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.

Following are the accounts of myself and my husband after discovering we shared a passion for gold. After a summer of prospecting the rivers of Northeastern Washington state, Gold Fever (as the passion is sometimes called), led us in search of land with a real-life gold mine.

After a few years of looking, we found one and after decades of relative quiet, it’s ready to talk.

Someone I once knew said hunting for gold is like shooting a ghost in the dark. Our ghost lives in The California Mine which lives inside a small mountain outside of the town of Republic, Washington.

Here is its story.


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.


We had become obsessed with gold about three years prior and had been looking for property with either a good chance of having it or better: finding a place with an existing mine.

The precious metal has become nothing short of supernatural to us and we won’t be the first to have come under it’s spell. So much of U.S. history was dug, pounded, blown up and influenced by its conquest.

While the early days of prospecting were self-regulated amazingly well, during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the United States government codified the rights of the people to access public lands in search of minerals and attempted to standardize the system.

After meeting certain requirements, those with established claims could purchase the minerals and surface through mineral patents (which are no longer available unless you buy an existing one).

Uncle Sam sold our minerals and land into private ownership in 1913. We bought a portion of that (the best part), in 2022.

It’s known as The California Lode and encompasses a mine on a little over 45 acres along with The Bachelor Lode, and The Arizona Fraction. Once we’d purchased it, we began to research the history and what we’ve been able to find so far is fascinating. – so I write.

After waiting for the snow to melt, we lost patience and slogged in early in the year. Access is almost impossible and is part of a developing story. On the first trip, my husband made it to the top but not me. Regardless, we met our claim, shook hands with it, and ran back home to wait by the fireplace for spring. Stories From Off The Grid: The California Mine

On a subsequent trip, we both made it to the mine.

Once you get to the upper portions of the place you’re in the clouds. Just being there feels wild and alive – raw. It feels like a filter has been lifted between you and reality. It’s both exilerating – and scary.

As we stood and looked around before heading back down to the car on one trip, my husband pointed up to more mountain hundreds of feet over and further up and said “We haven’t even been up there yet”.

It was then that I realized how much I’d underestimated the size of the place.

Adventure awaits…


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