August 18, 2022 



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 By fredmcain

04/21/2014  4:11AM


You know, I might just write to the Union again. There were a couple of other "Letters to The Editor" published along with mine that I did not completely agree with.

There were two other contributors who thought it a travesty and an abomination to sell the Empire State Park. My point would be, that depends entirely upon WHOM they sell it to.

A privately owned mining company that knows what they're doing might not only do a noble job but actually do a BETTER job than what the state has done.

A contract could be signed at the beginning legally binding the new private park to certain, specific obligations and criteria. For example, NO OPEN PIT OR STRIP MINING and a guarentee that admission-paying tourists get a good deal.

I have some additional thoughts on this but right now I'm still trying to get them organized. I will share they with the group if I'm able to organize them into another good letter.

Fred M. Cain
 By bluejay

04/18/2014  10:37AM

Great work guys for a worthy cause.

California's treasury is empty. The agencies have been ordered to stop cash outflow and to increase revenues. This fire marshall crap sounds a lot like the endangered turtle crap in eastern Nevada against a cattle rancher.

California's representative are no different from other states and the feds. Instead of telling you their real reason they point their fingers away from themselves and play the "blame game." stabbing its citizens in the back with false reasoning for getting what they really want.

When some stood to defend their perceived rights(Constitutionally backed) against over zealous agencies, people like Harry Reid of Nevada start throwing around domestic terrorists jargon regarding BLM rangers being met with anger recently at the Bundy Ranch when the government case is more crap.
 By fredmcain

04/17/2014  4:44AM


Hey, great news there! I hope it does some good! Maybe if the state gets enough irate letters and e-mails they might begin to budge.

I have wondered if this isn't a classic example of the government's right hand not knowing what the left heand's doing?

It seems like someone in the state government was really pushing this adit project hard while someone else at the State was absolutely determined to make sure it would never open. Didn't you say that it was pretty much ready to go back in '06 or '07? So, why didn't they just open it then?

Makes no sense to me at all. Then again, neither does the California State Water Board make any sense to me.

Fred M. Cain
 By Michael Miller

04/16/2014  2:54PM

Fred's letter along with two others were printed in the Grass Valley Union. Find all three under the NEWS topic at the left. Thanks Fred.
 By fredmcain

04/03/2014  1:23PM


I wrote a letter to the editor of the Union urging him to print it. He did not absolutely promise this but he was very encouraging. I believe he probably will.

In my cover letter I stated that:

Dear Mr. Hamilton,

I was given your e-mail address to write to by the president of the Original Sixteen To One Mine, Michael Miller.

As a Midwestern tourist I have been looking forward to the opening of the Empire Mine Adit Project with anticipation. I was frustrated first by the delays and now I’ve heard that it has been “abandoned”.

I have drafted a letter to the California State Parks Division and was hoping you could either print it, forward it to the appropriate person or both.

I could mention that there are numerous old mines all over the country, some of which have been closed for decades, which offer safe tours to the public. The Original Sixteen To One Mine is among them although this mine is still in operation.

However, there is a gold mine at Julian (near San Diego) that has a tour, the Queen Mine at Bisbee, AZ and the Old Hundred Mine in Colorado. And that is a very, very short list. There are many more mines around the country that do this and it is completely and entirely SAFE. Why can’t the California State Parks Dept. get this right?

And the main body of the letter:

Dear California State Parks:

As a hard-core dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner, I have all my life believed that there is simply no greater place on earth to take a vacation and spend leisure time than in the State of California.

On one great vacation taken back in the 1980s, we visited the Empire Mine State Park near Grass Valley, CA. Unfortunately, I was bitterly disappointed that there was no underground tour at that time. I actually felt kind of cheated and ripped off. This would be like getting to visit the Empire State Building in New York City, paying an admission to visit the lobby only to find that there is no elevator ride to the top. This is completely unacceptable.

A few years ago I was positively elated to learn that they were working on developing an underground tour. I was thinking about planning a vacation to California to see this. Now I am crestfallen to learn that this will not happen after all and AFTER the State has spent 3½ million dollars on the project. Something about “corrosion” on the beams. This, too, is completely unacceptable. This issue needs to be addressed and resolved. It is completely unfair to the people of the Golden State.

