Miners' Homework Pays Off (Part 2)

(Top: Old mining artifacts near mine; Bottom: Close up of gold ore from "Blackberry Mine." For more photos of Greg and Ken's recent mining adventure, check out their website at http://www.yoreplacermine.com/placer_gg13_019.htm )

In Part 1 of this series of posts I told you how Greg Gomes' and Ken Stewart's mining homework paid off for them. I now continue with their tale of gold discovery and adventure at their "Blackberry Mine" site in
California's southern Motherlode region.

Here's what Greg has to say about their second trip into the mining boonies. First, some advice:

Step 1: "Do your homework!"

Step 2: "Check your gear."

Step 3: "Recheck your gear."

Step 4: "Worry that you forgot something."

Step 5:
"Go back because you did forget something!"

No Two Mines Are the Same

"You must walk yourself into an area mentally from start to finish if you want an expedition to end with success. That is what we did on our second trip to our forgotten 'Blackberry Mine' site."

"J.R., I have never found a mine that was cut the same as another. This mine had all of the signs of being healthy and stable...after all it was a solid rock-walled mine, what could possibly go wrong?"

"My Recent Observations Were Deceiving"

"I explained to my posse of 4 what I was going to do and how far I was to travel into the mine. With my son at the mine entrance as my relay, I made a number of small incursions into the tunnel and found my recent observations were deceiving."

Where to Find Placer Gold

"The presence of old square set timbers suggested load-bearing problems in the 'Blackberry Mine.' The fact that some of these were burned suggested that a fire had consumed a portion of the mine. Perhaps gas escaping into the mine followed by an explosion could have spelled its demise."

Deeper Exploration Was Not Safe

"Now that I knew a fire had been present at some time I wondered what effect the extreme heat had on the rock walls and overhangs. I checked this out and found the sides of the mine as well as the roof were fractured. All it took was just a tap of my equipment pole to cause material to come falling down."

"The floor of the mine was strewn with old timber, square-headed nails, and the bones of many animals. Could possible gas seepage have caused their asphyxiation or had the tunnel been a mountain lion den at some point?. Deciding that exploration deeper into the mine without a gas sensor, breathing device, and better lighting options was not safe, I decided to stop where I was and collect ore samples from the floor."

I'll have more of Greg and Ken's story in a future post. Until then, be safe, keep smiling, and get that gold!

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Readers' Comments on Discovery's 'Gold Rush' TV Show"

(c) J.R. 2011

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com