Snow Bird Mine

by kfrego

The Snowbird Mine near Foresthills, CA was originally mined thru an inclined shaft prior to the depression. The mine was a good producer of gold. Kirk Fox and the owners of the mine agreed to do some evaluation and exploration of the property to determine the feasibility of future mining operations. Maps and information on the mine were available. There was no way to confirm all the underground workings were included on the maps. Myself, Ron Weaver, Kevin Miller, and Mike Janzeski made the initial site visit. Just out of the hamlet of Foresthills my pick-up blew oil out of the filter gasket. The one gas station in seven counties had the replacement parts. We were lucky enough to have two vehicles and a service station within a convenient distance.

Several weeks later myself and Kevin Miller were mobilizing Gates & Fox’s Koehring Speedstar Air Rotary drill and water truck to start exploration drilling. We parked the drill on site and returned to get the water truck. Bad weather was moving in as we departed the drill. We anticipated rain at the 4100 foot elevation of the mine and snow above 5000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Foresthill Ridge road was paved and took us within a few miles of the mine, but it was downhill all the way from the  top of the ridge. We ran into snow on our return trip with the water truck and had nearly two feet on the ridge. We parked the water truck, returned to the mine, and brought the drill to the top of the ridge. In four hours the snow was up to the bumper on my Toyota pick-up. The storm dropped four feet of snow overnight and we couldn’t get back for nearly a week. We thought the mine’s name was appropriate.

We drilled and sampled several air rotary holes at the Snow Bird based on information from the old maps. Kevin and I were drilling and standing on the rear deck of the drill. All of a sudden there was a loud swooshing noise as a column of slimy red orange colored water blew out of the hole. We were drenched before we could react, shut down the drill, and kill the compressor. The drill had penetrated the old mine workings full of water and the water was rank. Even the drill was covered with the old stinking rust colored slime. The exploration revealed the old time miners did a pretty good job of removing all the gold from the snowbird mine.

Oil filter leaks, snow half way to a tall Indians rear, slime water, and no gold ……….make me think the Snow Bird was jinxed.

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