2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gold Bug Park

Placerville has lots of winding roads and one of them leads to Hangtown's Gold Bug Park. The bridge in the photo leads across Big Canyon Creek, a tributary of the American River.

There was once 250 mines located within its boundarys which yielded thousands of dollars of gold. The Gold Bug mine was first opened in 1888 and was named "Hattie Mine" after one of the owner's daughter.
The mine was purchased by another guy in 1926 and renamed "Gold Bug Mine". He operated it until 1942 when President Roosevelt ordered all mines closed because they were deemed non-essential.
Standing at the entrance, you could feel the cold air coming out of the mine. It felt good on the warm day we were there. The self-guided tour comes with a 12" x 3" by 2" devise that tells you what you are seeing. When you get to a number on the wall, you punch it into the device and then listen to the "tour guide". It's a lot like the devices we used at Carlsbad Caverns.
The white quartz vein running through the host rock of slate can still be seen as you walk through the mine. Quartz is the host rock where most gold can be found.
This wall and ceiling braces are named "post" and "cap". Water seeps through the ground above and drips from the rock so we got a little wet.

You can see the rails in the floor along which the oar cars were pushed to the mine opening. The slate wall lies in a vertical position.
At one point, the mine splits into a "Y" as a drift goes off to the right. This drift is blocked by an ore cart and is not accessible on the tour.
This photo shows ore cart rails decending down the drift.
Looking up, we could see the fresh air shaft that ventilated the mine.

On the left drift at the end of the mine, you can see charges have been loaded into the back wall.

Over the gift shop is a small museum of mining tools and explanations of mining terminology.

There was also a small display of minerals.

We walked out of the museum and saw these pretty flowers.
We purchased the trail directory and started hiking.
And we got our exercise climbing thes 73 steps.
The first part of the trail was wide with a gradual uphill grade. Other parts were skinny or had steep ascents or descents.
Along the way were numbered plaques. After consulting the trail guide, we found out this was one of many excavations into the hillside where attempts were made to tap into the vein of gold.

I saw this interesting rock along the path but I wasn't sure if it was a rock or petrified wood.

This is another deep trench cut into the hill in an attempt to find gold.
The trail guide says, "The Big Canyon Creek is an excellent example of a placer stream. The host rock consists of slate which lies in a vertical position and at roughly 90 degrees to the stream flow, forming natural riffles where the gold can get lodged. Every winter the waters of the creek rise to dislodge a little more gold from its hiding places throughout the Mother Lode, just like this one. But here in the park, gold mining of any kind is no longer allowed."
They had a trough where you could search for gold if you rented one of their pans from the gift shop.
Once again from the trail guide... "This dry ravine is typical of many seasonal streams in the Mother Lode - you can be sure this one was panned many times for the elusive traces of gold that might signify a strike!
This popular ravine is situated right on top of the eastern side of the famous Mother Lode. Tailings from the Stamp Mill were dumped into this ravine. Small amounts of gold escaped the refining process in the Stamp Mill and ended up back in this ravine, carried by the water used in the process of extracting gold. The expense of recovering that gold would probably exceed its value."
The road up to the Stamp Mill was once used to haul the ore up to start the extraction process. One display in the stamp mill told us that a stamp mill is nothing more than a giant automated mortar and pestle for crushing ore into powder.
The Stamp Mill is built on the side of the hill to take advantage of gravity during the extraction process.
This stamp mill, made by the Joshua Hendy Iron Works of San Francisco, consisted of a large frame holding a set of eight iron stamps, with ore loaders at the top and a "catch basin" at the bottom. An automobile engine drives a large belt that turns the mechanism controlling the stamps. When moving, the stamps are sequentially dropped to crush the rocks."

Course I just have to end with more pretty flowers.

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