Mines of El Dorado County: “P” (Part 2)

Three miles east of Pilot hill was the Pioneer Copper, Gold and Silver (Pioneer-Lilyama, Little Emma, Volo) mine. This multi-ore mine, located on 20.65 acres, was a consolidation of the Pioneer and Lilyama mines which were originally worked in the 1860s. However, it wasn’t until 1889-90 that the main copper deposit was found when adits were finally driven into the hill. The mine was idle until 1943 when it was reopened by the Volo Mining Company of Placerville. A considerable amount of copper, along with some silver and gold was produced until the mine was shut down in 1948. As mentioned before, in the fall of 1954 and spring of 1955, the mill on the property was leased to the Pillikin Mining Company to treat chrome ore. In 1955 work was done to rehabilitate the mine and some ore was mined and stockpiled. The deposit contains many different kinds of ore, including the lead ore scheelite, in addition to various copper ores, which are found in pods up to 100 feet in width. The deposit was developed by four crosscut adits on two levels, several shafts along with hundreds of feet of drifts, raises and winzes. On the hill above the mine are open cuts, trenches and two glory holes (the results of raises that reach the surface). In 1948 an assays of the concentrates from the mill averaged 28 percent copper, $28 to $34 per ton in gold and $14 per ton in silver.

The Placerville Channel mine was an isolated placer gold mine one and one-half miles north of Pacific House.

The Placerville Gold Mining Company, which was incorporated in 1911 as a successor to the Placerville Gold Quartz Company, Ltd., and English concern incorporated in 1878, operated numerous lode gold and placer gold mines in the county. These mines were along a portion of the Mother Lode extending from one mile south of the South Fork of the American River, through the Placerville City Limits to Weber Creek, a distance of some four miles. The mines included: the True Consolidated Mine with the Young Harmon, Old Harmon, Halleck and Berry claims; the Van Hooker, Grass, Brown Bear, Cinnamon Bear, White Bear and Eureka claims; the Epley Consolidated Mine composed of the Epley, Faraday, Henrietta and Mammoth claims; the Rose, Chester, Ida, Oregon and Oregon Extension claims and the Pacific Quartz Mine. Among these the most notable mines in this group were the Pacific Quartz Mine, the Epley Consolidated Mine and the True Consolidated Mine.
The first of these mines, the Pacific Quartz mine, was a lode gold mine located in Placerville, south of Town Hall and the Chamber of Commerce building, between Main and Pacific Streets (Pacific Street is named for this mine). It was active from 1852-59 and again from 1914-15 with a total recorded production of nearly $1,500,000 in gold (with gold varying in price from about sixteen to 30 dollars an ounce at the time). The deposit consisted of a number of ore shoots several hundred feet long and as wide as 12 feet. It was developed by a 700-foot shaft with a 1,365-foot winze from the 700-foot level. The gold-bearing quartz, once removed, was treated on-site in a 20 stamp mill.
Only a short distance from the Pacific Quartz mine, south of Placerville, between Chili Ravine and Weber Creek, was the second of these mines, the Epley Consolidated mine. It was active up until 1888. The vein of gold-bearing quartz averaged six feet in width and two ore shoots, 125 and 150 feet long were worked. The mine was developed by an adit and two shafts. The ore was treated with mercury (amalgamation) and the sulfides were concentrated for further processing.
The third of these mines, the True Consolidated mine, was located just north of Placerville in Big Canyon. Just prior to being acquired by the Placerville Gold Quartz Mining Company in 1893, this property was operated by the True Consolidated Mining and Milling Company. The deposit consisted of two veins of gold-bearing quartz, the east one averaging four feet in width; the west one averaging fifteen feet. The mine was developed by a 1,400-foot south drift adit and, on the Old Harmon part of the mine, a 560-foot shaft. There was some prospecting on this property in 1931.

There were two Placerville Placer mines, one on the south boundary of Placerville near the Mother Lode and the other three miles east of Diamond Springs.

The Plattsburg mine was uniquely both a lode gold and placer gold mine three-fourths of a mile north of Georgetown. It was active in 1896 when a 1 to 4-foot wide gold-bearing quartz vein, containing coarse gold, was developed. Little is known about the placer gold operation.

The Plattsville mine was a placer gold mine on 120 acres one mine north of Smith Flat.

Four miles northeast of Pleasant Valley was a lode gold mine known as the Pleasant Valley mine. It was active first in the 1880s and later in 1935. A 2 ½ to 6-foot vein of gold-bearing quartz was developed by a 480-foot adit and a 110-foot shaft.

Another mine named the Pleasant Valley mine was a placer gold mine near Pleasant Valley that was prospected in 1894. It is not known if any real work was done at this mine.

The Plunkett mine was a placer gold mine one and one-half miles north of Smith Flat.

