Original Sixteen-to-One Forced to Close Due to Low Price of Gold
California Mining Journal, February 1966
Reprinted from the Mountain Messenger
One of California’s better known gold mines, with a name that brings memories of political controversy of another century – a venerable producer of high grade ore in its day – the Sixteen to One mine in Alleghany will suspend operations and be closed tight. This was the announcement that went out from the Dec. 9 meeting of the board of directors over the signature of Walter Stintson, president of the Original Sixteen to Mine, Inc.
Caught in Squeeze
With its main office within a half-mile or less of the Alleghany post office, this virtually last producing gold mine in California with its own operating milling facilities dies virtually of strangulation – the unrealistic price of $35.00 per ounce for gold, set in 1932, against costs which have trebled and quadrupled since that time. It is a tribute to the courageous stockholders and directors of the 16 to 1 Mine that it remained in operation for such a long period of time, long after the wartime order L-208, which held gold to me a nonessential metal, long after other mines of even greater resources had quietly disappeared from the “industrial scene” and long after the “gold men” of California and the United States clung to the hope that an intelligent government would recognize the need for gold, for monetary backing in an era where America’s financial resources are being badly dissipated.
Held to Last
In can be said that the 16 to 1 held on to the last possible minute and then only were orders given to the 12 to 15 men to put the mine in order and prepare for a complete closedown, by Dec. 31 at the latest, and earlier if possible. Gold mining people up and down California will regret the closing of the 16 to 1, regarded by many as one of the greater symbols in the state for the return of the gold mining industry. However, some smaller operations are active in Sierra County and will continue to be so. Mike DeGrio is operating the Eldorado-Plumbago mine on the Middle Yuba with a small crew of men and Dickey Exploration Company is continuing explorations and activities at the famed Oriental in the Alleghany District. Richard Flatland and Ed Bruning are operating the mill known as Kate Hardy.
Long Under Bennett
C.A. (Dick) Bennett, Nevada City, served as superintendent and engineer in charge of operations at the 16 to 1 in the many years of its heyday and high productivity, remaining in an advisory and consulting capacity last year. Wilford Hart, Alleghany, followed as general manager at the 16 to 1 for six months and then accepted a position with the Industrial Safety Division of the state of California and is located in Southern California. Tom Hogan followed Hart and has been in charge in recent months and will continue during the saddening duty of closing the famed and romantically-named producer.
For the past year or so, operations have been more exploratory than ore producing, as men sought men grade ore that would permit the mine to remain in operation in the face of terrifying costs. Some very good indications were uncovered, indicating that the values are there, but they could not be mined at $35 an ounce. For the past year or more the 16 to 1 has been operating in the Tightner Mine country, under earlier agreement with the Tightner Mines Company, of which the late A.D. Foote in the early part of the century was the central figure. The Tightner is equipped with a stamp mill of the older type, but this has not been in operation. The 216 to 1 has been crushing about one shift a day against the capacity of 120-140 tons through the ball-mill and concentrating tables, although they did not use cyanidation or floatation.
Mining at the 16 to 1 and Tightner properties, which are well-interlaced underground, was by tunnel and winzes. At least three principle winzes were sunk from adits in the 16 to 1 and Tightner to depths of 1000 feet or more and intervening country mined in the succeeding years. It was the Tightner property that the latest work was completed and where come of the best samples were taken in the exploration program.
Steady Operations Since 1911
The 16 to 1 mine as it is known today, Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. goes back to 1911 and has been in steady operation by the same company and personnel during those years. Earlier than that a group showed activity in 1896 at the 16 to 1 and then from 1905 to 1907 a group put a number together, including the old Oustamah and mined for a short time. But the present operation has been continuous since 1911 and a little more than half a century later the economics of the country, which has swung to soft currency instead of hard money, has brought a steady reliable contractor to the economy of the country and the state, the nation too, to its knees.