could the large drifts in trackless mines be at least partially implicated in the incidents of catastrophic “rock bursts”? Surely rock bursts are an issue in traditional, tracked mines as well but is the likely hood of having a devastating rock burst increased by going trackless?

I posed this question on another mining forum I belong to and one responder told me that is possible, yes. There was a devastating “rock burst” in the trackless portion of Hecla’s Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho a few years ago that resulted in the most unfortunate loss of several souls. Was the trackless mine partly to blame? Obviously I don’t know and don’t mean to insinuate that but I’m not sure that anybody knows for sure. I’m just wondering; that’s all.

This does, however, provide us with some food for thought. Could it just be that maybe some of those “Old Timers” really knew what they were doing with their tracks and ore cars?

In any event, it is my sincerest hope that the Original Sixteen To One Mine will stick with their traditional cars and tracks if for no other reason that it seems to be historically appropriate. Transforming the "oldest functioning gold mine in California" into a trackless mine just wouldn’t seem right. Of course, if going trackless would help ensure the survival of the mine then perhaps I might wince, bite my tongue, and bless that after all.

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

04/15/2013  9:18AM


Here is another interesting piece of info on mine tracks that I found. This is a link to Majestic’s website. Majestic apparently sells both new and used rail for the railroad industry and specializes in rails for the mining industry.

Here is their URL:


Unfortunately, they don’t post their prices online; you have to contact them for a quote. Since I don’t actually have a mine myself, I didn’t want to waste their time.

It is probably a fact that most people on this forum are already aware of this outfit but I just thought it couldn’t hurt to post this just in case.

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

04/12/2013  4:55AM


It sounds to me like you have a rather interesting and ambitious project cooking. My dream, if I can achieve it, is to make a trip out to California sometime this summer to take a tour the Original Sixteen To One Mine. If time would allow, I’d love to see your operation too!

I very deeply appreciate your offer to fetch me at Colfax. Unfortunately, my issue is going to be in getting from Grass Valley or Nevada City to Alleghany since I do not drive an automobile. Kinda like the old Melanie song from long ago, "I gotta brand new pair of roller skates", "...for someone who can’t drive I been all ‘round the world". Anybody on the forum remember THAT song? That kinda fits me too. I suspect I can probably find a taxi or something to take me out there but it ain’t gonna be cheap! Plus, I don’t know what a taxi driver is gonna say about driving up that road! It’s not paved, is it?

I don’t know how complex or extensive you plan your operation to be but I would still strongly urge you to consider adding rail. The rubber tired ore car might be O.K. as long as you remain small but if you have to start pulling a lot of rock out of the mine I think you might find rail more satisfaction. What is it that’s become so expensive, anyways, is it the ore cars themselves or the rails? If it’s mostly the high cost of steel in the rails, you might be able to find used rails in abandoned mines. There are abandoned mines all over the West that still have tracks in them and I would almost bet the farm that in many cases the owners of these mines would be willing to sell you the rails for a few pennies on the dollar. Shoot! In some cases the owners might not even realize the tracks are still in there! The issue would be transportation to Alleghany. Rails are not light and would need to be trucked to your site.

Just for Kicks and Cheerios, here is a link to a site that is still in the business of building ore cars for both decorative use as well as active use in mines:

http://www.orecars.com/industrial-ore-cars.html One thing I’d like to note is that Web URL’s will not "highlight" on our forum so you have to copy and paste them to your browser.

My e-mail address is fredmcain@bringbackroute66.com
Anybody on the forum is more than welcome to e-mail me if they like.

Fred M. Cain
 By Big Al

04/11/2013  10:32PM

The ore car, was wood, with Iron straps holding it together. Big Al
 By Big Al

04/11/2013  10:29PM

Hi Fred. the cost of rail has a lot to do with companies getting away from it. My partner and I are going to be mining up in the area of the 16 to one as soon as the snow melts enough we can get in. I am in the process right now of building a rubber tired ore cart, because of the cost of rail. On another subject, You were wondering about transportation from Colfax, Its possible I could meet you and get you over to Grass Valley where you can rent a car. I can also show you a ore car that had iron axles, wheels, and some iron straps. I pulled it out of one of our mines last fall. If you are interested post an email address and I will email you a picture of it. Big Al
 By fredmcain

04/09/2013  10:04AM

Although it is great to know that the Original Sixteen To One Mine is still making use of its historic underground railroad, why have so many mines distanced themselves from the use of tracks and ore cars in their mines?

Hecla’s huge silver mine, the Lucky Friday, is expanding to the 9,000-foot level. (Mind boggling). Although the older areas of the mine still have tracks, many of the newer areas of the mine – including the new 9,000 new level will not. This is typical.