It’s also unfair to millions of people like me who plan to come to California to spend their money on vacations. Without wonderful attractions like the Empire Mine, we might just decide to go elsewhere. If we do come at all, there surely would be no compelling reason to visit the Nevada City/Grass Valley area.

I would like to strongly urge you to take whatever steps are necessary to get this project going again and get it finished.

With Sincere Regards,

Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, Indiana
April 2nd, 2014
 By fredmcain

04/01/2014  4:24AM

Thanks, Scoop!

For what it's worth, while in there I also found a video of a train ride. You can see the train here: (Copy and paste that address to your browser).

I simply cannot fathom WHY the Empire Mine can't do this too! You'll notice that there are *NO* steel support beams or siding in this mine and yet it looks perfectly safe. I'd send my kids on this ride in a heartbeat. (If, that is, I can go too! I LOVE train rides! Guess I'm still a kid at heart).

Fred M. Cain

03/31/2014  2:24PM

Forget Mike's post below about how to hear the KNCO radio interview. Go to the NEWS category (on left, second item) and click on Michael Miller-KNCO Radio Interview. This will get you to the show without those tiresome commercials now edited out.

03/31/2014  8:53AM

Mike, I’ve been off the Sixteen website for a while and a little slow on the uptake. I’ve been struggling with as legal matter too. I’m the trustee for an estate that’s being contested. There’s a Court Hearing in San Mateo County on 22 April that I’ll attend. I expect and hope that this will settle and close the matter.

Anyway Congrats!! for being on the KNCO NewsTalk Show!! When we met last we talked about using Social Media to get support for Gold Mining in Sierra County. I’ve started working on using SM as a Marketing tool and Strategy. When we get support from the community we will have a defense against all the unnecessary regulation, and in particular, the Water Board. Having exposure on the radio and in the Mountain Messenger would be a Great help! I want to use Social Media to attract people and move them onto the Sixteen website. Then we can educate them that the Sixteen is using mining technology of the 21st Century like Quartzview. And pitch the point that this is very clean mining and a HUGE economic boost to the entire County. When I get this a little more worked out, we can chat or even meet to discuss how we implement SM. But basically, radio, newspapers will get people interested and start looking at the SM, which will lead them to our website, and get them involved with us. I remember posting a News article about a year ago where public demonstrations at a coal mine in Ohio forced the regulators to approve of reopening the mine and allowing operations to restart. If this can be done with coal, we can certainly do it for GOLD.

 By fredmcain

03/31/2014  7:39AM


I just found an interesting article here on the Empire Mine.

You have to copy and paste that address to your browser.

What really caught my eye was the statement that only about 20% of the gold has been recovered from the mine. Imagine that!

That makes me wonder about the Original Sixteen To One. The Sixteen To One is only about one tenth the size of the Empire - if I did the math right. Does that mean possibly, just possibly, that only TWO percent of the gold has be recovered? I wonder.

And the stock is selling for nine cents? Could this be the buying opportunity of a lifetime?

Fred M. Cain
 By Michael Miller

03/10/2014  4:36PM

Just got information how to access the radio program cited below. type click on "Listen Live". The show will start in moments from your click.
 By Michael Miller

03/10/2014  3:06PM

A Grass Valley radio manager invited me to be a guest on his station: KNCO FM-Star 94 or KNCO NewsTalk 830. The fiasco at the Empire Mine State Park created an uproar. The subjects as well as the Empire are news about the Sixteen to One.

I made no public comments about the Empire since completing the adit in 2005. I also turned down earlier invitations from the station. I accepted this offer and wrote the station manager that I would answer all questions on the air. There are many topics that I have not commented on regarding gold mining and the industry. It is a large are for discussion and starting with California Gold Mining 1A is not my desire. I look forward to the broadcasters' questions.

