May 27, 2017 

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Clips from Alleghany


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 By fredmcain

04/11/2017  11:17AM

Mike and "Scoop",

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever. The 16 to 1 has some very dedicated people at all levels. That's one reason that I have faith in this enterprise.

One day, one fine day, you will all be "discovered" and rewarded as well for all your efforts.

Keep the faith !

Fred M. Cain

03/31/2017  12:39PM

Winter’s waning days plummeted Alleghany with water. Snow or rain makes little difference with temperatures being warmer than long historical averages. For most folks, wet land, high winds and tree covered properties brought hardships as roots of the towering pines and firs eroded. Coupled with the bark beetle infestation throughout the Sierra Nevada, our landscape is very different from a year ago. Trees are down everywhere.

But what about those underground miners? Did they have problems? If you’ve been underground in the Sixteen to One or similar gold mines, you know the temperature stays about the same (fifty degrees) winter or summer, day or might. This is a real plus on knowing how to dress. A miner needs a very simple or regular wardrobe. Our guys in Alleghany had a big time problem with the water this month. They needed rain coats.

The Sixteen is a combination of many mines. About thirty-five miles of tunnels extend under Alleghany. This creates a big collection box for surface water. This winter the creek (Kanaka Creek) that flows through the mine property was so high it backed up and flowed into the mine. Since adits are driven slightly uphill, water didn’t travel deep into the mine, but it sure was different.

So, the big collection box and surface water did impact the mine’s operation. Miners constructed as many channels above the discharge point (portal) into Kanak Creek to get water out of the underground without pumping. All other water underground must be raised by pumping. The crew told Scoop repeatedly that the underground tunnels, stopes and raises looked like rivers: water running where it was never seen before. Not all of it could be removed with gravity alone, putting more pressure on pumping.

If you are still following Scoop’s report, guess what came next. Pause while you figure it out.

The pump quit pumping is what happened next. Pumps are electric powered. This one is a high horse power, three phase, 480 volts and a long way from the portal and a longer way down to water level. If you’ve ever tried to fix something that quit, you know that most times you should change one potential source of the problem at a time, unless the problems are obvious. The problem was not obvious.

The disconnect problem could be within the two thousand feet of wire, the power supply. It could be in one of four necessary metal circuit/ starter/safety boxes. It could be the pump motor or even the multistage pump itself. One by one Reid and Danny worked through the system searching for the flaw. During this period the water continues to rise, of course. Before the problem the water level lapped a wooden deck just above the 1700 level: great progress over six months of pumping. The ultimate destination is the three thousand level. (No one alive has been on the three thousand level. No metal detector has sung on the three thousand level.) Mike and the miners want to change this.

Yesterday, you could see the water a couple of yards below the 1500 level, quite a loss of ground. Noon yesterday, after a pow wow of pump speculations, two choices remained as the most likely fix: the motor or the pump stages were compromised, thus binding the motor. (All pump systems have a safety reset button, like the one on your garbage disposal.) At last everything that could be wrong up to the pump itself was working… the reset button held open. At 2pm Reid and Danny headed into the mine and down to where the pump was tied out of the water. Not much space available to work on the pump, barely enough for the two of them. Reid told Scoop, “We have all the tools we need. A back up motor is already down there, so let’s change it and hope it works.”

Scoop is walking the dog about 8am this morning and the Sixteen to One mine truck stops with Reid and Danny inside. They seem out early driving here. They also seem whipped. Scoop thinks, the fix didn’t work so what’s next? No, changing motors did work. The pump is doing its thing again. The water level is receding, but where are they going at this hour? They stare at Scoop. “We’re going home. It took all night but we got it done.”
These boys, all this crew, will see that three thousand level some day. Scoop places his bet on it.

02/09/2017  4:15PM

If you live in Northern California you are very familiar with what Scoop writes now: rain, more rain and rain melting a lot of snow. Area dams are at or nearing capacity with weather projections for storms through Saturday. This morning a new slide closed Highway 49 near the South Fork Yuba River Bridge. It is a big one. Expect closure estimates range from two days to a long time. Trees are uprooted everywhere. Last storm knocked out electrical power for a couple of days and phone lines out almost a week.

Here’s the exciting news: Kanaka Creek is raging. The creek water is higher than the Twenty One portal; so creek water is flowing into the mine. Mike picked up a hundred sand bags and the miners will block the water before it flows down an old raise. The pumps aren’t keeping up with increased water seepage that cannot be diverted out the drain tunnel. This is a first anyone knows, where the creek flowed into the mine. This weather beats the 200 year flooding of 1996-97.

Twenty three Northern Cal counties are declared red alert for flooding. Oroville Dam (about forty miles north of Alleghany) has a serious issue. Water going over the spillway eroded chucks of concrete. People saw chunks flying away and notified the govt.

Water is diverted above the dam (earth filled) but still more water is flowing in than is released. A radio report assured everyone downstream not to worry. The water engineers are looking into the issue. This dam is the tallest dam in USA and stores 3.5 million acre feet of water. An acre foot equals 325,851 gallons. In other words, the govt. news release means: don’t worry folks living downstream from the dam. (Right!)

Pack the car, honey; gather the pets and be ready to boogey!



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PO Box 909
Alleghany, California 95910

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