Mines of El Dorado County: “B” (Part 1)

The Badger Hill mine, located seven miles east of Placerville, was a placer mine, working an ancient channel of the American River.  It was mined by drifting and then sluicing the gold-bearing gravel.

Three miles south of Balderson Station, near Rock Creek, was the Balderson Tungsten mine.  Only minor amounts of tungsten ore was found and little is known about the total production.

The Ball mine was three and one-half miles southeast of Omo Ranch that was active around 1935. A well cemented gold-bearing gravel deposit 80-feet wide was worked by driving a 1,250-foot adit to the channel and then drifting 600-feet towards the south.

The Balmaceda mine was a lode gold mine located one and one-half miles northeast of Nashville, which is on Highway 49 near the Amador County line. Consisting of two parallel 4-foot quartz veins, it was active in 1914 and developed by a 500-foot drift adit on the west vein which was stoped to the surface.

The Baltic mine was a lode gold mine five miles north of Grizzly Flat on the north side of Baltic Peak. It was active in 1896 and 1907 and developed by a 500-foot drift adit and 130-foot inclined shaft. The ore was treated on-site in a ten-stamp mill.

Two miles southeast of Georgetown was the Barklage and Miller mine, which was worked for copper in 1908. A 100 foot wide deposit of copper ore in slate, it was developed by a 118 foot adit.

The Barnes-Eureka (Greenstone) mine worked a two-foot wide gold-bearing quartz vein lying between serpentine and fine-grained metavolcanic rocks, two miles northeast of Shingle Springs. It was active in 1912, 1936 and during the years 1947-49, and was mined by a 350-foot inclined shaft with levels at 100 and 200 feet and a second 250-foot shaft to the south.

The Base Bonanza mine was active prior to 1894 and located one mile west of Garden Valley. The vein of gold bearing quartz was between diorite and serpentine rock.

The Beebe mine, on the north side of Georgetown, was one of the larger sources of gold in El Dorado County and actually a consolidation of several claims, including the Brooklyn, East Lode, Iowa and Woodside-Eureka. The Eureka claim was first worked in the early days of the Gold Rush and up to 1908. The Beebe claim itself was prospected in 1917. From 1932 until 1939 the Beebe Gold Mining Company operated the mine and removed 306,241 tons of ore that produced $1,200,465 in gold. After 1939 a little gold was found while cleaning up. The vein averaged 12 to 15 feet in width and was reached by three shafts, the Eureka, old Beebe and Beebe No. 2 with levels at 130, 250, 370, 500, 600 and 700 feet. At the 370-foot level there was a 700-foot drift in ore and between the 500 and 700-foot level a winze. The last gold mined came from stopes at the 600 and 700-foot levels. Gold ore from this mine and also the Alpine mine was processed at a stamp mill on this property.
The “Placerville Republican and Nugget,” dated June 25, 1917, has a story stating that men were wanted to work at the Beebe Mine. Machine men would be paid $3.50 for an eight hour day, and muckers $3. Machine men are the people who run the drills, muckers shovel the ore.
In 2009 George Campini, whose family once owned the Beebe Mine, recalled a two-stamp mill that was moved from there to another deposit near Georgetown.

The Bella Vista mine was a drift mine three miles northeast of Mt. Aukum. Active in 1936, the gold was mined from the gravel in two ancient river channels, one above the other, by a 400-foot drift adit and a 200 foot drift. The deposit contained $1 to $1.50 in gold per cubic yard of gravel which was removed by processing it through a washing plant and sluice.

The Benfeldt (Rogers) mine, was a drift mine at Smith’s Flat, just north-east of Placerville. A gravel deposit some five feet thick and 50 to 120 feet wide was worked at this mine, yielding $2 to $8 per ton. It was active from 1888-96 and 1916-19. Development consisted of a 750-foot shaft and drifts and the gravel, once removed, was put through a 10-stamp mill and then a 150-foot sluice.

The Bernard, or Amador, mine was the only really active quicksilver (mercury) mine in el Dorado County. Located by Fanny Creek, two miles west of Nashville, it was active during the 1860s and then prospected again in 1903 and 1917. The mercury ore (cinnabar) was mined by a 75-foot shaft and 117-foot adit. The Cinnabar subdivision, which was proposed in this area some years ago, got its name from this nearby deposit.

