Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.
The Original Sixteen to One Mine Preliminary Report June, 1980
Jack F. Havard. A professional engineer of mines prepared the following report for Rayrock Mines, Inc. in June 1980. Jack retired in Nevada City. A full biography will be included after it is compiled. I offer his report to you so you can gain the same appreciation that all of us have for this special gold deposit.
1.1 Purpose of the Report
The purpose of this report is to assemble information which is available concerning the properties of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc., Alleghany, California, action, if any, by Rayrock Mines, Inc., concerning the future of the properties.
This report is preliminary in nature because of restricted scope and limited time.
This report was authorized in a letter dated May 6, 1980, from D. R. Crombie, President, Rayrock Mines, Inc. to J. F. Havard, confirming a previous telephone conversation of May 6, 1980, which initiated the work.
Many persons have contributed information to this report. The following people have been especially helpful:
Herbert Benton Connor, Alameda, CA, Director, Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.
Louis L. Huelsdonk, Grass Valley, CA, retired, former Vice President and General Manager of the Ruby Mine.
Donald R. Dickey, Alleghany, CA, Manager, Dickey Exploration Company, Oriental Mine.
Gerri Gasch, Gasch & Associates, Sacramento, CA, consultants in geophysics specializing in high-resolution reflection seismic.
An investigation was made of the current status of the properties of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc., at Alleghany, Sierra County, California. The properties were examined in the field, the literature, and both inside and outside the company were searched, and numerous interviews were conducted.
The Sixteen to One Mine and nearby areas are under lease. The lessees have spent, they say, $756,000 on the property, and the evidence is that this is a minimum figure. Without any ore reserves developed, without any proven, probable or possible ore, they have built a new mill, and underground they have rehabilitated and retimbered thousands of feet of old drifts and crosscuts.
Dissension exists between leaser and lessee, and within each group. The lessee corporation is in bankruptcy court in Nevada.
The northern part of the Sixteen to One property is not under lease. It consists mostly of unpatented placer mining claims. It is interesting, because channel mining was conducted successfully in this ground, though mostly in the late 1800’s, and some possibility exists for the presence of unexplored gold-bearing channels.
This report makes recommendations, but it also attempts to provide a total base of information, so that Rayrock Mines personnel will have the opportunity to understand the history, geography, geology and mining practices in order to arrive at independent conclusions and recommendations.
This report recommends:
(a) Do not become involved in the southern claims and the Sixteen to One mine and mill.
(b) Conduct preliminary high-resolution seismic surveys on sections across the northern property to determine if unexplored channels are present. This would require negotiating a lease and option with the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. If distinct unmined channels were indicated, exploration would be continued on a step-by-step basis through additional seismic sections, drilling and mining. Lack of success at any step would terminate the program.
3.1 History of the District
The history of the Alleghany mining district begins with the discovery of coarse nuggets in the bed of a creek by a group of Hawaiian sailors in the spring of 1851. Appropriately, the creek was called Kanaka Creek. Its deep canyon has been the scene of intensive gold mining that continues to the present time. In the general area gold was found in the streams, probably as early as 1849.
The river bars were first mined, followed by exploitation of the Tertiary river gravels. Drift mining of the buried channels, first in Alleghany and then on a larger scale in nearby Forest, reached an initial production peak about 1861, but continued with another peak in the 1930’s at the Ruby Mine.
Mining of lode gold began in 1853 with a stamp mill placed in operation in 1858 at the Rainbow Mine in Kanaka Canyon. Miners exploiting the auriferous channels on bedrock discovered some veins, including the Rainbow. Lode mining was spotty from mine to mine because of the nature of the ore shoots. Peak production from the lode mines in the Alleghany district was reported in the year 1922 as 50,231 tons, valued at $1,710,521. With the gold price fixed at $20.67 an ounce, this meant a value of $34.05 per ton or 1.65 ounces per ton. Later discussions in this report will explain this high value.
In 1942, the gold mines were either shut down or extremely limited in production, because of War Production Board Order L-208. After the war, gold mining resumed on a reduced scale, gradually fading due to the fixed price of gold and increasing inflation of costs. The last major mine to shut down was the Sixteen to One, which ceased regular operation in December 1965, not only because of high costs, but also because of lack of ore. Only recently has gold mining been revived substantially, because of the high price of gold, although much of the activity in the district has been speculative and all of it has been on a small scale.
The following quotations are from Gold Mines of California by Jack R. Wagner, Chapter 14, The Original Sixteen to One Mine:
The Twenty-One was the first… to be developed and was in operation prior to 1868… but never made any notable production. About 1914 it was reopened by Hunt, the cannery man, who found high-grade ore in a new vein. What looked like good prospects were soon dashed to bits when a crew from the Sixteen to One suddenly broke into the Twenty-One workings, clearly showing, to the embarrassment of all, that both mines had been working on the same vein. The Sixteen to One brought suit for trespass against the Twenty-One in Federal Court in San Francisco, which in 1919 resulted in judgment for $93,000 against the Twenty-One. The owners found it simpler to dispose of the property, and the mine was purchased by the Sixteen to One for $60,000. The Twenty-One tunnel now forms part of the 800 level of the Sixteen to One.
