Heading deeper into the heart of the mine, we were pleased to find it dry and, because of that, to encounter more historic mining artifacts that had been preserved pretty well… Both of us were quite curious as to what is to be found past that platform up the raise at the end of the main haulage adit. Do any drifts run off to the side from that point? We simply don’t know. It may be difficult to tell in the video, but the raise running up to that platform is nearly vertical and the sides of the raise are smooth. There was no air flow back there and so this does not connect with the surface either. We discussed various ideas – such as returning with a cheap, remote-controlled helicopter or drone or even using a crossbow to shoot a rope up there in order to see what the layout is, but eventually had to reject every idea as impractical. So, that raise remains a mystery for now.
It was very difficult for me to move around on that lower level the winze dropped down to. The bottom of the drift was covered in sharp, loose rock that was constantly shifting as I walked on it. As you undoubtedly observed, it was a completely different type of rock than the “concrete” flow we enjoyed going through above. Perhaps the early miners mistook the rock I encountered on that lower level for bedrock and that is why those chose to run the adit in at the location they did? In other words, they may have been hoping to encounter the ancient river channels at the point where it met the bedrock (which is the sweet spot for placer gold).
This bears expanding upon as, based upon the comments on the first video, many people seem to misunderstand the placer deposits. In the ancient past, there were a series of mighty rivers that ran through this area. As time ate away the mountains that the rivers carved through, gold deposits were exposed and slowly accumulated in the rivers below (just as they do today). After millions of years, these mighty rivers eventually died and were buried by violent volcanic activity. Millions of years more passed and geological forces twisted and lifted the ancient river channels in the same process that leads modern scientists to discover the fossils of sea shells on top of mountains. Today, these ancient river channels and their gold are hidden underground high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Often, there is no clear indication on the surface of the riches that lie beneath. California’s Gold Rush brought many miners swarming into these mountains chasing after the placer gold found in the creeks and rivers. However, it was not long until this gold supply was exhausted. The miners then turned their attention to the source of the gold they had been chasing and went burrowing after the underground lode gold deposits that the placer gold comes from. It is likely during this process that miners stumbled across the ancient river channels deep underground and the treasure trove of placer gold they contained. This unleashed a new gold rush as the miners chased this new source of gold and tried to figure out the location and flow of the buried ancient river channels.
One last “oh by the way” that you might find interesting… The miners of the past did not have the benefit of modern technology in locating, measuring and assessing gold deposits. Again, I can’t give too much away, but I will say that this mine is sitting VERY close to one of the last major untapped ancient river channels out there. The miners working here came painfully close to connecting with it. If California laws regarding mining ever ease up a bit, it is fair to say that Adit Addicts and I would be putting up claim markers on this one. We don’t presently have the capital or expertise to exploit this deposit, but look at production records for mines like the nearby Ruby Mine and you’ll get an idea of the tremendous wealth still sitting underground here.
All of these videos are uploaded in HD, so adjust those settings to ramp up the quality! It really does make a difference.
You can see the gear that I use for mine exploring here: bit.ly/2wqcBDD
You can click here for my full playlist of abandoned mines: goo.gl/TEKq9L
Thanks for watching!
Growing up in California’s “Gold Rush Country” made it easy to take all of the history around us for granted. However, abandoned mine sites have a lot working against them – nature, vandals, scrappers and various government agencies… The old prospectors and miners that used to roam our lonely mountains and toil away deep underground are disappearing quickly as well.
These losses finally caught our attention and we felt compelled to make an effort to document as many of the ghost towns and abandoned mines that we could before that colorful niche of our history is gone forever.
I hope you’ll join us on these adventures!