The search is over, let the plundering begin! (long)

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I have spent countless hours pouring over every kind of map and Sat photo I can get my hands on looking for clues on the real location of an old mine said to have been very rich in free gold and closed by the war act, then lost. For the past year I have cut my way through cat claw and chaparral checking out the least possible of prospect marks on all maps near the area and found several new little patches, yet nothing remotely resembling what I thought I should find at this aged mine site.

I left the house at 0700 yesterday morning for yet another try. The target was a steep gully I had found on a Sat picture in the shadow of a ridge line. I had enhanced the picture and thought it could be a tailing dump. The hike in was 2 miles of the thickest mix of chaparral one could imagine. About a mile into the hike I was finding remnants of a very old road with hand stacked rocks shoring up parts of it yet no sign of any type of human trash anywhere. Not even a shell casing or piece of tin. That was a little worrisome but I continued to cut my way up. I started the hike at 0930 and found my first old cabin near the mine at 1145. In all I located 14 cabins including a Blacksmiths shop still standing with some tools still inside. The single stamp mill is still there with ore feed sitting ready to be crushed. This is an amazing place with zero sign of any modern visitation. The first thing that hit me was the vast size of the tailing pile and just how much visible gold was in the waste rock. No huge chunks of gold but a lot of cobbles with flour gold in them quite visible to the naked eye. I paced off the tailing pile and it is 320’ in length, about 100’ in height and 25’ wide at its top. That’s a huge amount of rock having been moved for a single stamp mill. No leach tanks, no floatation equipment anywhere to be found and by the amount of gold in the waste rock they had to have been only interested in something richer in pay. The host rock is hard granite so driving the drift would have been expensive. It’s hard for me to imagine any company moving that amount of rock and only feeding a single stamp mill. I could not explore much of the drift due to the likelihood of hypothermia getting a hold of me from the chilled water but in the first 50’ I was seeing visible gold in spots along the entire vein located right along the top of the drift. I returned a happy man and have plenty of work ahead of me on this adventure.

To those that have offered help with old map info etc, many thanks… In the end it was mostly luck and persistence that nailed it for me. Oh, and a crap load of hiking around chasing phantoms!







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Thats excellent!

Sounds like a real good spot. Hope you really hit it.

Its amazing what one or two guys working full time for a few years can do.

Whats your plan to get the gold there?

Might be able to make some god use of that water in the adit to get some gold. If there are many fines in the dump, the fines portion will have some good gold.

How did they power the stamp? Was there a visible mill tailings dump from the stamp?

Do you think the road is repairable to the point you could get an ATV in?

Sorry for the pile of questions. Keep us posted on your progress.

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Hey Chris, hope you are doing well.

It is amazing what one or two guys working full time for a few years can do but even the old timers wouldnt do it without gain. Doing the math I expect to find around 1700' of workings. My guess is that after the war finding (let alone being able to afford) the steel and related equipment to re-open rendured it unprofitable. There has been a large slide that pretty much erased the old road so even reaching it with trucks would have been pretty costly.

My primary plan is to map and high grade the adit while also detecting it and the area around. With the fresh mill feed I'm all but certain the working face will show well. The tunnel is driven along the bottom of the vein and looks level. Dewatering would be a snap but would also allow for others to snipe it easy. I may not go that route.

The mill tailings went straight into the drainage and there is none left showing. I do know the drainage to carry good color but never enough water to work easy. There is some parts left from a boiler I suspect ran the small mill.

An odity about the site is the type of rail used. It is not the narrow gauge rail but instead looks like standard rail of the period yet the ore car is of narrow gauge. Have you ever seen this done?

A weekend with a chainsaw and pry bar would make an easy quad path up but also point the way for others. It has sat this long without anyone finding it I would like it to stay that way for a little longer so thats not an option right now. I will probably continue to brush bust for the first 1/4 mile and then open up clear path.


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Oh, how I love your story! I have one similar up in my home state. I found it when I was a very young man and even rebuilt one of the cabins for elk hunting. When I got much older and had some time on my hands I went back and searched for gold. I found my very first gold at that site. Since that first gold hunting trip I became ill and am unable to go back in. It is much too far for me to walk and no ATV's can get in. Maybe a horse.

I appreciate your "never say die" attitude and that it has paid off for you. Don't you just dream about the possibilities?

I hope you will keep us posted as you progress!


