The California Mine

INTRODUCTION

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

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My husband and I contracted the “fever” after panning the rivers of northeastern Washington state a few years back, ultimately resulting in our buying a gold mine.

Our story follows.

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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.

I would run across the ad while looking for raw land to possibly build on but we had our eyes on properties in gold districts. It wasn’t until another deal fell through that we learned this place had a gold mine so we enthusiastically purchased it.

We won’t be the first to have been sucked like light into a black hole in search of the precious metal.

Gold has an almost supernatural appeal that fascinates and drives people.  The California Gold Rush of 1848 attracted tens of thousands of souls from all over the world to the area.

Congress’ thirst for gold equaled that of the prospector’s but for different reasons. The government needed gold to back the greenback so it passed legislation to encourage exploration and settlement of the United State’s newly acquired lands.  The public domain was opened for mineral exploration and homesteading with patents being offered as an incentive.

After meeting certain requirements, those with established mineral claims were granted possession of 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 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 acquired our gold 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 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, waiting for him to return.

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The endeavor left us exhausted , so, having met and shaken hands with our claim, we turned tail and headed back home to wait by the fireplace for spring. Stories From Off The Grid: The California Mine

On a subsequent trip, we made it to the mine shaft and tailings (the piles of ore left behind after sorting it).

Once you get to the upper portions of the place you’re in the clouds. Being there feels wild and alive – raw – as if all filters between you and reality have been removed. It’s both exhilarating – and scary.

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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.

Deep in the bedrock below the windswept, lonely surface lives The Ghost of The Mountain. It’s a theme we came up with after hearing a friend remark 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.

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