The interview is March 13, 2014 from 1pm to 2pm. If you have questions, call into the station(530) 2723424.
 By fredmcain

03/07/2014  11:58AM

Oh, for cryin' out loud! Has everybody seen this?:

I'll copy and past the entire article below, but very briefly the Empire Mine Adit Project is dead. That's right, DEAD! I don't understand this. They spent all that money now they're gonna just walk away from it.

There are old underground mines all over the country that offer an underground tour but for some bizarre reason, the state of Calif. can't seem to get this right.

One thing is for certain: I will never go visit the Empire Mine State Park. I don't need a surface tour of a nice park. If I wanted a surface tour of a nice park, I'd go to Sequoia.

But for an underground tour, I'll guess I'll come to the Original Sixteen To One!

Here is the rest of the article copied & pasted:

California ditches Empire Mine tunnel tourism project in Grass Valley

By Peter Hecht

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 - 12:00 am

Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 - 1:52 pm

In Nevada County, this 850-foot tunnel into history was supposed to be the crowning attraction for a region whose heritage is gilded with gold.

In a project 23 years in the planning, the California Department of Parks and Recreation spent $3.5 million so tourists could board ore-style carts that three 1950s battery-powered “locos” would pull deep into the legendary Empire Mine in Grass Valley. Amid the underground chill, and in a horizontal passage built in 2005 with steel beams and framing that soon rusted to an earthy brown, they were to travel into a mine whose 367 miles of deep shafts yielded 6 million ounces of gold.

Now it appears that all this heralded tourism project has yielded is a modern-day boondoggle.

State parks officials froze the project in 2012 because of concerns that corrosion in many beams threatened the structural safety; and they recently announced they will not spend more money on the project. They said it could cost $1.4 million or more to make repairs, plus untold amounts in long-term maintenance. The endeavor is now considered dead.

The outcome has left Nevada County officials and members of the Empire Mine Park Association, a volunteer group that secured a $600,000 state grant to support the project, frustrated and angry.

“When we got the word that this was being shut down, several of us had to manage our grief,” said volunteer Jim Dierberger, a retired architect and past president of the park association. “It was like a family member died. Some of us are still reeling.”

In October, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution urging that repairs be completed because the project would pay off in tourism with “thousands of future visitors.” They were to be drawn to underground displays, including an 1860s mining drift and grizzled-looking mannequins staged to depict miners and technologies from different eras in Empire Mine’s 106-year history.

As part of the $3.5 million in state spending, the Empire Mine Park Association used grant money from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment to build an 1880s-style visitors center and ticket office, where tourists were to pick up their hardhats, raincoats and headlamps. The volunteer group, which was to run the attraction, also used grant funds to buy the battery-powered engines from a Canadian mining company for the underground excursions and construct a building for their storage and maintenance.

But a 2012 inspection report by the state fire marshal questioned the structural integrity of steel beams, which a private contractor erected every four feet to support the horizontal tunnel, called an adit, into the mine. State parks officials put the project on hold, saying as many as one-third of the beams may have been weakened by corrosion.

It didn’t help that the project came to fruition as the state faced serious budget problems. Officials say the state parks system faces $1 billion in unattended maintenance.

Last week, chief deputy parks director Aaron Robertson said the state had no interest in moving forward. “We just did not feel it was the wisest decision to spend additional dollars on a project where we didn’t know where the end was,” he said.

In rural Nevada County, the Empire Mine State Historic Park is a major draw that brings in 110,000 visitors a year, including 60,000 paying guests. They hike miles of trails, visit the gardens and regal English manor – the Empire Cottage – of San Francisco businessman William B. Bourn Sr., whose family took control of the mine in 1869. They tour the mine head frame, machine shop, blacksmith and refinery room and climb down a small set of stairs where miners used to descend deep into the shaft in a cable-operated “man skip.”

For regional officials and park volunteers, the adit project and its underground tour into the historic workings of the mine was to be the crowning attraction.

Larry Skinner, a retired Del Monte foods executive who serves as president of the Empire Mine Parks Association, said as many as 200 local volunteers – “retired insurance people, teachers, airline pilots and salesmen” – had donated time to help make the underground tour a reality. Under supervision of parks officials, many helped install water lines, electricity and high-pressure air circulation to the adit, seeking to reduce taxpayer costs.

