The misadventures of Commander Merlin and the crew of RV-103
Friday May 9th 2014

01-31-10 Sutter Gold Mine

Sutter Gold Mine

We spent the day today at Sutter Gold Mine.  It is a functioning gold mine, but sections of it are open to public tours.  Gold is found inside the mine in veins of crystal that can be up to 8 feet wide.  The crystal was left over from seawater that flowed in the rock bed when CA was underwater far in the past.  Gold miners call it “following the flow” because of how the water used to flow through the cracks in the bed rock in the weak areas like an underground river.

Old Mine Entrance

The original mine opening was just a hole in the ground.  The early miners couldn’t get very far due to running into a super hard rock called “Green Stone.”  When the mine was reopened using modern mining tools, they found over ¼ million dollars worth of gold behind the green stone.  In order to prevent the miners from “helping themselves” they make sure the miners are paid very well.  This makes them less likely to risk their job for a few nuggets of gold.

Mines are usually found by panning in streams and rivers.  You keep going upstream until you can’t find any more gold.  That gives you the starting point where the gold is being eroded into the streams and a strong possibility that there is un-eroded gold under the ground.

They did show us some gold imbedded in the crystal in the ceiling above.  Of course the ceiling was about 4 feet higher than I could reach.  I tried to convince Gypsy to let me stand on her shoulders, but she muttered something about she wasn’t letting some bald fat man use her as walking stilts in some greedy carnival act.

Can you see the gold nugget in the crystal?

We went as far as 500 feet underground.  To give you an idea how deep that is, if you have ever seen the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center, it is 500 feet high.

Next up…propane problems and solutions.

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