… A three-way partnership was formed in 1891, motivated by an old-timer by the name of Jim McCormick. McCormick had remembered the bedrock vein that had been uncovered and ignored in the Knickerbocker (channel) tunnel nearly forty years before… the partners soon located the Contract and Contract Extension lodes which ran north and south of McCormick’s remembered vein. After driving farther north a small winze was sunk but the vein tightened, causing the mine to be dubbed the “Tight’ner” by the townspeople.
In 1903 Henderson L. Johnson took a lease and bond on the Tightner Mine…. Johnson decided to drift south… his first blast dislodged $20 worth of gold and it was soon apparent there was more where that came from. This discovery firmly established quartz mining at Alleghany…
Later a property known as the Eclipse Mine, situated north of Kanaka Creek, was purchased and the present Tightner Tunnel was run. This tunnel cut the vein at about 400 feet vertical depth below the old Knickerbocker Tunnel and later was cut through to connect with the Sixteen to One Mine at the 250-foot level.
In 1908 Johnson added a number of other properties, including the Rainbow, Red Star and Eldorado… Johnson sold out (1911).
The New Tightner Mines Company continued to be a profitable operation under the direction of J. M. O’Brien and A. D. Foote…
Foote and O’Brien operated the Tightner Mine and its twenty-stamp mill until 1918, producing a total of $3,000,000 from which $500,000 was paid out in dividends.
In 1919 the Alleghany Mining Company, an organization put together by Fred Searls, Jr who later became president of the worldwide Newmont Mining Corporation, reopened the Tightner Mine… Under their direction the Tightner produced some $600,000 in gold during the next four years. Unfortunately for the Tightner people it soon became apparent that the Tightner and Sixteen to One veins were one and the same. Costly litigation was avoided when an agreement was reached… the entire mine was sold in 1924 to the Sixteen to One.
For a mine that was destined to produce millions, the Sixteen to One Mine had a rather inauspicious beginning. The property was originally owned by the Rainbow Mine, but was never deemed worthy of development. The portion later to be known as the Sixteen to One was located by Thomas Bradbury from an outcropping in his own back yard. That was in 1896, the same year William Jennings Bryan, as a delegate to the National Convention, wrote the Silver Plank in the platform which advocated that coins be minted with 16 parts of silver and one part of gold…
In 1911 the Bradbury brothers and Yeates Lawson…made an agreement with J.G. Jury and W.I. Smart to lease the property with an option to buy. Jury and Smart, with the addition of H. K. Montgomery, organized that same year as the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc… It was this company that operated the mine for 54 years, right down to its final days.
During its heyday, it was not uncommon for a pound of ore to yield $50 in gold, and single shoots would produce anywhere from $200,000 to a million… dividends totaling $1,238,501 had been paid up to 1924. In 1934 alone bullion receipts were $578,000 with dividends of $287,000…
During the postwar years, the Rainbow and Sixteen to One Mines were purchased. Also acquired was the Tightner Mines Company, which still controlled the Red Star property. (Thus the Sixteen to One gained control over the old Bald Mountain channel mines. –JFH)
The Sixteen to One now owned the most promising group of mining properties in the Alleghany district, but unfortunately continually rising costs and the gradual exhaustion of the developed portions of the mine resulted in the depletion of working capital.
During the last year or so of operations, the mine payroll had been reduced to 12 to 15 men and the work had been more or less exploratory rather than producing. The management sought that one long chance of finding ore of a high enough grade to warrant continued operation in the face of terrifying costs.
The end finally came at the December 9, 1965 meeting, in San Francisco, of the mine’s board of directors. With President Walter Stinson presiding, the directors reluctantly voted to close the mine.
When the Sixteen to One acquired the Tightner Company, with its Red Star property, the Sixteen to One gained control of the Bald Mountain lands and the old channel mines.
The same stockholders, or their descendants, some 300 of them, still own the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc., a California corporation, but the officers have been wracked with dissension and troubles persisting into June, 1980. Additional problems surrounded the lease to the Sixteen to One Mining Corporation, a Nevada corporation, now in bankruptcy court.
4.1 Location, Transportation, Utilities
The Sixteen to One Mine is located at Alleghany, Sierra County, California, and its properties extend from south of the town of Alleghany to north of the town of Forest. (See Map 1, pocket.)
Alleghany perches high on the south rim of the Kanaka Creek canyon, and Forest snuggles into the woods at the junction of the north and south forks of Oregon Creek. Between the two little towns rises Pliocene Ridge with its long flat top. Alleghany lies in Section 34, Township 19 North, Range 10 East, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian, and at about Latitude 39 degrees 28’ North and Longitude 120 degrees 50’ West.
Elevations range from 3600 feet in Kanaka Creek to 5200 feet on Pliocene Ridge.
The nearest sizable town is Nevada City, population 2500, about 35 miles southeast by road, and the county seat is Downieville, 6 miles due north, but also some 35 miles away by paved road. Nevada City is the headquarters for Tahoe National Forest.
Only one paved road, State Highway 180, reaches into this country, branching on Pliocene Ridge to serve both Alleghany and Forest. It originates from State Highway 49 near the Oregon Creek campground. A second paved road is now under construction, improving the famous Henness Pass road to the east, which was a noted pioneer route. It will run into Highway 180 at the Alleghany-Forest Junction.
