We were on our last legs as we trudged through two feet of snow over the last quarter-mile stretch back to the car. “One more bend and we’re there” my husband called back encouragingly as I slipped and fell again, my muscles fatigued.
Why were we doing this? The mine we had just purchased.
My coat was stuffed with rocks I hoped contained some gold. As I rolled onto my stomach and tried to brace myself to get up, I felt like a villain from a movie who’s greed becomes their downfall. You know the type: the character who feverishly claws gold coins and diamonds into their hats and pockets while fleeing a collapsing temple only to be crushed by a four-hundred-pound gold nugget.
Maybe my gold nugget is waiting for me back at the mine.
We were there that day to scope out the patented mineral claim that includes The California Mine, the Bachelor Claim, the Arizona Fraction and 45 acres of rugged terrain. The claims were worked mainly between 1900 and 1902 with some ventures in between; but it’s been closed since 1935.
We won’t be setting foot into any entrances and will be going back after the snow melts to walk the place and mark anything that looks remotely dangerous. Next, we’ll sample the tailings and build some sort of access to the mine with the help of a friend with some heavy equipment.
We’ll probably camp there often over the summer and bring back loads of just tailings to process. We should have some of them assayed. Depending on how all of this goes, we’ll have a mining consultant have a look at the place. All of our next steps will depend on the ones before them.
Our ultimate goal is to enjoy our property in it’s natural state but we sure as heck didn’t buy a patented mining claim to look at the trees grow. We may or may not build a house there because of the high elevation. Someone lives just down the county road on the way and has a power box installed so it’s not totally out of the question. It would be infinitely easier to work the place as backyard prospectors if it was our backyard – but the snow…
Aside from the economic potential, this place is turning out to have one hell of a history as a producer and investment in its heyday. The back story spans over 100 years, as we’ve discovered it so far, and will appear in my next post.
We made it back to the car (obviously) and drove home, enthusiastically discussing various possibilities for the beautiful hill we now owned. We’ll be sorting through our backpacks in preparation for future trips.
In addition to piecing together the mine’s history, we’ll research the regulations that apply. The consultant will be the ultimate expert and advisor when that time comes. We do things by the book and we have no plans to plunder the environment. The main ore body is most likely cleaned out and the mine is reported to be flooded. We only want to pick through the leftovers, which, at 26oz. of gold per ton for some specimens from crosscuts that were brought up through the main shaft, shouldn’t be too shabby.
This place will keep us busy for awhile.