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Sierra Nevada Recreation
P.O. Box 78, Vallecito, CA 95251
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|FACT SHEET - PERMANENTLY CLOSED September 12, 2011
Sutter Gold Mine was purchased by U.S. Energy Corporation, Riverton, Wyoming on May 23rd 1991 from FMC Gold which had completed the construction of the decline and crosscuts, developed the sub-levels via new raises (ladder/staircase walkways) and drilled 65 underground diamond cored holes. U.S. Energy set up a subsidary called Sutter Gold Mining Company to run the mining operation before the price of gold plummeted, making the mining of gold uneconomical.
While the mine was idle for gold production, local interest was high, and private underground tours were offered by Sutter Gold Mining Company to local schools. In December 1998 the mine was opened to the public for daily guided tours until Sutter Gold Mining Company ceased operation in the fall of 1999.
On May 12, 2001 Sierra Nevada Recreation entered into an agreement with U.S. Energy Corporation to lease the property and conduct tours into Sutter Gold Mine.
Sutter Gold Mine is located in a historic mining area of California, which has been active in prospecting and mining since the 19th century. This area is known as the Gold Country or the Mother Lode, and was the site of the California Gold Rush.
The area which now comprises the Sutter Gold Mine houses several historic gold mines including the Lincoln Mine which was operated intermittently between 1851 and 1876, the Mahoney and Wildman Mines operated between 1851 and 1905, and the North Star Property worked between the 1880s and 1946.
Hardrock mining, the method used at Sutter Gold Mine is the underground method, in contrast with the placer method where surface material containing particles of gold can be washed out. Hardrock mining is accomplished by sinking a shaft deep into ground containing a vein or ore pocket with drifts (tunnels) radiating out on various levels to remove the gold bearing quartz rock.
Sutter Gold Mine is located on what used to be the town of Herbertville established about 1851. Herbertville was home to about 300 people at its boom during the Gold Rush.
Sutter Gold Mine is situated in metavolcanic rock and metasedimantary rock which is formed in deep-water sedimentary environments in areas marginal to active volcanism. The most prominent rock type is greenstone which contains the gold-bearing quartz veins.
Gold is found in the quartz vein structures either as free particles attached to pyrite crystals, or locked within the crystal latice of pyrite or fools gold. Some gold is also found disseminated within the greenstone in a very fine-grained form which is invisible and scattered.
1-hour underground guided tours take visitors 1,280 linear feet into the mine to a depth of 400 feet below the surface in an open topped mining vehicle called the Boss Buggy Shuttle. The next part of the tour takes visitors into the Safety Chamber, and then through an elevated drift (tunnel) via a staircase. Participants descend from the drift and board the Boss Buggy shuttle to exit the mine.