The 16 to 1 Mine is one of the big boys on the block. Originally producing over one million ounces of gold the 16 to 1 is one of the most famous mines in the Mother Lode. One of very few hard rock lode mines still operating. Not the giant it once was the mine continues to operate at a very small scale producing quality gold in quartz ore for jewelry and commemorative specimens.


1851 – Gold is discovered in Kanaka Creek.

1855 – The Knickerbocker drift tunnel hits a quartz vein.

1860 – Nearby Oriental and Rainbow Mines begin hard rock operations.

1891 – The Knickerbocker tunnel is reopened and the quartz vein ‘tightens’ and is named the Tightner Mine.

1896 – The 16 to 1 claim established to work a quartz out-cropping that turned out to be the Tightner.

1903 – The 16 takes over the Tightner.

1907 – First high grade pocket discovered worth $470,000.

1911 – 16 to 1 incorporated into a partnership. Same corporation that exist today.

1919 – $600,000 pulled from the 16 vein.

1930’s – One ore shoot yields $2,000,000.

WWII – Production slowed, acquired nearby Rainbow and South Fork.

1950’s – 16 acquires Rainbow Extension, Fraction and Red Star.

1963 – Production cost $50/ounce to produce $35/ounce gold.

1965 – The 16 shuts down and all equipment sold at auction.

1977 – Gold prices soar and current management takes over the 16.

1987 – Royal Gold Corp. spends $6,000, 000 de-watering to the 2,200 foot level and rebuilds the mill and hoist.

1990’s – Current management abandons low grade ore operations and concentrates on high grade ore for jewelry.

1992 – Operators begin using metal detectors.

1993 – 2,600 ounces recovered from 890 pounds of ore. Known as the million dollar day.

1995 – Another shoot yields 5,000 ounces.

2002 – No significant shoots found and the 16 begins liquidating specimens.

2012 – The 16 to 1’s president Micheal Miller dreams of getting a phone call from an investor willing to “Fulfill his vision”.

2015 – Government agencies continue to exert pressure on operations at thew 16.

Today – The mine continues to limp along seeking investors and selling jewelry, offering occasional tours to the public and potential shareholders.

I think it is impressive to see such a company persevere the hardships of decades and continue a rare yet noble quest. The quest for gold embedded in hard rock thousands of feet below the earths surface.

If you have been, please leave a review below!

  • JB Bergmann

    Rating: 5 / 5

    This mine has everything an explorer could ask for; tunnels, hoist, drills, compressors, T rail, ore carts, grizzlies, stamp mill, ball mill, mercury retort, you name it they got it! Definitely one of the best tours around!

    TVR has a great vid here :

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