I struggled to come up with a descriptive title for this video. How to explain that incredible quartz vein – narrow, pure and running up so high that it went out of sight – that the gold miners chased? To me, it really did seem as if it ran to the sky… I have seen where miners have chased rich veins of quartz for impressive distances before, but I have never seen a quartz vein that was a solid slab running vertically to the heights that this one did. Another differentiating factor is that this vein must have been full of gold. One sees sections of quartz in many lode gold mines, but it is barren and so the miners leave it behind. This was different. In this mine, the miners cleared the whole vein out! Consider the – not one, but two – stamp mills outside, consider the effort the miners expended to reach that quartz vein and then to chase it up (the miners would have been drilling overhead the entire time in a space not much more than three feet wide), consider the expensive rail in this mine… The old timers were not stupid. They would not have spent that much money, they would not have done that much work and they would not have taken out that much quartz unless the gold to be found in that incredible quartz vein was worth it. And remember, that quartz vein was the only part of the mine where the miners took any ore out. Yet, they still required two stamp mills! I did not locate production numbers for this mine, but one can only imagine what was taken out.
I don’t know how the miners discovered this deposit, especially as they located it before modern drilling and other technology the miners of today have at their disposal. I hiked down from the direction this mine runs and there was no sign of that quartz deposit on the surface. There were the remains of even older mining operations on the way down – the faint remains of a stamp mill, bits of metal, some surface work - and so maybe the miners had an inkling there was something below, but I don’t know what gave them the confidence to start blasting back for thousands of feet in a perfectly straight line. That was a major effort!
Abandoned mining equipment is always interesting to me, but I was even more taken with the equipment at the outside of this mine as I had not heard of either of those companies – Krogh Manufacturing and Globe Iron Works – before. Usually, one will start to recognize the familiar names like Ingersoll Rand or Miners Foundry, but those names were new to me and, therefore, presumably older. The dates of the patents would seem to confirm this.
The oxygen meter I was using at the time I explored this mine would alert when oxygen levels fell below 19.5%. However, it did not display what the actual percentage of oxygen was. Lower levels of oxygen are tolerable, but not MUCH lower levels. Without knowing what the actual percentage of oxygen was, I had to just judge the oxygen levels and safety by the symptoms I was experiencing. That’s pushing it a bit, but you’ve got to want it to see the treasures in life. I was alone on this trip, but with bad air it hardly matters if you are one person or a hundred. If you collapse from bad air, the guy behind you can’t grab you or he’ll succumb too. You’re done. It’s not like falling and breaking your leg or something where having someone else there will make a difference. So, it is important to pay close attention to the symptoms... With this particular oxygen meter it would stop working after alerting and being reset several times in the low O2 environment. Fortunately, the O2 meter I use now shows the exact percentage of oxygen so I can make a more informed decision on whether to proceed or not. In this mine, the low oxygen was almost certainly caused by the rotting timbers.
I am glad that I didn’t turn around.
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: https://bit.ly/2wqcBDD
You can click here for my full playlist of abandoned mines: https://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!