The Pocahontas (Pocahontas Quartz mine and Mill Site)  mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode, two and one half miles south of the townsite of El Dorado on 59.39 acres of the Mother Lode. It was opened in 1854 and by 1867 was in full operation. It continued to be active until 1896. It was later prospected around 1939. Two gold-bearing quartz veins, the Pocahontas and the Empire, about 300 feet apart were developed by 300 and 400-foot inclined shafts and about 1700 feet of drifts. The Pocahontas vein was drifted north 500 feet and south 200 feet on the 100-foot level and a total of 1000 feet on the 300 foot level. The depth of the mine reached about 525 feet. The ore, which ranged in value from $4 to $25 per ton, was treated in a ten-stamp mill propelled by a sixteen horsepower steam engine.

One mile north of Omo Ranch was a lode gold mine on 20.65 acres known as the Polar Bear (Polar, Empire Group, White Bear) mine. It has long been idle.

The Polhemus mine was a lode gold mine two miles west of Diamond Springs.

The strangely named Poor mine was a lode gold mine one mile northwest of Kelsey. It was active around 1938 when 200 to 300 tons of ore were mined. Development consisted of open cuts and a 37-foot shaft.

The Porphyry (Fisk) mine was a lode gold mine on the western edge of Placerville probably on a gold bearing quartz belt west of the Mother Lode often known as the Porphyry Belt.

The Potosi mine was a placer gold mine one and one-half miles east of Omo Ranch.

The Potossi mine was a lode gold mine one mile south of Diamond Springs on the Mother Lode.

The Potts and Maginess mine was a placer gold, drift mine three-fourths of a mile east of Newtown. It also has long been idle.

The Poverty Bar mine was a placer gold mine two and one-half miles northwest of Greenwood, near the Middle Fork of the American River.

The Poverty Point (Guildford) mine, which was listed in 1899 as “One of the most promising mines on the Mother Lode, in El Dorado County,” is a lode gold mine situated three miles north of Placerville. Nearly a mile in length along the course of the Mariposa slate, it is actually a group of claims that totaled some 500 acres: the Iowa, Hidden Treasure, Bantam, Baltic, Humming Bird, Poverty Point, Brighton, Bell and Fortuna. Since the property is on the south side of the river canyon, the gold could be mined through four adits at a lower operating cost than usual. It is claimed locally that the mine produced about $500,000 in gold, but there is only a record of a little over $200,000 in gold being taken out since 1901, nearly all of which was produced between 1912 and 1917 from ore that averaged from $4 to $5 a ton.
The Guildford Gold Mining company quit work in 1917 after running the River adit level (150 feet above the South Fork of the American River) 600 feet into the vein. In 1919 the 15 stamp mill burned and the mine lay idle until 1923 when El Dorado County Mining and Development Company took over the operation. They advanced the River adit level 685 feet and installed ten 1000-pound stamps, but milled only a little ore in 1925. Sometime later the Golden Horseshoe Mining Corporation took over, sinking a winze below the old 500-foot level adit which was 127-feet deep by 1932. The newspapers from the late 1920s have numerous stories about the Poverty Point mine, potential buyers, scheduled re-openings  and its richness.

The Promised Land mine was a lode gold mine three miles east of Diamond Springs.

The Prune Ravine mine was a lode gold mine about five miles east of Diamond Springs.

The Puglia mine as a placer gold mine on 19.32 acres two miles northwest of Garden Valley.

Four miles due north of Shingle Springs and one and one-half miles northeast of Rescue, on what some call the “West Gold Belt”, the Pyramid Group operated the Pyramid (Gold Reserve, Pyramid Gold and Silver) mine, a lode gold mine on 23.65 acres.
An interesting story associated with this mine is that sometime around 1895, the U.S. Post Office Department decided that they wanted to do away with the name Green Valley for a local town because there were already too many towns with that name. The Department requested the owner of the building that would house the post office to submit a list of new, one-word names for the town. One proposed name on the list was submitted by Andrew Hare, who had a nearby mining claim called the Rescue Claim. His claim had “rescued” him from poverty and he thought it would be a fine name for the town. The town became Rescue and the claim became the Pyramid Mine.
When the mine was first active in the 1890s, a ore shoot over 500 feet in length was worked through two 500-foot drift adits and a 50-foot shaft. In 1933 the mine was reopened and, for six years, was operated by several concerns.
Power for the stamp mills (around 20 stamps or more) and the 100 ton ball mill was provided by steam boilers and a 40 foot water wheel using water from Weber Creek. (Personal communication from Louis Wunschel, who worked there in the 1930s)
Ultimately, the mine was developed by an 818-foot inclined shaft with production chiefly from the 500, 700 and 800-foot levels. The total output of the mine was around $1,000,000 in gold.

Previous ArticleIndexNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *