The California Mine


It all starts when you see the first fleck of gold in the bottom of a pan: then you’re hooked – for life.


When my husband and I moved from western to eastern Washington a few years back, we contracted what is known as Gold Fever after panning the rivers near us. To alleviate the symptoms we bought a gold mine but I don’t believe there is a cure for the love of and the fascination with gold.

I guess you just go with it.

Here’s our story – so far.



Adventure Awaits You” the print optimistically proclaimed every time I saw the ad for this property. It mentioned a mineral survey but I didn’t have a clue what that was at the time.

After moving from the suburbs to rural Washington we’d settled on a few acres of raw land and were roughing it. This only left us wanting more adventure so, already looking for a larger parcel to build on, we set our sights on something in a gold district.

I ran across the real estate listing often but didn’t realize it had a gold mine until another deal fell through and we inquired about it. We were sold.

Gold is beautiful, infinitely useful, and elusive; making it an extremely valuable commodity. Like light drawn into a black hole, many people cannot break free of the powerful attraction.

The gold rush of 1848 attracted tens of thousands of souls to California while a large portion of the newly “acquired” American west remained unexplored. In addition, Congress needed gold to back the greenback so they opened those regions to mineral exploration and settlement, offering land and mineral patents as an incentive.

To locate (find and claim) a mineral deposit for potential patent, certain requirements had to be completed before the patent was issued. Then, once the fees were paid, both the surface and minerals passed from the public domain into private ownership.

Uncle Sam sold our mineral patent to The Apollo Consolidated Gold Mining Company in 1913. We bought a portion of that in January of 2022. The California Lode, The Bachelor Lode, and The Arizona Fraction stretch across forty-five acres on a small mountain where the historic California Mine resides.

Having purchased our mine in the middle of winter, the wait for spring was interminable. Sherman Pass and billions of tons of snow still stood between us and our destiny.

By March, we could wait no longer. 

We braved (or stupided) temperatures in the teens and a quarter of a mile walk through three feet of snow before we laid eyes on It for the first time.  My husband promptly climbed to the top of the mountain while I floundered about in the snow drifts near the road with my metal detector.


Exhausted, and having met and shaken hands with our claim, we turned tail and headed back home to wait till the snow was gone. Stories From Off The Grid: The California Mine

On a subsequent trip, we made it to the mine at a little over four-thousand feet.

From the upper portions of the property, you can see for miles and look down on low-lying clouds. The amazing sights encourage one to be present as does the potential for danger. Bear and cougar roam the area and ground subsidence from collapsed workings is sometimes hidden in the brush.



As we left the mine to head back down to the car on one of our initial trips, we paused as my husband gestured toward a mountain towering over us to our left.

He was pointing at The Bachelor Lode which is the apex of our property. United States Land Monument #7 is located there because it towers over the area. All of the nearby mineral survey measurements are located in relationship to it.

Hundreds of feet below the lonely, windswept surface (perhaps wandering the abandoned workings in the bedrock) lives The Ghost of The Mountain; or so we pretend. We came up with the idea when a friend remarked that “Finding gold is like shooting a ghost in the dark”.

As we gazed at the backbone of the property above us, already enchanted with much more than the promise of profit, my husband remarked “You haven’t even been up there yet”.

Then I remembered the ad: Adventure Awaits You.


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