The only electric utility services in the area is provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company with two 2300-volt transmission lines intersecting on Pliocene Ridge between Alleghany and Forest.
The climate is characterized by four distinct seasons. The winters can be long and cold, accompanied by heavy snows. The spring and fall are generally delightful, with heavy rains in the spring. Summer is warm with frequent hot afternoons. Overall, the climate is pleasing and most work can continue efficiently the year round.
The geography is typical of the intermediate elevation of the Sierra Nevada, the zone between the high Sierra and the low foothills. The topography is characterized by long ridges running northeasterly to southwesterly. The small streams are generally parallel to the ridges, but the big streams, such as the branches of the Yuba River, run both with and across the ridge system.
This west slope of the Sierra Nevada at this altitude is largely covered by a coniferous forest, principally ponderosa pine, but with significant numbers of firs, oaks and maples. Manzanita makes a brush cover in areas of scanty timber. The logging industry is active in the area.
Evidence of gold mining is prominent throughout the area. Currently, small mines are active; usually a few entrepreneurs are operating without technical advice. Tourism is evident in the summer, and hobbyists still pan the gravels at the rivers for fun and a little gold.
Two sizable gold mines are currently in operation with crews on the order of 8 to 10 men:
The Oriental Mine, a profitable operation owned and managed by Donald R. Dickey.
The Plumbago Mine, reportedly with ore, developed and reportedly involved in a legal tangle of serious proportions.
5.1 Geology of the District
The Alleghany mining district lies on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada between the high peaks of the crest and the low foothills bordering the Sacramento Valley. In its simplest expression, the Sierra Nevada is a tilted fault block with the steep up thrown slope near and in the state of Nevada. In the Alleghany area, the surface of the slope is composed of Tertiary volcanic rocks dipping westward. This relatively smooth slope has been cut sharply by westward flowing streams, which have exposed the underlying formations of Paleozoic, and later ages in deep canyons. The massive Sierra Nevada “granites” lie both to the east and to the west of this district.
Geologists have long divided the rocks of the area into two groups, convenient to discussions of both geology and mining:
(a) The Bedrock Series, consisting of metamorphosed, folded and faulted sedimentary and volcanic rocks, Carboniferous age, and of later intrusive rocks. This series is the home of the quartz lode mines.
(b) The Superjacent Series, consisting of Tertiary gravel and Andes tic breccias, in one location overlain by basalt probably of Pleistocene age. This series is the home of the hydraulic and channel mines.
The Bedrock Series outcrops in the canyons while the Superjacent Series covers the ridges.
The quartz veins are found in the Bedrock Series and the gold-bearing channels are found in the Tertiary stream gravels underneath the volcanic capping.
5.1.1 Bedrock Series
The Bedrock Series in the Alleghany district belongs to what is generally termed the Calaveras Formation, but consists of five formations, lying in this order from older to younger and from east to west: Blue Canyon Formation, Tightner Formation, Kanaka Formation, Relief Quartzite and Cape Horn Slate. The Tightner and Kanaka Formations are the only ones out-cropping on the property of the actual Sixteen to One Mine.
The Tightner Formation was named after the Tightner Mine (now a part of the Sixteen to One property), and it forms the principal wall rock in the mine. At this point the Tightner is in fault contact with the older Blue Canyon Formation. Ferguson and Gannett described the Tightner as consisting “predominately of fine-grained greenish schist with varying amounts of quartz. Where least metamorphosed, this schist has the appearance of an altered lava or tuff. The bulk of the schist is too highly metamorphosed to permit definite conclusions as to the original rock.”
The Kanaka Formation is found west of the Tightner and may overlie it uncomfortably. Ferguson and Gannett describes its constituent members as follows from bottom to top:
Conglomerate Member: “ranges in texture from a black slate with sparsely scattered pebbles to a coarse irregular conglomerate in which abundant pebbles and boulders are surrounded by a matrix of black slate.”
Lower Slate and Greenstone Member: “a series of interbedded dark slates and chloritic greenstones.”
Chart Member: “a band consisting dominantly of dense gray contorted chert, the individual bands averaging a couple of inches in thickness… also contains a considerable amount of black slate interbedded with the cherty bands…”
Upper Slate and Greenstone Member: “a succession of slate and greenstone… a distinct increase in proportion of slate towards the west.”
In its position within the Melones Fault Zone, the Alleghany district includes massive, distinctive and significant serpentine. Ferguson and Gannett write: “Two large masses extend across the entire district along the eastern and western margins, and many smaller dikes cut the older rocks in the area between them…
5.1.3. Superjacent Series
After the tectonic activity, intrusions and deposition of gold in the early Mesozoic, a long period of erosion was introduced in the early Cretaceous. The mountains were reduced, and the streams cut the gold-bearing quartz veins, concentrating the gold in the channels. Near the end of the Eocene the topography approached old age.
Then the land became disturbed by major volcanic eruptions and flows from the east, which were to continue intermittently until the Pleistocene. Interludes deposited extensive gravels and volcanic debris -- interludes, which at times were so vigorous, they cut down through the original Tertiary channels, removing gold and reconcentrating it.
The last volcanic activity is represented by the basalt flows, which cap Bald Mountain.
The present topography was developed on a surface of largely volcanic rock and bears no relationship to the Bedrock Series. Erosion has exposed this series and most of the geologic column in the deep canyons of the modern streams.