I have a two-part theory as to why miners are getting away from rail that I’d like to share and hopefully get some feedback on. The first part of my theory says that the COSTS of manufacturing rail-based mining equipment have spiraled upward as the direct result of lower production and sales volumes. When manufacturers produce items in larger quantities, unit costs fall. When production volumes shrink, unit costs rise. The resulting rise in the costs of rail based equipment – the direct result of smaller volumes – in turned caused miners to lose interest in underground railways and look for cheaper alternatives. For some reason, the rubber-tired LHD's or "wart hogs" can probably be made cheaper in smaller quantities than rail-based equipment which demands larger quantities. Does this make sense? If it does then that brings me to the second part of my theory. Why the smaller volumes of rail equipment in the first place?

I am rapidly coming to believe that demand for rail-based mining equipment has declined because the mining industry in general has declined while underground mining particularly has precipitously declined. Why? When I was a kid growing up in Arizona in the 1960's, mining was the state’s largest industry and there were active mines all over the place. Today they are mostly closed. The same, sad situation has occurred all over the country. Why?

While reading through some of Michael Miller's old posts I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that state and federal governments hostile to the mining industry are killing it. Mining is just plain not considered to be "environmentally and politically correct" and many of the hostile government policies and regulations have disproportionately hurt underground mining. This is indeed a bitter irony since underground mining is probably the most environmentally friendly form of mining to begin with. Just witness the scandal over the waste water from The Sixteen To One Mine. This is beyond absurd. I’ll bet that waste water is safe enough to drink. I have personally seen in Arizona where local residents have dammed up adit portals of abandoned mines so that the water would back up and could be used to supply drinking water for nearby cabins. That’s right! Seen it with my own eyes!

I suspect that if the government would lighten up and let underground mines flourish again, we would witness a revival in the use of underground mining railroads and rail-based mining equipment as well. A good place to start would be the revision of the 1981 law that miners put properties back into their original condition after mining ceases. This law should NOT be applied to underground mines but limited to strip, pit and "mountaintop" mines. (Fortunately, the Sixteen To One predates 1981 so hopefully we’re in luck there). It would also be a big help if the government bureaucracies that oversee the mining industry would have qualified people working for them who knew what the heck they were doing.

In any event, it is my sincerest hope that the Sixteen To One will keep its historic railroad and even expand it when/if new shafts and drifts are ever opened.

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

04/03/2013  9:20AM


Thanks again for another kind and well-thought out response! You touched on a few things that I’d like to respond to. But first of all, I'd like to explain the nature of my interest. I have been a life-long railfan or "train buff" – whatever you want to call me. As you probably realize, there is a very fine line between railroading and mining. Obviously, you are doing both!

I belong to a number of mining forums and have brought your mine and your website to their attention. Earlier, on one of the forums, I had asked about the use of tracks and rail equipment in mines and was told that this is still being done but "only in the smaller mines". This is probably because smaller mines large enough to have graduated beyond wheelbarrows do not have the resources to build the very large drifts and passageways needed to accommodate the LCD's or "rubber-tired wart hogs" as I call them.

But, as the Moore article makes clear, the very largest mines are also using rail where long hauls and large volumes exist. So, it might actually be the middle-sized mines where the use of "wart hogs" has replaced rail. One issue I can see is that with fewer mines depending on rail, the manufacturers cannot mass produce rail equipment in the same, larger volumes like they did in the past. This, in turn, drives up unit costs and perhaps discourages some miners from considering rail. This is a most unfortunate development and I don't know what can be done to address that. Maybe it would help if our wonderful government would/could do more to encourage underground mining. At least that wouldn't hurt, huh?

Which brings me to the next thing you touched on, the social implications of the mining industry. There's an old quip that goes "if you've got it and it wasn't grown, it came from a mine". Well, maybe that's exaggerated a bit since petroleum and gas-related products actually come from wells but we get the idea. So, why do otherwise well meaning people mistreat the mining industry? Simple ignorance, I'm afraid. You are doing what you can to fight back and set the record straight and I surely appreciate that. People need to also be made aware that not all mines are owned by huge, multi-national corporations. I see what you are doing in Alleghany as akin to running a family farm with some hired help. I suspect that you have a wonderful life back in there in the midst of some beautiful country. I have ridden Amtrak over the Donner Pass Line many times, so I know what this area looks like.

Finally, on the polymer wheels you mentioned, my understanding or interpretation of the Moore article was that they are restricted to the locomotives. The tracks and the wheels on the cars are still steel. This is akin to Lionel putting rubber tires on their model train locomotives to gain traction. The big roads like the Union Pacific can't do that 'cause their engines are way too heavy so they rely on the use of track sand to gain traction.

In mines, the mining locomotives are much lighter so they are experimenting with polymer wheels to compensate for the lightness. The resistance in the polymer tires allows them to pull heavier loads on steeper grades. Or, at least, that was my understanding which could be mistaken. I guess we can try and get ahold of Moore and see if we can get some additional information.

