Knocking

by kfrego

The Bendix Corporation owned large tracts of timber properties in the region around Jackson, California. An old mine near Grizzly Flats adjacent to the Consumes River was on one of the timber tracts. In the early 1980’s there was a surge in gold prices and also a lot of interest in gold properties. Bendix was very surprised by the number of inquiries they received wanting to lease the old mine. Surprisingly, they received all of the mine drawings, production records, and history when they purchased the property. Bendix contacted Kirk Fox and hired Gates and Fox to re-open the old workings, sample, and evaluate the old mine. Bendix was into timber, but wanted a valuation of the mine. The mine had a gold bearing quartz vein about six feet wide  with a steep inclination.

Myself and Roger Moore mobilized the job with a International 100E tracked loader and a truckload of mining timber to re-establish the caved in portal. The original portal was blasted from above to make it permanently closed and safe to the public. We scratched around with the loader and found traces of the old mine railroad to establish line and grade. Most of our time was spent on the 100E digging out enough of the portal for our timber sets. We lagged between the posts and caps on four foot centers with rough cut 3×12 lumber. It took eight sets of timber to reach the rock face of the old mine. Once the portal was timbered we had to get up on the side of the mountain and backfill over the timber sets. The backfill would stabilize the timbers sets and prevent a large rock coming off the side of the mountain from breaking through our timber sets.

After walking the side of the mountain several times, a route was found to get the tracked loader above the portal. We topped off the fuel and loaded the bucket with everything needed for several days operation. The terrain was too steep to be packing fuel, oil, etc by hand. A road was out of the question. It was a little iffy at times, but the little tracked loader climbed into position and we started backfilling. On the second day the loader developed a bad engine knock. Something broke. Favon Cook came out to check it the next day. He wasn’t overly impressed with the location of the loader. We decided the damage was done, so see if it will stay together long enough to finish the backfill. I spent a lot of time holding my breath because a stall at the wrong time would send me tumbling to the bottom. Later inspection at our shop found the crankshaft had broken inside of one of the main bearing journals. We couldn’t believe it kept running.

When we core drilled the vein down deep it had the prettiest wire gold I have ever seen. The vein was well defined, but narrowed in width as it went deep. The gold is still there………..it’s not financially feasible to go get it because of dewater and development costs.

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