Mines of El Dorado County: “W” – “Z”

The W. N. Skinner mining claims were both for placer gold and were located one-half mile west of Shingle Springs. One was 80 acres in size, the other 20 acres.
The W. W. mine was a placer gold, drift mine at Cement Hill, four miles north of Georgetown. It was active in 1894 when an ancient river channel was prospected by means of a 400-foot adit along the bedrock.

The Wabash Deep Channel mine was a placer gold, drift mine three miles north of Georgetown. It was active from 1856 until 1867 and again in 1907 and 1920. An ancient river channel at this location was developed by four shafts and a 350-foot bedrock adit.

The Walker mine was a chromite mine located eight miles west of Shingle Springs (El Dorado Hills area). Some chrome ore was produced at this mine in 1917 and 1918 (World War I) and, in 1942 (World War II), when the Volo Mining Company of Placerville took over its operation. The deposits consisted of disseminated chromite in alternating rich and lean layers in a base of serpentine. It was estimated that the reserves in the ore zone, which is three to four feet wide and some 60 or more feet deep, at 1500 tons of ore containing ten to twelve percent chromic oxide. The property was developed by a 60-foot shaft with 30 feet of drifts at the 60-foot level and many open cuts.

A second Walker mine was a placer gold mine on 157.99 acres one mile south of Fair Play.

The Wall mine was a placer gold mine on 40 acres three miles east of Diamond Springs.

The War Eagle mine was a lode gold claim on the western branch of the Mother Lode, two and one -half miles south of Greenwood.

The Warner mine was a placer gold mine on 40 acres three mile east of Garden Valley near Bear Creek.

The Washington mine was a placer gold mine two miles south of Omo Ranch.

One mile northwest of Spanish Dry Diggings was the Waun mine, a seam gold mine on the western branch of the Mother Lode,  adjacent to the Middle Fork of the American River. At this location a belt of gold-bearing, quartz seams, fifty feet wide was mined first by hydraulic and then underground means.

The Webb mine was a lode gold mine on 20.65 acres one mile south of Gold Hill.

The Webber mine was a placer gold mine on 20 acres one mile west of Rescue near White Rock Creek.

The Webber Creek mines were a group of four placer gold mines along Web(b)er Creek. They were located one and one-half miles north of Diamond Springs and followed the creek for a distance of three miles downstream.
As a point of interest, Weber Creek is named for Charles M. Weber who arrived in California with the Bartleson party in 1841. He laid out the town of Stockton and during the Gold Rush he established Weberville (also known as Webertown) along Weber Creek, upstream from where Highway 49 crosses it. Weber was sometimes pronounced “WE birr,” thus the creek was often listed as “Weaver” creek. It is believed that map makers added an extra “b” so that it would be pronounced “WEB er,” like his name.

The Webfoot mine was a placer gold mine one and one mile south of Omo Ranch on Brownsville Creek, a tributary of Cedar Creek.

The Webster mine was a lode gold mine in Quartz Canyon, two miles south of Volcanoville. It was active around 1894 when a one-foot wide vein of gold-bearing quartz was developed by 200 and 300-foot adits.

The Welch mine was a lode gold mine on 20.66 acres the western branch of the Mother Lode one-half mile northeast of the town of Greenwood. It was active from 1894 through 1896. The deposit consisted of a three to eight-foot wide vein of gold-bearing quartz in slate which was developed by a 100-foot inclined shaft and a 150-foot crosscut adit. Prior to this development, the surface material was sluiced.

The Wentz mine was an 80 acre placer gold mine located three miles southeast of Camino on Clear Creek.

The West Cool-Cave Valley mine was a limestone mine one mile west of Cool-Cave Valley, near the Middle Fork of the American River. The deposit consisted of a lens 450 feet long and 50 feet wide, of bluish-gray, high-calcium limestone. Mining was by open pit.