5.2 Quartz Veins
The quartz veins of the Sixteen to One Mine are typical of the Alleghany district and have been the most productive of gold in the district. The Sixteen to One vein is the dominant feature at the mine, but several other veins, originally considered independent, join it: the Twenty-one, Ophir, Tightner and others.
The Sixteen to One Vein occupies an east-dipping reverse fault, with several hundred feet of displacement, which is part of the echelon east-dipping reverse fault system of the district. The veins, here as elsewhere, are dominated by structure and ignore the country rock except for its mechanical properties. The country rocks are mostly the schists of the upper Tightner, the Kanaka conglomerate and some significant serpentine bodies. Most of the rock is hard and brittle, the exception being the serpentine, which behaves in a plastic manner.
The vein strikes about N 21 degrees W and has been mined over 4000 feet on its strike. It dips at an average of 38 degrees to the east and has been mined to 3000 feet on the slope.
The relationship of the vein system to events of the Sierra Nevada origin are not pertinent to the report, but the sequence of mineralization is interesting in the consideration of gold occurrence.
H.R. Cooke, Jr. made a thorough study of the Sixteen to One vein (H. R. Cooke, Jr., The Original Sixteen to One Gold Quartz Vein, Alleghany, California, Economic Geology, Vol 42, No. 3, 1947).
Concerning the ore minerals, he writes:
Occurrence-Ore minerals form less than 2% of the volume of the vein, and are about equally common in massive quartz in fractures, inclusions, or ribbons. They generally are clustered around large grains of pyrite, sphalerite, or tetrahedrite, but arsenopyrite, gold, and galena often occur alone or in combination. The only ore minerals in appreciable amounts in wall rock are fine-grained pyrite, arsenopyrite, and pyrrhotite. All ore minerals are hypo gene except for traces of convellite and possibly a little chalcopyrite or boride. The only evidence of zoning is unusually abundant pyrite in the schist of several lower levels, accompanied by a slight tendency for gold to be more evenly disseminated through the vein.
Five factors seem outstanding in localizing ore minerals:
1. Fractures: the main channel ways for flow of ore solutions…
2. Carbonate: the mineral probably most replaced by ore minerals…
3. Quartz: controlling deposition of ore minerals by its resistance to replacement….
4. Early ore minerals: tending to be replaced by later ore minerals…
5. Graphitic gouge: tending to restrain ore solutions from invading wall rock.
Gold was the last ore mineral to be deposited and displays marked inability to replace quartz and earlier ore minerals. Gold generally occurs alone in quartz on grain boundaries or in fractures, and in very rich specimens floods quartz, where it probably replaced carbonate intrusions… occurs with galena… often partly surrounds and fills fractures in arsenopyrite…
The average grade of the whole vein is too low for profitable mining, which means that more high-grade must be found than in random mining of the vein…
The Sixteen to One high-grade is richer than any other for which I have seen comparable data. Scattered in a vein otherwise assaying about 0.04 oz., several hundred shoots have been mined, producing up to 78,000 oz. each and running from 2,000 – 6,000+ oz., or on the order of 100,000 times richer than adjoining vein areas.
Dr. Cooke points out that 608,012 plus tons had been mined from the vein through 1942, yielding 749,179 plus ounces of gold. The hand-sorted high-grade, weighing only about 164 tons and constituting only 0.027% of the tonnage mined, produced 548,759 plus ounces of gold or almost three-fourths (73.25%) of the gold yielded.
In summary, when pockets are found the mine is rich; when pockets are not found the mine is destitute. This is the history of the Sixteen to One Mine and many of its smaller neighbors.
5.3 Gold-Bearing Gravels
Perhaps as early as Cretaceous time in northern California, a strong new river system stretched from the high peaks of the ancient Sierra Nevada to the sea in what is now the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley. The rivers tended to flow north or south behind ridges and then to turn west by cutting through the ridges. The greatest of their systems was the ancient Yuba, and some of its tributaries flowed southerly through Sierra County.
These rivers originated in the high Sierra of that period, probably not far from the present crest, and they eroded gold-bearing veins. The gold was deposited in the lower courses of the river and even out into the delta in what is now the Great Valley.
These streams are now called the Tertiary streams. The classic and unsurpassed description is the work of Waldemar Lindgren, The Tertiary Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California, USGS Professional Paper 73, Washington, 1911.
As the Tertiary streams neared maturity and the deposition of gold had essentially ceased, a period of volcanic eruptions began in the Sierra crest zone. First came rhyolitic flows and then andesitic flows. The Sierra block began to rise again, and the rivers gained in erosive power, cutting down through all the lavas and actually through the older Tertiary gravels into bedrock. These are the intervolcanic channels which will be referred to later.
The last major volcanic episode resulted in flows of basalt, perhaps as late as the Pleistocene, which remain as capping at the higher elevations. Such a basalt capping covers Bald Mountain, Figure 5, which will be discussed later.
Finally, as the tilting of the Sierra block continued, new rivers started carving new canyons in a southwesterly direction and initiating the present topography. These new river systems cut down through the lavas, down through the old river channels and down into bedrock. In this process, they freed gold and deposited it in suitable places in their beds, providing the rewarding places exploited by the Forty-Niners and their followers. For the benefit of later miners, they also exposed the old riverbeds and the quartz veins of the bedrock system.