To the volunteers, the idea that the state parks department no longer considered the adit project worthy of its budget seemed incongruous with the legacy of a mine that produced gold worth more than $8 billion in today’s dollars. The Empire Mine association offered to spend $50,000 for an engineering study on repairing the beams and pledged a fundraising drive to help pay for the work.

Skinner argued that the bulk of the corroded beams are located in a stretch of tunnel that is solid rock with no risk of collapse. “A lot of them,” he said of the beams, “are not holding up anything but their own weight.”

Last month, Skinner fired off a searing complaint to Anthony Jackson, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who oversees state parks, saying the department was killing the project based on “unsubstantiated and erroneous information.”

“This represents an enormous loss to not only the community and the park system, but also to the taxpayers of this state, who will have spent over $3.5 million on this inaccessible hole in the ground,” Skinner wrote, adding some italics for emphasis. “Is this really what you want us to do?”

In a Feb. 4 response, Jackson wrote that state parks across California face significant fiscal challenges and deferred maintenance costs due to years of state budget shortfalls, and that it wasn’t prudent to proceed with a project presenting “significant safety concerns.” He said parks officials had decided to stop funding the project “permanently.”

“Currently, the adit is unsafe and in need of critical repairs and ongoing maintenance,” Jackson wrote. “As stewards of the people’s state parks, the department is obligated to ensure the viability of cultural and natural resources in the entire system, as well as the public safety.”

Soon afterward, the Empire Mine Park Association put out a position paper. It declared: “The long anticipated Underground Tour at the Empire Mine State Historic Park now appears to be ‘history’ itself.”

The park association is trying to figure out whether it can salvage modest tourism benefits from the visitors’ center – where the mannequins are now packed in a closet – and the vintage-style maintenance building – where the parked “locos” and ore carts are unable to roll down the tracks into the new Empire Mine adit.

Recently, a county supervisor and park volunteers took a fraction of a tour into the tunnel that is to remain closed to the public.

“I understand there are challenges and budget priorities, but I hope we keep the door open on this,” said Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier, who drafted the county resolution asking park officials to revive the project. Standing in the cool air, amid the rusted steel framing, he said: “It would be a good return for the taxpayers and very good for the local tourism economy. Never say never.”

A few dozen yards in, the delegation turned back. Due to structural concerns, state parks officials said, it wasn’t safe to venture further.

Read more here:
 By martin newkom

06/02/2013  12:17PM

With regard to Mr McCains comments
I wish that my grandson's great
grandfather, one of the Holman's
who had been a dynamite man in
the Empire Mine was still around
if so he could fill several volumes about what he knew of the
 By Michael Miller

05/08/2013  7:04PM

Well, Fred, it took me awhile to get back to your comments below. Your assumption is wrong. The underground placer mining operations are chasing an ancient river that flowed mostly north to south. It flowed in the tertiary geologically time. It passed right through Alleghany and mining followed the initial stream miners and a few quartz opportunists. The Sixteen to One bought one of the most famous early mining operations known as Bald Mountain. The dead river is also called the “Blue Lead”. It was exceedingly rich. Why is this relevant today?

Maps and records verify that quartz veins outcropped in the ancient river’s bedrock. Chunks of high grade were mined in addition to the rounded ‘nuggets’. Our management realized the value of the untapped quartz and bought the claim in 2940. WWII stopped its development.

Red Star is another pre WWII target; however the Sixteen put up some cash, which coupled with a federal grant (OME loan), funded an exploration program into the Red Star on its 1500 level. So the properties are connected and remain one of our current major targets.

Last paragraph: The Idaho-Maryland activities have nothing to do with Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc., except its example of failure by a Canadian company. Unlike many (and perhaps I am naive or ignorant), I do not believe that Federal, California or Sierra County intend to kill gold mining. Some individuals may hold that belief, but for sure not in Sierra County.