The Weston mine was a placer gold mine two and one-half miles south of Omo Ranch, near Indian Diggings.

Wheadon and Co. operated a placer gold mine on 120 acres three miles southeast of Diamond Springs

The Wheelock mine was a placer gold mine on 40 acres one-half mile northeast of Diamond Springs on Ringgold Creek.

The White Bear mine was a lode gold mine on 18.96 acres one mile north of Omo Ranch. It was worked together with two adjacent lode gold mines, the Arctic Bear and Polar Bear.

The White Oak mine was a 53.73 acre placer gold mine located one mile south of Garden Valley.

Near Red Bird Creek, two miles southeast of Mosquito Camp (Swansboro Country area) was the White Owl mine, a lode gold mine. It was active in 1938 when a one and one-half to three foot wide vein of gold bearing quartz was developed by a 65-foot inclined shaft. The ore, which yielded up to $65 per ton, was treated in a two-ton Gibson Mill.

One-half mile southwest of Clarksville, at Carson Creek, was the White Rock mine, a placer gold mine. Here, the gravel in Carson Creek was dredged by dragline during the years 1925 and 1926. Since the dredge moved around, this mine is often referred to as the White Rock Dredge.

A second White Rock mine was a placer gold mine two miles north of Smith Flat.

White Rock Diggings, was a placer gold, hydraulic mine at White Rock Canyon, three miles northeast of Placerville. It is reported, but not substantiated, that many years ago mining on this portion of the Blue Lead channel yielded $5,000,000 in gold.

The Whitesides (Cranes Gulch) mine was a placer gold mine on 80 acres one mile south of Georgetown.

Just north of Placerville, at an unknown location, but probably on the Mother Lode, was a lode gold mine known as the Whittle. Around 1913 the only recorded development consisted of two shafts, one 60 feet deep and the other 100 feet deep.

The Wickham mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode four miles south of the town of El Dorado.

The Wiedebush mine was a lode gold mine located two miles south of Volcanoville. It was active during the years 1920 through 1926 when a 70-foot long, three to four-foot wide ore shoot, consisting of gold-bearing quartz, was developed by an adit of unreported length. The ore was treated in a small roller mill.

Two miles northwest of Garden Valley on the western branch of the Mother Lode was a lode gold mine known as the Wild Cat mine. All that is known about this mine is that it was active in 1926.

The Wild Rose mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode three miles south of the town of El Dorado. It was worked together with the Lone Star and Old Abe lodes, all three of which totaled 60.218 acres.

The Wiley mine was a chromite mine one mile southwest of Four Corners (the intersection of Lotus, Luneman and Gold Hill roads). It was only active in 1916, during World War I, when 45 tons of chromite was produced from open cuts.

Four miles to the southeast of Auburn, near the town of Cool, was the Wilhelm and Last Chance mine, a lode gold mine. It has been idle for a long time.

The William Barney mine was a placer gold claim on 39.35 acres one mile south of Fair Play.

The William E. Kenna mine was a placer gold claim on 201.66 acres two miles east of Volcanoville.

The Williams mine, or more properly Williams prospect, was a tungsten deposit seven miles southeast of Placerville and one mile northeast of Buck’s Bar. Thin, parallel streaks of scheelite (tungsten ore) within a body of material up to twelve feet wide, were discovered here in 1954. By 1956, a cut twenty by twenty feet and fifteen feet high had been made to remove ore for milling tests. Analysis of the material showed from one to two percent tungsten oxide.

The Williams and Gallagher mine was a placer gold mine three miles southwest of Cool on the South Fork of the American River.

The Williamson mine, often called the Hector Williamson mine, was a chromite mine located six miles north of Shingle Springs, at the intersection of Weber Creek and Lotus Road. It was first active around 1918 when 55 tons of ore containing 40 percent chromic oxide was produced. The deposit consisted of irregular chromite pods in a mineral reported as slickentite, but probably serpentine. Hector Williamson and his family kept a mining museum at his mine for many years.

