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Special Visit To The Incredible 16 to 1 Mine: Part 5 - Down To The 1700 Level

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Having made it to the 49 Winze, we’re really dropping into the guts of the 16 to 1 Mine in this video in order to explore the areas of the mine that very few people have seen. For much of the past two decades the sections we are going to see in this video were underwater and have only recently been dewatered and rehabbed, with the ultimate goal of returning to the very bottom levels of the mine that no living person has ever seen as they have been flooded since the 1930s.

A good part of our descent between the levels was done on ladders and I was not able to shoot video on these sections as I needed both hands. So, it may not seem as if we are dropping down that far, since, aside from the sections with stairs, I don't show the journey between the levels, but it was a good distance. The numbers of the levels (such as 1700) refers to how many feet we are underground. So, by that measure, you can understand the distances between the levels.

Continuing the history of this mine that I started with the first video in this series…

“During the depression of the 1930s gold mining in California prospered, and this was especially true of the Original Sixteen to One Mine Inc. The cost of labor and an increase in the price of gold to $35 an ounce on January 30, 1934, resulted in a “boom.” The mine operated continuously during the Depression years with a crew of between 85 and 100 men. Significant dividends were also paid during this time.

While operations were curtailed on October 8, 1942, due to World War II regulations, the Original Sixteen to One Mine Inc. fared better than most gold mining companies and was allowed a small crew for maintenance purposes, and was even permitted to mill 200 tons of ore for each six months period. Because of the nature of the ore and selective mining the company showed a profit during the war years and the mine was kept in good condition.

In July 1945 normal mining operations were permitted, but because of higher costs it was not possible to resume the prewar scale of operations. As development work declined, so did gold production. The crew of the mine averaged 45 men.

Then, to make matters worse, in 1954 a bad fire on the 250-foot level near the main Tightner shaft collar seriously damaged the shaft and hampered operations. After the fire, the shaft was jury-rigged for single compartment hoisting, but ore could not be taken above the 800-foot level. As an example of the inefficiency that resulted, ore from the 656 development drift is brought to the mill in the following steps:

1. Hand trammed to 1060 ore pass, dropped to 1000-foot level.

2. Trammed by battery locomotive to 1000-foot level Tightner pockets.

3. Hoisted to 800-foot level pockets.

4. Trammed by battery locomotive to 800-foot level Sixteen to One shaft pockets.

5. Hoisted to No. 2 Tunnel pockets.

6. Trammed by air locomotive to mill bins.”

The above is taken from “Gold Mines of the Alleghany-Forest Mining District” by Raymond W. Wittkopp and Wayne C. Babros.

Again, I apologize for the few shaky bits in this video. That was a terrible time to experience technical difficulties, but mines are very hard on sensitive electronics. To reiterate what I mentioned in the video, I figured out pretty quickly how to adapt and then fixed the issue completely that evening. So, the videos aren’t as shaky going forward and those from the next day (that will comprise the later part of the series) are all fine.


Our guide on this tour, Duane, has a YouTube channel of his own in which he has posted videos he has taken in mines where he has worked. It can be found here:


For more information on the Sixteen to One Mine or even to buy physical gold or stock shares from the company, one can visit their website at: http://www.origsix.com/


All of these videos are uploaded in HD, so adjust those settings to ramp up the quality! It really makes a difference.

You can see the gear that I use for mine exploring here: https://bit.ly/2wqcBDD

You can click here for the full TVR Exploring playlist of abandoned mines: https://goo.gl/TEKq9L

Thanks for watching!


Growing up in California’s “Gold Rush Country” made it easy to take all of the history around us for granted. However, abandoned mine sites have a lot working against them – nature, vandals, scrappers and various government agencies… The old prospectors and miners that used to roam our lonely mountains and toil away deep underground are disappearing quickly as well.

These losses finally caught our attention and we felt compelled to make an effort to document as many of the ghost towns and abandoned mines that we could before that colorful niche of our history is gone forever.

So, yes, in short, we are adit addicts… I hope you’ll join us on these adventures!


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