The Road from hell - November 2012
The vein itself is roughly 1.5 feet wide. The discoverers of this vein (Czizek) would mine this in the early 1900's. Two people would pull out roughly 750oz of free milling gold per summer.
They processed the gold like the ancient Romans. By super heating the quartz it would make it brittle and easy to crush.
Czizek treated the mine like a bank. They only mined the vein when they needed some money. Consequently, this mine was in operation when it shut down in 1915.
Most Hardrock operations in this area were underground.
Geology and Ore Deposits of the Warren Mining District
The next morning we started sampling. The only recent information we had went back to a company called Goldstone Minerals and a reference to "the hanging wall" from Czizek.
This work revealed a 1.5foot wide quartz vein grading 2.12 oz/ton gold and filling a steeply dipping fracture within quartz monzonite which is strongly altered for 2 to 3 feet on either side of the vein where it assays .056 oz/ton gold. These values would therefore produce a weighted average grade of .57 oz/ton over a minded width of 6 feet.
I wanted samples from this spot. The old lesson here is verifying the historical record.
Our camp was at 7200 feet above sea level. The first night was cool but bearable in a tent. This night the weather had changed. The temp dropped and there was a light wind. I couldn't sleep from the chattering of my teeth and finally surrendered to sleeping in my truck with the heater on.
When I awoke, there was already several inches of snow. We had to break camp in a hurry as the snow was making the road more treacherous by the minute. By the time we got underway, there was 6 inches of snow and big flakes.
"Put it in 4x4 low and don't touch the brake. Let your truck idle out" Dan cautioned.
In a desperate bid to make the corner, I cranked as far as the wheel would turn and pinned the gas pedal to the floor.
Time really does seem to slow down when your facing a life threatening moment. This feeling that washes over you is the realization that you have done all you can do and its not enough.
What happened next in that same moment, my front passenger tire hit a pile of debris so hard that the momentum threw the truck back up onto the road.
I came to a stop and heard Dan call me on the radio.
I was into day two of driving. I had just crossed the boarder into Washington State from Osoyos and made it to Clarkston Lewiston late in the evening. There I would meet Sgt. Dan Hally and we spent the next day going over what limited information we had on the Lucky Ben.
Earlier in the year I was doing research on mines to invest in and came across Sidney Resources and the Lucky Ben mine. The assay's showed .5oz gold per ton average but where oh where did Bill Brown find his samples. We had to decode his sampling system.
The mine manager (Bill Brown) had suffered a major stroke and the project was in limbo. Myself, Dan and others had taken steps to see what could be done.
It was a nice drive to Warren Idaho. Dan took a moment to show me the "White Bird Battlefield" Memorial. Brave people!
We made it out there by about noon. We managed to locate an old cabin, explore the road, and switchbacks on the west side.
I could not help but see Placer potential in here. With such high grade mineral deposits, glaciation and river systems, there had to be ground that wasn't viable in the old days but would be worth a mint now.
The bridge that was put in was in good shape and quality. One of Bill Brown Accomplishments while managing this project. It was like any forestry bridge and would be able to handle ore trucks.
Our next location was the audit itself. Not too far in, was a collapse that had closed access to most of the tunnel. There was enough room for a crawl space but to me it was too dangerous to attempt getting past the slide.
The problem was that there was no virgin vein material suitable for sampling. Instead, we picked pieces of mineralized ore from around the ore car rails that were still in place.
The wood supporting these rails had long since rotted away from the ground water.
We moved down below the audit and discovered significant quartz veining. It appeared this was a massive and deep fault.
I only had one problem...I could not get the 4x4 low to engage. I was dismayed as the transfer case had just been professionally installed in the spring. I could get 4x4 high working though and I also engaged the tow/haul on the transmission.
It was at that moment where I was thankful I had taken out health insurance and life insurance for this trip.
I followed Dan out, giving him plenty of room ahead of me. Initially I was able to hold enough traction on the down grade but before long I had picked up too much speed to make the next corner.
"I'm still here" I exclaimed in response. "I'm still here"
I took a moment to exit the truck and survey the damage. I was shocked to see a few small dents and the air bags had not deployed either.
I attempted to get the 4x4 low to engage and this time it did!The steering wheel was not true anymore but the steering system was still working.
'I just may drive away from this' I thought to myself.
The truck idled down the rest of the mountain without incident. The snow was deep and getting deeper. I met Dan at the bottom and he followed me out from there.
I was on edge driving back to Clarkston Lewiston for repairs. I had bent a non wearable part and the tie rods had to be replaced too.
It was a long haul back to BC but I had Johnny Cash to listen to.
"Load 16 tons and what do you get. Another day over and deeper in dept. St peter don't you call me cause I can't go....I owe my soul to the company store"
Thank you - Leighton Woolsey (AKA) Mitch Mortensen