All of these phenomena are highly evident on the properties of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.
1. The Lease
After the Sixteen to One Mine was closed in December 1965, some leases were given for mining purposes, but the current lease is a successor to “permit to prospect,” granted to Tim Sapp and his son Timmy in 1971 and renewed each year through 1976. The Sapps are local loggers and contractors.
On April 12, 1976 the Original Sixteen to One Company granted a more extensive lease to Lawrence L. Sapp (Tim) and Timothy L. Sapp (Timmy), lessees. This is the lease now in effect. On April 26, 1976 the Sapps assigned the lease to the Sixteen to One Mining Corporation, a Nevada corporation, including “all of their right, title and interest.” The Sapps were to be the operators with a 50% interest. The first investors were a Pasadena group brought in by a promoter named Max Becker of North Hollywood. They invested about $265,000 according to Mr. Sapp. They wanted to get out so Mr. Becker interested a group of Japanese businessmen in Hawaii who bought out the Pasadena group and put up more money.
Lode Mining at the Sixteen to One
In horizontal projection, the Sixteen to One Mine, not including barren exploratory drifts to the north and south, occupies an area of 4000 feet north-south and 2000 feet east-west, or about 180 acres. The vein system dips an average of about 45 degrees, but many variations are found. Also the Sixteen to One, Tightner, Twenty-One and the Ophir veins merge, a phenomenon which led to serious legal problems in past mining.
The 49 winze extends from the 1300-foot level to the 2400-foot level, and some thought has been given to raising it to the surface. Other smaller winzes were sunk for local access and transportation.
In the later years of the mine, most ore was hoisted from the 2400 to the 1300 in the 49 winze, trammed northward to the Sixteen to One “shaft,” hoisted to the 250 and then trammed 400 feet out the portal to the mill. Now, both the Sixteen to One and the Tightner “shafts” are badly caved in places and deterioration continues.
Ventilation was mostly natural. Pumping was required below the 800-foot level. Jacklegs and stoppers were used for drilling. Eimco air mockers handled much in the drifts and slushers handled ore in the sopes. Small storage battery locomotives (Mancha Little Trammers) hauled one-ton side-dump ore cars. A compressed air trammer hauled ore to the mill.
Pumping has ceased and the mine is flooded almost to the 800-foot level, the drainage “tunnel.”
The Sapps did pump out water to the 1100-foot level but found the mine “all stoped out, pillars taken and mine gutted.” Then their pumps failed and pumping was not renewed.
An interesting sidelight is that some people ran a six-month experiment in trying to recover gold from mine water on the 800-foot level, using a new invention. The experiment was a failure after $25,000 had been spent, according to Mr. Sapp.
The California Journal of Mines and Geology, Vol. 38, No. 1, January 1942, describes the mine. Some pertinent excerpts:
The mine continues to produce most of its gold from high-grade ore, and 70 percent of the work in the mine is what would ordinarily be called development work. Drifts are run along the footwall and raises are put up not less than 200 feet apart on the footwall. Whenever prospects of free gold are found, raises are also driven in or near these prospects. For economical mining it has been determined that levels should not be more than 200 feet apart on the dip of the vein….
No quartz is put on the dump but all broken quartz is milled. Daily tonnage is 120, and the cost of putting this broken quartz was reduced to 79 cents per ton for the year 1939… Total cost of mining, milling and development work is $6.50 to $7 per ton of ore…
The entire returns from the mill amount to only one-third of the total production from the property. The other two-thirds of the production comes from high-grade ore which is amalgamated in Berdan pans and which yields about 99% of its gold to amalgamation. Tailing from this operation is shipped to the smelter. The total number of men employed is 95, of whom 65 work underground.
Channel Mining at Bald Mountain
On the property of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Tertiary channels and later intervolcanic channels are present under Bald Mountain, under Oregon Creek, under Pliocene Ridge and outcropping above Kanaka Creek. The area of the northern property is roughly two square miles, about a mile east west and two miles north south.
The channels have been extensively worked in the Bald Mountain area through the Bald Mountain Extension “Tunnels” and have been explored by the long South Fork “Tunnel.” Much of this channel mining was accomplished before 1900 and as early as 1869. The Original Sixteen to One Company acquired the unpatented placer and lode claims covering most of the gravels from various owners in the year 1942. The Company did open the Bald Mountain tunnel in the 1960’s and tried to develop the Copeland veins, partly under an O.E.M. grant, but the endeavor was unsuccessful.
Extensive interviews have been conducted on three separate occasions, in May 1980, with Louis C. Huelsdonk of Grass Valley, who was vice president and general manager of the Ruby Mining Company, until the Ruby Mine was closed by wartime regulations in October 1942. The Ruby Mine was the largest channel mine of modern times, and its properties adjoin the Bald Mountain claims on the latter’s north boundary. Mr. Huelsdonk is the leading authority on channel mining today and is still active in consultation and advice. He has also had a distinguished career of public service to the mining industry of California. His views on the location of channels on the Bald Mountain claims are contrary to those of Mr. Taylor, as explained later in this report.