You mentioned that the Moore article fails to discuss the process of laying rail. True, but here is a link to another online article I found, also British, that deals strictly with track:


It's 84 pages long and to be completely honest with you, Mike, I have yet to read through the entire piece. But there might be some information in there you can use.

In conclusion here, I would like to say that I would just love to come visit your mine. I would pay for the $600 tour in a heartbeat. I think I am also going to proceed with the stock purchase. You know, before my Mom died back in 2000, I used to make a couple of trips a year out to California. I wish now to high heaven I'd known about your operation back then. But we'll see. I have wanted to make another trip for years.

Thanks again for the correspondence and whatever you do, keep on diggin'!

Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, IN
 By Michael Miller

04/02/2013  1:57PM


The article you mentioned in International Mining (March 2012) is a most comprehensive explanation of underground rail haulage. For most users of rail over diesel haulage systems, their daily tonnage exceeds the annual tonnage mined at the Sixteen to One when it employed over 100 miners. The large scale miners just shake their heads and usually smile when they come to Alleghany and discover how we are exploiting our deposit. Many times I have heard the comment, “I didn’t know anybody still mined like this.” I smile back and say, “have you ever seen our gold?’’

After reading this article, my appreciation of the value mining brings to social humanity grew. The numbers are so huge! Still it boggles the mind why the mining industry is treated poorly by otherwise well-meaning people. The industrial revolution, the trip to the moon and the wild advances in recent communications depend on the mineral extraction industry. Our rail operation even though it has continued over 100 years is insignificant; but the scope of haulage systems I just read about is mind boggling.

The article touched on an idea that captured my interest years ago. Identifying the use of polymer wheels to reduce friction and wear has been on my mind for years as an improvement for underground haulage. What type of track is under those poly wheels?

The article fails to discuss the process of laying rail for these monster locomotives: types of ties, spikes, bending availability of new products (not the 20 pound twenty foot lengths we use) and costs. If a market developed for the small mines, polymer wheels and rail will be an improvement over iron. It depends on how the polymer track conforms to curves… we have many in our levels. An advantage for us is that plastics won’t affect metal detectors, which are important to the Sixteen to One.
 By fredmcain

04/02/2013  5:27AM


Oh, yes, I'm most definitely interested, that's for sure! First of all I would like to say that I am most happy to learn of your decision to stay with tracks. I think that is a very good idea if for no other reason that it is historically consistent and appropriate with your older and truly historic operation.

But the other thing is, I'm not completely convinced that all the enthusiasm in the mining industry for going "trackless" is well placed or at least not in every case. Perhaps there are instances where trackless mines make sense. But from what I can see, trackless mines that employ large, rubber-tired "wart hogs" to haul ore demand much larger drifts and passageways and consume much larger amounts of fuel.

About the only real advantage I can see for going trackless is that you do not have to make an initial investment in the track itself. But isn't track largely recyclable? So, I'm not sure.
From what I have been able to find, evidently there is still some interest in using tracks in large mines around the world. Here is a URL to an online article on the subject that I found here:


It is a British article but it still has some interesting information in it nonetheless. I hope that the Sixteen To One keeps it track system and expands it to new depths. I saw from your schematic that you are now down to around 3,000 feet. The Homestake Mine in South Dakota was down to 8,000 feet when it was closed and the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho is currently digging down to 9,000 feet. So, the Sixteen To One has a ways to go yet. It sounds to me like this mine has a bright future. Keep digging!

Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, Indiana
 By Michael Miller

04/01/2013  5:53PM

Response to Fred regarding mines with track:
Our deposit is best mined using 18 gauge rail. Over the years track size has varied. It is identified by weight: 12 pound, 16 pound, 20 pound. The number is the weight of three feet. Prices vary. Our favorite is 16 pound but no company is rolling 16 pound anymore. We buy 20 pound now. Sections of the mine have the other sizes.

Most underground engineers have decided to abandon the rail system. A limited number of small California mines are operating with rail. There are over thirty mines of levels, shafts and winzes in the Sixteen to One. While some advantages exist to quit using track, it remains the best method of mining this unusual gold deposit.

Fred, your entry will be moved to the FORUM topic,How to approach thin veins. Your interest is appreciated.
 By fredmcain

04/01/2013  5:20AM

Does the Original Sixteen to One Mine still use ore cars and railway tracks in the mines?

Are there any other mines in California still doing that?

Fred M. Cain
 By sambukhari

10/16/2012  11:15PM

The definitions of a word used in the general population and the same word is used sometimes differ miners. Exploration seems to work well for efforts to describe an activity ... to explore. In talc mining exploration aims to locate the presence of deposits and provides economic nature, shape and degree. Preliminary work in the mine exploration takes place along the strike and dip. This is done by disk, ups and downs. These openings follow the depositary both strike and dip. They are designed in such a way that makes use possibleness for mining exploration event that is favorable.

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