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 By Michael Miller

01/01/2020  6:22AM

For some spring sparks a desire to Spring Clean. For some the New Year makes an urge to purge old stuff, so the new can find a home. I felt this urge and found papers to burn, read again and many to let stay for another day. J. Smith is a man who befriended me forty years ago, long gone now. We got to know each other because of a mutual love of mining in the Sixteen to One. In the late 30’s or early 40’s, he worked the mine, full of pee and vinegar and youth. Although his time as a miner was limited, its impact was profound. He became a great writer.

J. Smith sent me Christmas cards regularly and occasional letters. Fifteen or so years ago he sent me a note: “Mike, Just ran onto this old piece of memory, and thought you might like it. JS”. Well, I did like it for its clarity about working underground and honesty. Enjoy:

Christmas? I have heard of it when I was just a boy,
But now I’m old, I work too hard to really feel the joy
Of giving gifts, receiving them, of hearing sleigh bells ring,
Or learning songs of Christmas for I’ve forgotten how to sing.
I work down in a gold mine a half a mile or so,
I keep no track of time or life as the ore skips come and go.
I hear no bells of Christmas, jackhammers dull my ears.
I think of friends and family and blink away the tears.
The only light I see down here is the miners carbide lamp
And weak it is this far below where it is cold and damp.
We blast, we mick, we tram and dump and do our level best,
We work our shift and only think of quitting time and rest.
When lunchtime comes I cannot help the loneliness I feel,
For there alone upon a rock I eat my Christmas meal.
 By Michael Miller

12/24/2019  8:06AM

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 and several others continue splendidly with increasing developments. The ore bodies are holding out excellently and give every promise of depth. Others 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.
 By Michael Miller

12/02/2019  8:43AM

Written September 2, 2011 presented unedited. Do these observations have relevance today?


Dear REAP (see below),


A modest mining man has the answers to your questions, many of which are scattered throughout this FORUM in almost every topic on the FORUM and headings listed to your left. Let’s begin with the first question, “What has been the response to this situation in Sierra County?” Growing interest based on phone calls, traffic in the mining areas and correspondences.

In California the response seems to be wonderment as to why the hills aren’t alive with the sounds of music from air compressors and happy workers; however everyone is scared away by the threat of lawsuits or time delay in beginning production.

No signs of new investment can be found. Every now and then people with an interest materialize. None have conducted a thorough inquiry.

Varied and detailed development plans based on history, geology and the present are published on this web site, well thought out and designed to “Get as much product to market as fast as possible”. Others may have plans also.

Significant consolidations of mines in the Alleghany Mining District occurred. Large companies fail to recognize the benefits from investment in small vein, underground, high-grade gold mines. Frankly, these operations are not suited for their corporate style.

Ah, the culture of “Crystal Ball” exercises about gold, a favorite or up-and-coming pastime of those who mine, those who wish and those who dream; sometime (rarely) someone does all three. You ask about the future structure of mining in the county. The structure will be similar to those that have taken place for 150 years: one company dominates (that company has changed over time); partnerships will form (General and Limited); associations may give it a try (most will fail); stock promotion companies will sneak into the county (most will fail); some really smart businessmen with the spirit and understanding risk/reward ventures may make an important contact and conduct his or her “due diligence”. (This would be refreshing.)

However, California has festering inside its governmental bowels some misinformed career employees that continue on a path of destruction for gold mining and other natural resource extraction industries. They are succeeding, which frightens away one of three ingredients for success in mining gold. The Central Valley water board staff currently leads a list that has hurt Californians much more than people realize. Tied for second are the “Attorney General” staff and the staff of the department of conservation.. They have swarmed like flies on shit. Instead they should be embracing all serious programs to utilize California’s splendid natural resources. They could be swarming like bees on honey. All Californians would reap the benefits of Sierra County’s gold.

I do not have a crystal ball to gaze into and see the future. I do run a gold mining company. I know that the future of Sierra County, California and the United States is understanding the past in tandem with predicting the future. Gold’s historical truth in social and cultural evolutions is undeniable. Like gold, truth lies at the bottom. One company may overcome the obstacles in Sierra County and California. It has an unusual name, Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. I have a personal stake in its welfare and treatment. A litigious government, working to selectively enforce and selectively prosecute any person or entity is at work in Sierra County to destroy this company. The drivers work in Sacramento. Their actions hurt every person in America except those who financially benefit from the present prosecutions.

“Many reasons may be assigned for the amazing economic development of the United States. The abundance of our national resources, the freedom of our political institutions, and the character of our population have all undoubtedly contributed. But in my judgment the greatest factor has been the fact that by the happenstance of good fortune there was created here in America the largest area in the world in which there were no barriers to the exchange of goods and ideas.” Gold helped bring about this happenstance of good fortune.

...

 

  
 
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