In January 1942, the California Journal of Mine and Geology (State Division of Mines) carried the following information on the Bald Mountain Mine:
Bald Mountain Mine (Bald Mountain Mining Company) consists of 450 acres unpatented in sec. 15, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, T. 19 N., R. 10 E., at Forest, owned by Heitzen Estate and N. E. McGregor, Downieville.
It was discovered in 1869 by a shaft 268 ft. deep. A bedrock tunnel 1800 ft. was run to this point in two years. The cost of putting the property on a paying basis, in 1872, was $20,000. From that time until 1887 the total production was $3,100,000; the net profit of $1,300,000 was divided among 20 stockholders. The mine was closed in 1887, but Mark N. Alling of Downieville started some work in 1914 and W. F. Copeland of Alameda, and $60,000 is said to have been extracted.
Mr. Huelsdonk says the Ruby ore averaged about $5.75 a cubic yard, which with gold at $35.00 an ounce yielded a good profit. (This would be 0.16-ounce ore per cubic yard or perhaps 0.12-ounce ore per short ton!)
None of the quartz veins cut by the extensive Ruby workings ever developed into a mine.
A new channel mine, the Miller Gold Mine, has been opened only two miles north of Angels Camp, California, by the Miller Mining Company, Inc. It lies in an area long noted for both lode and channel mines, the latter including the Calaveras Central, one of the largest drift mines in the state. An inclined shaft is being sunk and modern rubber-tired equipment is being used.
The mine is expected to operate two 10-hour shifts and produce 1080 tons a day at 0.20 ounces per ton recovered. Operation cost per day is estimated at $12,270 or $11.36 per ton. Machinery and equipment pay-off is rated at $1.06 per ton. Daily income should be $86,400 with gold at $400 or $80 per ton, indicating a handsome profit. Time will tell.
All of these figures have been publicly announced by Miller Mining Company. There is no documentation whatsoever for the spectacular 0.20 ounce grade or for the reserve figures. This makes all the figures suspect.
The only point of the Miller story is that modern mining equipment can be adapted to channel mining, and if the gold is there, the results could be good.
The Sixteen to One Mill
The old Mill was a typical stamp mill for free-milling gold ore. The stamps were ultimately replaced with a ball mill. This entire plant was sold after the mine shut down in 1965, with only the remains of a 10-stamp battery left in place.
The current lessees, the Sixteen to One Mining Company, felt impelled by their lease to build a mill. According to Tim Sapp, the Pasadena group insisted that certain equipment be installed, including two hammer mills and some gold-saving equipment, all apparently of unconventional design. The Sapps built the mill, and it was a failure. According to Sapp, the hammer mills wore out in the first fifteen minutes of operation. All this unconventional equipment was torn out and the mill rebuilt, still without any proven reserves.
The Sapps then purchased a used Hardinge conical mill from Morse Machinery Company in Denver for $20,000, transported it themselves with their own flatbed, installed it and relined it. They added a 225 h.p. motor. The mill is therefore overpowered and is of course vastly oversized for the plant.
Possibilities for Additional Ore
The principal reason for studying the properties of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. is to assess the possibilities for the presence of additional ore—commercially mineable ore reserves.
Two entirely different types of ore must be considered:
Lodes -- mostly exploited near Kanaka Creek in The Sixteen to One Mine, mostly included in the present lease, but perhaps extending northward into the unleased area.
Channels-- mostly exploited in the Bald Mountain area, mostly explorable in that area and mostly free of the present lease.
The Sixteen to One Mine was closed in December 1965 after desperate efforts to locate new ore bodies without a comprehensive, well-financed exploration plan. The mine even participated in a government-financed program in 1965 as an aid to finding more ore. Today, the Sixteen to One can show no proven, probable or possible ore.
Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to examine theories offered by geologists and mining engineers on how best to search for additional reserves:
USGS Professional Paper 172, p. 60 (1932)
...The Alleghany district stands alone among the districts of the California gold belt in its peculiar type of ore shoots, so that no analogy based on the persistence of ore to great depths in such districts as Grass Valley and the mother Lode region is pertinent…. The gold has been deposited from hypo gene solutions and is in no way dependent upon either the present surface or the surface as it existed prior to the outflow of lava, and there is no reason to anticipate impoverishment in depth on this account. It is possible, however, that there may be a change in the character of the ore with greater depth. The wider distribution of gold in the lower levels of The Sixteen to One Mine, as shown by the data given on page 52, is perhaps an indication that with greater depth the gold will tend to occur in larger shoots of lower grade….
In conclusion, the authors are of the opinion that there is no reason indicated by the present study why the mines should not prove equally productive to a much greater depth than had been reached at the time the field study was made. This opinion is, of course, not meant to be taken as an encouragement to deep exploration of a vein in which shallow development has revealed nothing of promise.
Report on Rainbow Mine by M.R. Lancaster, 1909
(The Rainbow is part of the Sixteen to One property south of Kanaka Creek):
I should say, therefore, that the only manner in which to prospect for pay ore would be to select points where the ledge shows a good body of quartz, and to open these blocks by drives and raises.
Willard P. Fuller, Jr., San Andreas, California, August 29, 1965.
(in a letter to the president of the Sixteen to One from a mining geologist who spent 2&1/2 years at the mine (1951-1953):
……. It is my opinion that the Alleghany district in general and the properties of the Sixteen to One Mine in particular probably represent the most favorable ground in California for the exploration for new gold ore bodies that can be mined profitably in today’s economy….