Two miles northwest of Garden Valley was a chromite mine known as the Wilson mine. In 1943, during World War II, an unreported amount of shipping and milling grade ore was produced from this deposit.

Near Otter Creek, eight miles northeast of Georgetown, was a placer gold, drift mine known as the Wilton mine. It was active around 1894 when an ancient river channel, 600 feet wide, was developed by a 700-foot adit.

The Wiltshire mine was a lode gold mine near the town of Nashville. It was a “pocket” mine, where the gold was found in pockets rather than continuously in a vein, and active around 1926.

The Witmer mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode, two miles southeast of Garden Valley.

The Woodburn mine was a placer gold mine two miles east of Fair Play near Slug Gulch.

The Woodford and Melchoir mine was a 160 acre placer gold mine about ten miles east of Georgetown on Gaddis Creek, just north of Sand Mountain.

The Woods mine was a copper mine located one mile northwest of Latrobe. The deposit consisted of a five foot wide vein that contained copper. It was developed by a twelve-foot shaft.

The Woodside-Eureka mine was a lode gold mine on 36.597 acres about one mile northeast of Georgetown and a part of the immense workings of the Placerville Gold Mining Co. The Eureka portion of it was only active prior to 1888. Three parallel veins of gold bearing quartz, six to ten feet wide, were developed by a 240-foot inclined shaft and 500 feet of drifts.

The Worthington mine was a placer gold, drift mine northeast of Volcanoville. It was active around 1896 when gravel, which yielded sixteen cents per cubic yard, was mined from an ancient river channel.

The Wubbena mine was a placer gold mine located on the South Fork of the American River two miles downstream from the town of Salmon Falls.

The Wulff mine was a small operation, placer gold mine five miles northwest of Rescue. Surface gravel was worked here from 1938 until 1946.

The Yellow Aster mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode three and one-half miles south of the town of El Dorado. It was one of several mines operated by the Teddy Bear Group.

The Yellowjacket mine was a placer gold, drift mine near the town of Indian Diggings. It was only active during the years 1926, 1927 and 1930.

A second Yellow Jacket mine was a placer gold mine on 22.44 acres of land just south of the town of Volcanoville.

A third Yellow Jacket mine was a lode gold mine on 20.63 acres of land one mile east of the Mother Lode, two miles south of Placerville.

The Young Harmon mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode at the northern end of Placerville. It was part of the Harmon Group, which included the Van Hooker, Young Harmon, Old Harmon, Gross No. 1 and No. 2 and Eureka. The Old and Young Harmon mines were worked between 1870 and 1890, at that time having been a part of the True Consolidated Mining and Milling Company’s holdings. They were developed by a long adit in 1887 and 1888, running the length of the two Harmon claims. About 1895 these claims passed into the hands of Placerville Gold Mining Company and little or nothing was done during the following 35 years. The vein running through the Old Harmon and Young Harmon claims averages 15 feet wide and in places is 45 to 75 feet wide, occurring in stringers in slate.

The Zanini mine was a chromite mine located two miles northeast of Latrobe. It was a low grade deposit only prospected during World War I.