I truly appreciate your comments. Your assumptions, thoughts, ideas and questions are probably raised by the majority of Americans. Your musings allow me to express opinions from an odd perspective, but I will add I perspective earned over three decades.
 By fredmcain

04/18/2013  7:34AM

Thanks, Michael and "C.W."! And, once again, very interesting! I hate to expose my ignorance but I had never heard of "underground placer mining" before. I don’t know what that is but I’m assuming it’s hydraulic mining that takes place underground. Is that right?

Another thing you said that I’m not sure I understand, it sounds to me like your remarks suggest that some of the drifts and winzes from the Red Star, Osceola and Sixteen To One mines actually connect underground. Is that right or am misunderstanding that? The piece that CW steered me to tends to suggest this as well.

Also, I would like to attempt to withdraw or clarify a statement I’d made early on the Empire Mine Adit Project. I stated that my concern on this project is that it would "come off as fake". I now believe that concern was misplaced. In an effort to read back through all the old posts, you stated on 06/11/2005 that "the adit looks great", so, I no longer believe that "looking fake" to even be an issue.

But! I would still *LOVE* to see the entire mine drained and reopened. As a realist, I know that will never happen which I think is a shame. But there is another area mine that just might if the mining regulators and local "NIMBY’s" (not in my backyard freaks) would let it.

That, of course, would be the Idaho-Maryland Mine which I would like to say more about later. I have had some e-mail correspondence with a gentleman from EmGold. I need his permission, though, to post it.

What does that have to do with the Sixteen To One? Maybe quite a bit. Federal, state and local governments need to get out of the way stop destroying America’s mining industry. If they kill the Idaho-Maryland project, they might put an end to the Sixteen To One someday. Well, I would hope not, but you never know. I guess I don’t trust ‘em very far.

Fred M. Cain
 By cw3343

04/17/2013  12:16PM

Click on The Mine on the left, then the 3rd or 4th item down has Red Star info.
 By Michael Miller

04/16/2013  3:44PM

The Red Star mine origin is an underground placer mine into the productive “Blue Lead” tertiary river. When considering the Sixteen to One holdings, it would be in the middle. During the placer days, a vein was discovered in the bedrock. Miners sank on it in two places with good results. It has intrigued our ancestors who ventured north in search of the old workings. Fred Searls (later the founder of Newmont Mining) missed a survey while working on the Sixteen to One 250 level. He was heading for the Red Star but the map shows his mistake with a sharp almost 90 degree turn. In 1964-65, the Red Star was the target from the 1500 level. The company had an OME loan (Office of Mineral Exploration) to continue the workings into the Red Star. The frozen price for gold put a stop to this work. Another lessee took the approach to get their through a neighbor mine (Osceola). A winze opened three new levels but work was discontinued due to finances. The Red Star Winze was rebuilt in 1989 by us. All work ceased when the Company bought back the leased properties from Royal Gold in 1991. We decided to work the southern property as it was wired, plumbed and improved for immediate drilling.

Red Star is our long term development program. It isn’t long term because we expect production years out. When funded, the new vertical shaft will open some of the most geologically exciting ground in the district. It is necessary to complete this work. It will reduce underground travel time, haulage expense as well as put miners in two spots with a solid history for major pockets.

After running a drift in the old Empire mine on 24” gauge, I realized more advantages to switch to the wider gauge than drawbacks. Somewhere on this web site is much information about our plans and Red Star. Sorry for the quick reply.
 By fredmcain

04/16/2013  9:41AM

I have been trying to go back and read through all the old messages as time allows. I should have done that to begin with - I realize that.

One thing I was really wondering about, in one of Michael's earlier posts in this thread, he mentioned he wants to make the tracks a 24" gauge in "The New Red Star Mine".

What and where is the Red Star Mine and what is the status of that project?

Fred M. Cain
 By fredmcain

04/15/2013  9:33AM

Rae Bell,

Thanks for the tip. I am really interested in taking that tour with Mr. Miller. I think a tour like that would be worth every penny! It’s just that right now I’m not sure when I can come to California.


Fred M. Cain
 By Rae Bell

04/12/2013  3:27PM

Fred, You should contact Mike Miller about a tour. We used to have the "miner for a day" tour and it was $500. He might be able to set you up with something like that.

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