Alleghany, CA – Jeeping to a Gold Mine!

A few weeks back, I again visited the heart of the northern Mother Lode, including Alleghany. With a posted population of 58, I was told it’s more like 20 year-round residents. 18 miles up a lonely ridge from Highway 49, I visited a retired Silicon Valley engineer who first started coming here on weekends about 50 years ago!


The town includes this building, below, which has a part-time Post Office on the right, and the Underground Gold Miner’s Museum on the left (open occasionally…)


There’s also Casey’s Place, which is a circa-1890 bar and restaurant. That, too, is pretty quiet.


Last, but not least, there’s the Volunteer Fire Department, with my friend’s Jeep in front. He’s also the “radio guy” for the Fire Department, being from Silicon Valley, and all that…


There are several historical and/or operational mines in the area. The “Sixteen to One Mine” is the oldest hard rock mine in America, founded in 1896.


There’s also the Ruby Mine, (currently For Sale ) which is still producing, and the Plumbago mine, which we’re going to see, as we hop in the Jeep, and descend 2000 feet to the bottom of the canyon!


Below, is the bottom of the first canyon, at Kanaka Creek, near the Ophir Mine.


Those red roofs, below, are buildings at the lower Plumbago Mine. I was told that a few years back, the place was cleaned-up reeaaallll nice, just before they helicoptered some deep-pocketed investors to look around. (Painted the buildings, told some stories, and caught some naive investors and mined their wallets!)

My friend was also part of the first crew to use metal detectors in the old Plumbago tunnels. They found $1 million in two days, though the mine owners got almost all of that!


Down we go, even more…it’s a shelf road, built for mules! I only took photos on the easy parts. I was not holding a camera on the more exciting parts of the road!


Finally…we reach the bottom of the canyon, where Wolf Creek joins the Middle Fork of the Yuba River. The cabin, below, was built in ~1925, using wood strips from an abandoned redwood flume from the 1880’s. (Flumes carried water downhill, often for many miles, to be used in large-scale sluicing operations.)


Below, is the roof of the cabin. My friend stabilized the old structure, about 20 years ago, and lived in it for awhile.


I should have taken more pictures, but I didn’t…the river and creek are quite scenic and peaceful. It’s not recommended to go into the canyon alone, though. The road is rough, and there bears and a few odd characters that live in the canyon, at their claims.. If you go to the town of Alleghany, call ahead and see when Casey’s and/or the Museum are open.

Also consider a small side-trip to Forest City. They took $200 Million in gold out of the ground in about 10 years. The town had 1000 people at one time, and the mine tunnel included an underground steam locomotive (cough! cough!) Today, it’s a crumbling historic Dance Hall, plus a few homes. It’s also a Registered Historic District.

The End!

About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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