Utilizing the surface plant and the existing mine openings, Mr. Fuller proposes development as follows:
1. Northerly, down the rake of the north ore bodies below the 1500 level, in the Red Star claim…..
2. Southerly, down the rake of the ore bodies in the southern part of the mine, below the 2400 level and south of the “49 winze”…..
Then he goes on to say:
A much more comprehensive exploration campaign should, when finances permit, be undertaken to prospect the northerly continuation of this entire vein zone….. With more than 1&1/2 miles of a major vein system barely touched by mining up to now because of the deep Tertiary cover, and with geological conditions very similar to the mile already developed by the consolidated Sixteen to One Mine workings, this exists as one of the most promising areas for development of gold-bearing quartz veins in the district. It would probably be more feasible to develop this portion of the Sixteen to One holdings from the town of Forest, rather than from the Alleghany side of the ridge….
C. W. McClung, Mountain Copper Company, 1960
In his “Recommendations and Conclusions"
Basically, our proposal for reviving the Sixteen to One Mine is to have the present mine provide the funds for the major share of the cost of exploring and developing a new mine. This would be accomplished by doing first limited renovation of underground workings, surface plant and mill and then systematically stripping the mine of possible ore shoots (second guesses), shaft and stope pillars and drift sills and crown pillars. It is assumed that this program, which cannot be evaluated by conventional means, would provide the money from short range operating profits needed for extensive exploration and development which must be done if the Sixteen to One is again to become a long-lived profitable mine.
Eldon Dennis, geologist, two reports on the Rainbow Mine, 1935.
After diamond drilling, dip needle surveying and geologic mapping, Mr. Dennis makes recommendations for some detailed small-scale exploration in the Rainbow and then writes, “I am inclined to look with more favor on the possibilities of production from the unexplored area beneath the lava cap.” He refers to the ridge south of Kanaka Creek.
H.R. Cooke, Jr., The Original Sixteen to One Quartz Vein, Alleghany, California, Economic Geology, Vol. 42, No. 3, 1947. Extracts from the abstract:
"Extremely rich gold shoots are scattered in the Sixteen to One vein in otherwise barren quartz. The main result of this study is the recognition of some structural features that might guide exploration for ore shoots….
The most significant findings are: (1) high-grade commonly follows late shears on or near the vein walls, especially the foot-wall, or crosses the vein diagonally up dip on intravein shears and ribbons: (2) The high-grade distribution accords with that of openings expectable from the reverse movement indicated: high-grade is most abundant where the vein is flatter than adjacent areas along both strike and dip and virtually lacking in corresponding steep areas; serpentinite and cross faults partly localized by serpentinite steepened the vein shear zone: much high-grade occurs in complementary flats and near cross-fault intersections."
This paper, condensed from a Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, is outstanding for its detailed observations but is not helpful in regard to exploration for major deposits.
R.W. Wittkopp, An Hypothesis for the Localization of Gold in Quartz Veins, Alleghany District, California. Presented at a conference on California minerals sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Section of the Society of Mining Engineers, A.I.M.E., March, 1980
… The present hypothesis proposes that ore bearing and mineralizing solutions did not move up the quartz veins, but moved up along the serpentinite contact forming the mariposite bearing rock. When the ore bearing solutions came in contact with the quartz veins mineralization took place near the contact….
The location of high-grade pockets within the quartz veins is usually related to such structural features as change in thickness of the vein, split in the vein, intersection of the vein with other veins or fractures or change in dip or strike of the vein.
Raymond Martin Coveney, Jr., Gold Mineralization at the Oriental Mine, Alleghany, California,
A P.H.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan, 1972.
Note: The Oriental Mine is located about one mile west of the Sixteen to One; it is a profitable, well operated small mine, with about an eight-man crew; the mine is owned and managed by Donald R. Dickey, an engineer; its country rock is distinctly different from the Sixteen to One, but the gold is deposited in somewhat the same manner. Extracts from the abstract:
…The chief metallic mineral accompanying the gold is arsenopyrite. Graphite is a constant but less abundant associate of the ore.
Alteration has accompanied ore deposition and can be divided into two distinct zones: an outer pervasive zone of sericitization and albitization (steatization in the serpentine) and an inner, more restricted envelope of carbonatization and silica removal.
The serpentinite in the mine contains awaruite (FeNi2) whose occurrence is probably related to highly reducing conditions accompanying serpentinization. Mass spectrometric analyses indicate the presence of H2S gas in the serpentinite. It is postulated that H2 from the serpentinite reacted with the gold complexes present in the ore fluids to precipitate the gold in the vicinity of that wall rock. Reaction between this gas and the caronatized wall rock is believed to be responsible for the formation of hydrothermal graphite…..
It is inferred from field evidence that neither the granite exposed in the mine nor any closely related intrusive could be responsible for the origin of the ore bodies. Estimates of the amount of material (such as silica) removed from or added to various parts of the vein-alteration system allow for most of the major components to be derived from the country rocks. However, crude calculations based upon assumed original gold contents in the wall rocks are inconclusive as to the source of the gold.
Dr. Coveney’s theory concerning the role of H2S is suspect in it and he certainly does not offer help in the search for new ore bodies except for the well-known association of ore bodies with serpentinite.