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Filing a claim would be like a public announcement of the find. Better to keep stealthy.


I'd use that water, via a siphon, to wash the finer sized gravel in the dump through a sluice. I'd do it during the wet season so as to not attract attention. Fines usually carry a higher then average percentage of the gold. Take some pan samples to check - use the adit water to pan with. No need to worry about a dry adit - the adit will refill with water within days. Think of the adit like a horizontal well. You might well have a couple hundred ounces of free gold in that dump! Besides, removing the dump will make the thing even harder for others to find! The water might also help you highbank or otherwise work the ravine gravels as well.

I'd guess that the mine operators were hand picking the ore - they would only run the selected material through the stamp. You may find much less than 1700 feet of workings as there is probably lots of reject ore thrown on the dump. You will probably find some nice small stopes where they were taking out ore.

I'm suprised they would use a boiler. There is no cord wood handy to burn. A gasoline engine might be easier to supply and a one stamp mill would beasily be run by a small IC engine.

There are various sizes of small rail used in mines - 20 pound, 30 pound and 40 pound. I have never seen 90 pound rail (the type used on modern commercial rail roads) used in a mine, but perhaps they were able to get it for free or almost free. Its just dang hard to move around and use as its so heavy. A normal ore car will run on heavy gauge rail as long as the distance between the rails is correct.

Be careful in the old mine. I dont know what your expereince level is undergound, but old mines can be dangerous. I would not consider going in an undrained old mine. To many hazards that would be easy seen on the ground that would be hidden in the water. I also would not even consider going underground unless I had a partner outside to go for help if necessary. I dont know what the ventillation situation is there, but old rotten wood can off gas bad air. I know - I used to work underground and was certified by MSHA to work underground (I am currently certified by MSHA only to work in surface mines - I let my undergound certification lapse).


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It is open ground for claiming but like I said, for the sum total of all factors this thing was a real bitch to find and reach. I just don't think it's wise to toss a claim on it and point the way for everyone that wants to go play. I have seen other similar places ruined and even burned because of a few loose lips. Anyone on here know the story behind the Sunflower Retort? It was visited often by hunters and prospectors yet still all there until a local rag ran a story about it along with some cool pic's and just how to get to it. A year later nothing but ashes and broken beer bottles.

Thanks for the warning Chris. I am probably one of the more experianced in this state for abandoned underground environments including flooded work. You won't be reading about me turning tits up underground anytime soon. ;)

I think the boiler would have been a good option for them. They had ample gravity feed water and right in the middle of a ponderosa pine forest. Lots of large stumps around from the cutting they did. No shoring looks to have been required in the mine. I'm hoping there will be some detectable lenses in the vein that were missed. I did find where one lens had been mined of about a cubic yards worth.

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Shadow,are you going to bench test the tailings with a detector?What are your sampling plans on the visible veins?......Dave

I don't really have a sampleing "plan" other than look for the best pay and dig it out. :) I think a guy would be happy just drywashing the drainage but really hope to find the ore in place just as they left it.

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Mr. The Shadow, I see that you are using the latest technology in the last photo by bending the radar around your head (invisible) and revealing the tree behind you. I have several tailing piles in Virginia at mining sites that I plan to check out. So far, I have not seen any visible gold. Could you or anyone out there provide any info on the X-Terra70. I would like a detector that will locate small gold and civil war items. The ground in Virginia seems to be highly mineralized. It looks like you have a life time of work ahead of you. Also, If you decide to sell stock sometime in the future to raise capital for your project, I am interested. Thanks, Ruff&Tuff

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That's a find of a lifetime. Take as many pictures as you can. The good stuff, the funny stuff, the stupid stuff everything. Make notes, for you hold in you hand history as only can be told by one who is there.

Good Luck.... Please be safe..... and take care of the earth around you.


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Congrats Bob, I hope it's a bonanza for you. I hope you don't mind, I used some photo enhancment software to bring back the part you blurred. :D


"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

Later...Jim P.

I was going to toss in a Jack-o-lantern at first but ran out of ambition. I think the head need to be larger but all is good! B)

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  • 5 months later...

Bob, you need to be more careful about revealing this...By reading the time on your watch and measuring the angle of the sun at two points in the pic, B) I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the cabin behind you... :lol:;););) ...What a cool adventure you have in store...Cheers, Unc

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