Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Empire Mines

Sadly, our house guest left yesterday. We had a wonderful week doing just what we wanted to do! Some days we traveled to places of interest. On a couple of days we just hung out by the pool, read, gabbed & tried new cocktails. (The Pomegranate Royale is my new favorite! And for a straight up gin martini girl, that is saying something!)

Our day trip on Saturday took us to the Empire Mines in Grass Valley. It was the day for the annual Miner's Picnic. It was a living history day, so there were tours of the mine shaft, the offices and the mine owner's (William Bourn) summer "cottage", docents in period dress & even a mine disaster rescue.

The following photos show the front of the mine office and the hand-carved gate into the mine yard.

Next is a shot of the back of the office, the bullion room and rescue station. See that metal frame standing in the yard? That is a 7 ft. cube. If all of the gold that was taken from this mine were compressed into one solid mass, it would be the size of that frame. Amazing! It would be worth $65 billion at today's gold prices!

Here are a couple of examples of the costumes being worn by the docents & their kids. I asked the two girls what they thought of their dress and in unison they said "too hot"! The lady in the white dress ducked under the canopy, so I guess she was "warm" too!

We were able to go 40' down into one of the mine shafts. The pictures inside are not good, but will give you an idea of the conditions in side. The first photo shows the sled on which the miners sat to be lowered into the mine. Someone jostled me when I took the picture of the stairs, but I am showing it because it gives you an idea of how steep the shaft is. The last is a shot into the shaft itself. The mine's deepest shaft is over 11,000 ft below ground! And the entire mine is flooded at about the 100' level.

I can tell you, just being on the stairs in the beginning of the shaft gave me the creeps! No way would I have been able to be a miner!

Finally, here are a few random photos.
First is one of the stampers that crushed the rock from the mine so that it could be processed. There were dozens of these and we were told that the noise could be deafening!
This is the bullion furnace where the gold was refined and a mold where the molten gold was poured to form ingots.
Last but not least, the engine & crew who rescued the mine disaster victims.
In the next couple of days I'll be posting about the cottage and gardens at the mine! They are beautiful, so be sure to check back!


  1. Woo Hoo Chris....this is MY kind of theme park. Thanks for taking us along on the trip. I'm looking forward to the next installments.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  2. Hi Chris , I enjoyed the tour. I'll be watching for the rest of it .

  3. Hi, Chris! The Empire Mines tour is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I would be scared to be down in one of those mine shafts.

    Thanks for your sweet comments about Joe. He's still going thru excruciating back pain. Will know the test results by tomorrow.

  4. What a neat adventure!
    Thank you for all your prayers and blessings!
    Have a wonderful Labor Day,
    kari & kijsa

  5. I think you need to publish the recipe for your new drink - sounds good! PAM

  6. Hello Chris!

    Thank you so much for sharing your tour with us! Wow, the mines are amazing! It looks like you all had a wonderful time! Looking forward to seeing more photos!



  7. Sounds like you had so much fun! Can't wait to see the rest! loved the pictures!blessings,Kathleen

  8. Wow, those pictures are neat! I can't imagine working in a gold mine. Crazy!!

    Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures! :)

  9. Oh, that trip looks like too much fun! As a homeschooler -- we'd have loved to come along with you so thanks for sharing the pictures and the stories behind them!

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