Donald R. Dickey, Oriental Mine. Mr. Dickey uses core drilling for determining structure, particularly to find parallel echelon veins characteristic of the Oriental vein system. When he locates favorable structure he must then resort to exploration by mining.
He also has had some success in utilizing a magnetometer to define serpentine bodies, and, after considerable effort in geochemistry, he has found arsenic to be a dependable indicator under proper topographic conditions.
Mr. Dickey is no longer mining in the Oriental Mine proper, but is exploiting a parallel structure. He runs a small operation, produces gold and maintains a reserve which would permit him to explore for a year without income from mining. He knows how bleak the prospects can become when the known pockets are worked out.
The Oriental vein system is an anomaly in the district – it strikes east west, dips to the north and contacts granite.
J. F. Harvard, discussion for this Report, June 1980
Opinion is clearly divided on the question of additional auriferous gravel which might be commercially mined in the Bald Mountain claim area. The key people in the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc., naturally tend to be optimistic, although that company has never undertaken serious exploration for auriferous channels.
George F. Taylor expressed the optimistic viewpoint in letters written in November and December 1907, to James H. Hurin, Manager, Rio Antiguo Mining Company, Los Angeles. Mr. Taylor was a civil engineer, and U.S. deputy mineral surveyor, licensed land surveyor, and county surveyor for Sierra County. His comments are reflected in the two maps, Maps 6 and 7. The writer has colored Map 7 to match Mr. Taylor’s descriptions. Mr. Taylor wrote on November 10, 1907:
The region abounds in ancient auriferous gravel channels of many different ages or periods, which may be distinguished one from the other by their different elevations and the character of the material they contain. The most noted of these channels is the famous “blue Lead” that can be traced from Southern Plumas County through and across Sierra County and into Nevada County. This channel crosses the Western end of the South Fork claim where it has been worked out.
The workings of the old Bald Mountain Mine were principally on this channel. This channel is colored red on the map. Another channel shown on the map in green, and marked “Deep Channel not worked,” runs through the Bald Mountain ground and into the South Fork. The presence and extent of this channel is determined at various places by developments made by the Bald Mountain tunnel, which crossed the channel in two places by developments made by the bald Mountain tunnel, which crossed the channel in two places in both of which shafts were sunk into the channel. At one point a small portion of the channel was breasted (see map) and this breast is said to have been extremely well, but on account of the large amount of water in the channel, it was not practical to work it through the 60-foot shaft from the Bald Mountain tunnel. This is probably the same channel as that marked “small channel” crossed by the South Fork tunnel, the difference in size being due to the fact that the Bald Mountain and Extension tunnels crossing the channel 60 feet above bedrock shows the width between rims at that elevation, while the South Fork tunnel shows actual width of gravel.
This channel was worked by the Ruby people north of the Bald Mountain lines.
Another channel, shown by dotted blue line on the map, leaves the Ruby claim where it has been extensively worked at good profit, and extends through the Bald Mountain Extension, South Fork and Maple Grove, into the Red Star, where it has also been worked to a large extent, and where pay gravel is said to still exist in large quantities.
The Eureka tunnel on the Red Star Claim is now being reopened for the purpose of working this gravel and developing the Tightner Quartz Ledge, which also crosses that claim.
Mr. Dickey has been interested in prospecting for channel gold on the Sixteen to One north property. Several years ago he offered $50,000 for a lease with royalty provisions, but his offer was rejected by the directors of the Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.
He believes there may be undiscovered, unworked gold-bearing channels in the area, although he says that only fragments of channels may be found.
Channel mine planning involves an understanding of the sedimentary process in streams. The problems are not simple as W.H. Twenhofel wrote (Principles of Sedimentation, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1950):
All streams are crooked, largely because of varying resistance to erosion of banks and beds….. Crooked streams alternately impinge on opposite banks, and the threads of maximum velocities follow serpentine courses that are more corked than the channels in which they flow….
As a current crosses from one concave bank to the one next below there are some factors that tend to modify turbulence with the result that there may be either losses or gains in capacity and competency. This may produce deposition and building up; or erosion and lowering of the bottom….
Such phenomena were known in a practical way to the old channel miners, and they knew that gold could be found on the bottom, or on the banks or on higher benches, depending on the natural behavior of the stream.
So, in the end, actual underground exploration must be utilized to test the commerciality of a channel.
The conclusion drawn by the writer of this report is that a reasonable possibility exists for the presence of additional channels or pieces of channels in the north property of the Sixteen to One. Mr. Taylor’s contemporary comments carry an air of conviction and close observation. Mr. Huelsdonk is far better informed, but he has never worked the Sixteen to One ground. Mr. Dickey is as optimistic as a next-door neighbor.
A powerful new low-cut tool is available today for learning the presence and location of channels – modern high-resolution seismic exploration. A 7500-foot test section could be run for $15,000. Two sections for $30,000 would be more revealing.
If no channels are outlined by seismic means, the issue is closed. If channels are located, further seismic work would be conducted. The churn drilling could be used to delineate more closely the courses and to identify the nature of the gravels or fillings – but not the gold content. Actual underground exploration within the channel is the only way to determine gold content, mining methods and costs.
J. F. Havard
© 2017 Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.