The Zantgraf (Montauk Consolidated, Zentgraf) mine was a lode gold mine located one mile south of Rattlesnake Bridge on the east side of the American River, six miles southwest of Pilot Hill. Like several other mines, it was not on a mineral patent, but an agricultural patent. The mine is now a partially or fully covered by Folsom Lake.
This mine was first worked in 1880 and by the year 1888, it was in full operation with a ten-stamp mill. In the 1890s the size of the mill was increased to 20 and then 25 -stamps. In the early 1900s the mine was powered by electricity from a company owned power plant one-half mile distant on the American River. Steam power for the lift and the mill was also available.
The Montauk Consolidated Gold Mining Company of New York took over the operation of the mine from 1898 – 1901 and, by 1901 more than $1,000,000 in gold had been recovered from the mine. No mining was done from 1901 until 1924, when some prospecting just to the north of the mine occurred, with no reported results. During the years 1933 – 1938, and again in 1941, a Mr. W. B. Longan prospected the property, sinking several shafts and adding drifts of considerable length. Mr. Longan did recover some gold for his work. Since 1938, the mine has effectively been idle.
The deposit at the Zantgraf Mine consisted of several nearly parallel veins of gold-bearing quartz. However, most of the gold was removed from the main, or Zantgraf vein, which varied from two to six feet in width. The ore, which contained free gold, auriferous (gold containing) pyrite and galena (lead ore), ranged in value from two dollars to as much as 100 dollars per ton, with an average value of between seven and eight dollars per ton.
The mine was developed by a 1,130 foot inclined shaft with levels at every one-hundred feet and a 500-foot crosscut adit that intersected the shaft at the 300-foot level. An ore shoot was stoped from the 300-foot level to the surface, a distance of 900 feet, and another ore shoot, 600 feet in length was developed at the lower levels. There is also a 200-foot shaft 900 feet to the northwest of the main shaft, with levels at 80 and 180 feet, and a second 190-foot shaft on the Montauk vein. Both of these shafts were sunk in the 1930s. The stamp mill was used to treat the ore until the 1930s when it was replaced with a 50-ton Chilean mill and even later a ball mill.

The Zimmerman mine, which was also known as the Pacific Channel mine, was a placer gold mine one-half mile west of Pacific House. From around 1915 through the early 1920s, an ancient channel of the South Fork of the American River, lying on granite bedrock and capped by andesite (a volcanic rock), was mined through several adits, one of which was 1000 feet in length. The gold bearing gravel, once removed, was treated in a barrel mill.

EPILOGUE

I am often asked about some of the mines and whether or not there is anything left worth viewing. By now most of them are on private property and you will need the owner’s permission to see them. How you find out the name of the owner is a matter of research at the El Dorado County Recorder’s Office and government mining documents such as “Mines and Mineral Resources of El Dorado County”, which can be found in the rare book collection at our main library.

You must always remember that a mine, working or abandoned, open pit or underground, is a potentially dangerous place. When following an adit into a mine  you may come across a winze or an air shaft, several hundred feet deep. If you fall in, they will never find you and your cell phone will probably not work! They are also nice locations to find rattlesnakes and other animals you may not want to meet.

Mine timbers were put there for a purpose when they were new, and now they are rotten and will not support anything. It may not take much to collapse the tunnel.

The best rule is: If you really want to see an old gold mine, go to Gold Bug Park in Placerville and take the tour.

SOURCES

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals,” by Frederick Pough (1953); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); “Natural History of the Sierra Nevada,” by Storer and Usinger (1963); “Hand-Book of Mining Law,” by Henry N. Copp (1881); “California Mines and Minerals,” California Miners’ Association (1899); “The Mother Lode Region of California,” by W. H. Storms for A. S. Cooper, California State Mineralogist (1900); “Mother Lode Gold Belt of California,” by C. A. Logan (1934); “California Journal of Mines and Geology,” Walter W. Bradley, State Mineralogist (1938)”; “Mines and Mineral Resources of El Dorado County, California,” reprinted from the California Journal of Mine and Geology – California Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mines (1956); Map entitled “The Mines of El Dorado County, California,” Clifton Wildman (1932);“Map of Western Portion El Dorado County Showing Mining Claims,” C. A. Logan, District Mining Engineer (1938);Newspapers: “Mountain Democrat,” 1854-present; the “Empire County Argus” (Coloma), 1853-1856; the “Californian” (Monterey), 1846-47; the “California Star (San Francisco), 1847-48); the “Alta California” (San Francisco), 1849- 91;the “Placerville Republican and Nugget” and “El Dorado Republican,” various issues.

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