Mining The Corpse Of A Mighty Ancient River For Gold

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If ever an abandoned mine exemplified the spirit of not giving up, this one would be it! Perseverance paid off big time here by getting us in to explore this extraordinary underground placer gold mine. In my opinion, this is the best placer mine that I have explored. Some, such as the Ruby Mine, have been bigger, but I have been in a lot of these mines inside of the ancient river channels and none of them have been as unique and as visually interesting as this one is…

I always receive questions on the nature of the placer deposits in this “Mother Lode” region of California and so I’ll repeat the explanation I gave previously:

The placer here is made up of the compressed remains of giant ancient rivers that used to run through where the Sierra Nevada mountains of California are now. Just as modern creeks and rivers in “gold country” fill up with gold over time, these ancient rivers did as well. However, there were no miners around back then to pick the gold out of them. Over time, volcanic eruptions and other geologic activity buried these ancient rivers and shifted them around. Now, one can find these ancient river channels at the top of a mountain. And, of course, even there they still contain the gold that tumbled down into them so many millions of years ago. So, gold miners will eagerly tunnel in through even thousands of feet of rock after them. No one knows who first discovered that there were ancient rivers full of gold buried in California, but can you imagine what went through their mind when they made that discovery?

In case you didn’t catch what happened in this video in relation to my prior experience… Several years ago, I visited an underground placer gold mine in the area that ended up being much larger than I expected. Exhaustion, bad blisters and dying batteries led me to wrap up my visit before fully exploring that mine. It was always my intention to return and finish it one day, but I had not gotten around to doing so yet. More recently, I was looking around the area and, entirely by chance, stumbled across the portal that you saw in this video. Well, that portal looked large and inviting and so I returned with a couple of my exploring crew to see what this mine was all about. As you saw in the video, this tied into the mine I had explored several years ago! So, what you saw in this video is what I was unable to finish last time (and there are still a handful of sections in the workings I visited in the early videos that I have not visited). The two portals essentially bookend the workings of the mine as each is at the extreme edge of the workings.

If you’re interested in seeing the other workings that I visited several years ago, those two videos can be found below:

Part 1



Part 2



The earliest records of this abandoned gold mine that I could find were newspaper articles dating back to 1908. However, the articles also mentioned that the mine used to be known by another name and dates back even earlier. So, we know that the mine is well over a century old. We’re just not sure of exactly how old or what its origins are. The most extensive work appears to have been done during the 1920s and 1930s.

Frustratingly, we located the remains of the miner’s bunkhouse in a nearby meadow. It was impressively furnished with a washing machine and dryer, a refrigerator, a stove and many other household luxuries. Unfortunately, all of this had been burned and pushed over a cliff. I don’t have any proof, but I suspect the Forest Service was responsible as during the 1970s, they burned down all of the historic miner’s cabins and bunkhouses in the area.

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All of these videos are uploaded in HD, so I’d encourage you to adjust your settings to the highest quality if it is not done automatically.

You can see the gear that I use for mine exploring here:

As well as a small gear update here:

You can see the full TVR Exploring playlist of abandoned mines here:

Thanks for watching!

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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.

So, yes, in short, we are adit addicts… I hope you’ll join us on these adventures!

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