The Bernett Property was a soapstone mine located four miles southwest of Shingle Springs at the Southern Pacific Railroad. Mined since 1953, it is a deposit of talc schist of unknown depth, at least 500 feet in length and 40 to 60 feet wide. It was mined by the stripping method in a open pit with the material being shipped to Berkley were it was ground for use as an insecticide carrier.

The Bidstipt mine was a lode gold mine two miles south of the town of El Dorado. Mined by a 35-foot shaft and 100-foot adit was a one-foot north-striking vein of gold bearing quartz.

The Big Buzzard (Hercules, Darrington) mine was a copper and zinc mine three miles southwest of Rattlesnake Bridge and a half mile east of the American River. Originally a gold mine, it was operated on and off for many years. During WWII some copper and zinc ore was shipped from the waste dump and later, the Morning Star Mining Corporation did preliminary tests on the ore. Consisting of a vein as much as ten feet wide, it contained a mix of many ores and as much as $14 in gold per ton of material. There is a 300 foot inclined shaft sunk on the vein with levels at 70, 160, 260 and 300 feet. Most of the work was at the 70 and 160-foot levels.

The Big Canyon Dredge was a mining operation using a three cubic foot dragline dredge on Big Canyon and Deer Creeks from 1937-42.

The Big Canyon (formerly Oro Fino) mine was a very rich operation located four and one-half miles south of Shingle Springs in Big Canyon. It was active prior to 1888, and between 1893 and 1901 produced $720,000 in gold from an ore body on the West Gold Belt that contained up to 20 percent free gold. In 1915 some development work was done but serious mining did not occur again until the mine was acquired by the Mountain Copper Company which took out $2,368,000 in gold between 1934 and 1940. Development at the mine consisted of two inclined shafts 400 feet apart, one 740-foot and the other 620-feet. Originally ore was stoped to the surface from the 500-foot level and later, drifts were extended several thousand feet along the ore body. In 1937 some ore was removed by the open-pit method. When in full operation, a crew of 150 men worked at the mine and originally water-powered mill, removing and processing 300 tons of ore a day. The mine has remained idle since 1940 although some serious exploration was done in the 1980s.

One half mile east of Kelsey was the Big Chunk mine. A three foot vein of lode gold was developed by a 100-foot shaft and 150-foot adit.

The Big Four (Golden Oak) Mine was on the Mother Lode one mile southeast of Garden Valley. It was active during the 1890s and prospected again in 1940. A thirty inch vein yielding $10 -$13 per ton, it was developed by a 96-foot inclined shaft and a 100-foot adit.

A lode gold mine with the name of Big Jim (also Phillips) was located two and one-half miles southwest of Latrobe. Active around 1896, the vein was developed by a shaft and 240-foot crosscut adit. After the quartz was mined, it was crushed on-site with a 2-stamp mill.

The Big Sandy (James Marshall) mine was on the Mother Lode, one-half mile south of Kelsey. The deposit was originally located by none other than James Wilson Marshall, the discoverer of gold at Coloma. During the 1890s, the vein, which was as wide as 15 feet, was worked and the ore treated in a 10-stamp mill. In the 1930s pockets of very high grade gold were found and several fine specimens of crystallized gold were removed. However, most of the ore in the mine was low-grade, worth $2.25 a ton or less. This ore was mined from a open cut 750-feet in length and a 340-foot vertical shaft with levels at 120, 227 and 333 feet.

The Black Hawk mine was located about half way between the Big Sandy mine and Kelsey. At this location, a 4-foot wide vein in slate was developed by a 200-foot drift adit.

The Black Gold mine was a placer gold, drift mine in Pleasant Valley. It was active in 1930-31 and 1936 when several thousand dollars of gold was removed. The deposit was a bench of fine loose gravel that was developed by a 60 foot shaft with drifts 100-feet west, 280-feet north and 127-feet east.

The Black Lead (not lead as in the metal but like “to lead a miner along a vein”) was a black appearing, gold bearing quartz vein six miles south of Shingle Springs. It was active prior to 1894.

The Blacklock mine was a placer gold mine one mile northeast of the center of Placerville. The four foot thick ancient river channel was first hydraulicked (high pressure water used to removed the material which was then run through a very long sluice) and later worked by drifting along the deposit.

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