Mining History Association

Annual Conference, June 1-4, 1995

National Hotel

Nevada City, California

 

The 1995 MHA Conference was held June 1-4, 1995, in Nevada City and neighboring Grass Valley, CA, in the heart of the California Mother Lode Country.  The formal program sessions, Presidential Luncheon, and Awards Banquet were held in the historic National Hotel in Nevada City.  Built in 1854, the National is the oldest continuously-operated hotel in the State.

 

Nevada County has the distinction of producing the largest amount of gold in California valued at over $440 million (1848-1965).  During the gold rush period, Nevada City was known for its “coyote” or drift diggings, while Grass Valley became the center for lode mining.  The communities reflect their gold rush heritage in the numerous historic structures as well as the nearby State historic parks that interpret the mining era.

Several field trips and tours of historic mining sites provided opportunities to explore the history of the Mother Lode Country.  The first tour included the North Star Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum in Grass Valley and the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in North Broomfield.  The North Star Museum includes an array of mining equipment used in the area including a large operational water-driven Pelton Wheel and a detailed model of a gold dredge.  The Malakoff Diggins is an area of extensive placer and hydraulic mining on Humbug Creek, a tributary of the South Yuba River.  The mining village of North Bloomfield has been restored and interpreters provided a glimpse of the “diggings” at their height in 1876.

The second tour took the MHAers to Grass Valley and the Empire Mine State Historic Park.  The mine yards at the Empire include the much of the mine’s surface works and gave the visitors a look down the inclined shaft into the underground workings.  Of particular interest was the “secret room” containing a very large mine model constructed by the mine engineers to visualize the size and shape of the entire orebody including the workings of other mines, and plan future mining.  The sites of both a stamp mill and cyanide extraction plant are located nearby.  Another highlight of the tour was the restored home and gardens of the mine owner, William B. Bourn.

 

The third tour visited the small mining camps of Allegheny and Forest City, CA.  The tour participants had the option to do a walking tour of Allegheny, now home of the Underground Gold Miners Museum, or to take an underground tour of the Sixteen to One Mine.  The historic Sixteen to One has extensive underground workings and has recently been re-activated as a small mining enterprise.

Although the conference events were mostly in the Nevada City-Grass Valley area, many participants explored other parts of the Mother Lode on their own either for research or pleasure.  Highway 49 runs the length of the mining country and is well worth the effort to drive and explore such placer and hard rock camps as Columbia, Sonora, Jamestown, Sutter Creek, Plumas-Erueka, and many more.

 

(Based on excerpts from the Mining History News)

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

SOCIAL EVENTS

Welcoming Reception, Nevada City Brewery, June 1, 1995

 

Presidential Luncheon, National Hotel, June 2, 1995

Speaker: Duane Smith, “Those were the Days.”

 

Awards Banquet, National Hotel, June 2, 1995

Speaker: Don Hardesty, “Another View of Treasure Hill [, NV]: An Archaeological Glimpse.”

TOURS AND FIELD TRIPS (CLICK TO DISPLAY PHOTO GALLERIES)

North Star Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum, Grass Valley, CA, and Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, New Broomfield, CA, June 1, 1995. (Full-day trip with lunch)

Empire Mine State Historic Park and Grass Valley, CA, June 3, 1995. (Half-day trip with pasty lunch)

Allegheny and Forest City, CA and the Sixteen to One Underground Mine Tour, June 4, 1995. (Full-day trip with barbecue lunch)


VISITOR INFORMATION

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

Gold Rush Overview

Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

Empire Mine State Historic Park

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

South Yuba River State Park

Nevada County Historical Society

North Star Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum, Grass Valley, CA

Firehouse No. 1 Museum, Nevada City, CA

Searles Historical Library, Nevada City, CA

Underground Gold Miners Museum, Allegheny, CA

 

Sixteen to One Mine, Allegheny, CA

 

Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

 

Miners Foundry Cultural Center, Nevada City, CA

 

Grass Valley Museum (Historic St. Joseph Convent)

 

READINGS AND REFERENCES

Waldemar Lindgren, “Nevada City Special Folio, California,” USGS Geologic Atlas 29, (Washington: GPO, 1896).  Assessed September 4, 2013 on-line from http://pubs.usgs.gov/gf/029/cover.pdf (cover and explanatory pages), http://pubs.usgs.gov/gf/029/text.pdf (text Section), http://pubs.usgs.gov/gf/029/quad-1_economic.pdf (Grass Valley Economic Geology Map), http://pubs.usgs.gov/gf/029/quad-2_economic.pdf  (Nevada City Economic Geology Map), and http://pubs.usgs.gov/gf/029/quad-3_economic.pdf  (Banner Hill Economic Geology Map).  Additional map files for this Folio are available for download from the USGS.

W. D. Johnson, Jr., “The Gold Quartz Veins of Grass Valley, California,” USGS, Professional Paper 194, (Washington: GPO, 1940).  Assessed September 4, 2013 on-line from http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/0194/report.pdf .


ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Carmel Barry Meiserbach

William H. Mulligan

Linda Green

Rolla Queen

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Ophir Quartz Mill, Grass Valley, ca1866

 

 

Nevada City, ca1866

 

 

Hydraulic Mining, French Corral, ca1866

 

 

Rocky Bar Quartz Mill, ca1866

 

(Photographs courtesy Library of Congress)

PHOTO GALLERY

CLICK ON A PHOTO TO DISPLAY A LARGER IMAGE

MHAers investigate the outdoor exhibits of mining machinery at the North Star Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum, Grass Valley, CA.  Inside, the museum has the largest Pelton water wheel ever constructed.  It provided power to the mine.

 

The historic Sixteen to One gold mine in Allegheny, CA, was visited during the all-day field trip.  The mine had been reopened and a tour of the surface plant and underground workings was provided.

MHAers touring the surface facilities of the Sixteen to One Mine.

Tracks from a mining level are used to convey ore and waste rock to the surface.

The Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in North Bloomfield, CA, preserves the last of the large-scale hydraulic mining locations.  The restored village interprets the life of the miners and their families in the 1870s.

In the 1850s, prospectors found gold in Humbug Creek, a tributary of the South Yuba River.  Placer mining quickly gave way to hydraulic mining.  Hydraulic monitors (water cannons) loosened the gold bearing gravels which could then be directed to sluice boxes and the gold recovered.

 

Hydraulic mining caused large volumes of silt to flow down the South Yuba River, eventually making its way as far as San Francisco Bay.  Navigation and farming were impaired.  The environmental impact of the mining is still visible.

In 1884, a court decision prohibited the North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company from dumping tailings into the South Yuba river.  This ended the hydraulic mining era.

 

 

Photo Credits: Roger Burt and Mike Kaas

 


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