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.
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 .
Carmel Barry Meiserbach
William H. Mulligan
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Ophir Quartz Mill, Grass Valley, ca1866
Nevada City, ca1866
Hydraulic Mining, French Corral, ca1866
Rocky Bar Quartz Mill, ca1866
(Photographs courtesy Library of Congress)
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