::Logan looks at the old Little Ranch and Moore Mine Dam
In South Jackson, by Raley’s, is another of those concrete dams that were constructed in our quartz mining era — generally 1851 to 1942 — to allow a gold mine to operate. Others are the Argonaut dam, just off Sutter Street, extended behind Jackson Junior High School, and the massive dam behind the Amador Senior Center, which impounded Kennedy Mine waste from 1914 to 1942.
Anti-debris dams? Jackson’s own Congressman Anthony Caminetti, if memory serves, authored the legislation that created the California Anti-Debris Commission in the 1890s. Its job — to make sure that all California gold mines impounded or barricaded their mine waste, to prevent despoiling creeks and rivers.
Both the Argonaut and Kennedy dams arose c1915-1917, the Central Eureka’s Allen Pond, near Sutter Creek, about then, and various barricades were built to stop silt in some of the tributaries of Dry Creek.
Logan’s lens is atop what he calls Meeks Hill, after pioneer settler Hiram Meek. Today, we might call it Cinema Hill, or South Jackson Mine Hill. Today, the Regal Jackson Cinemas 4 sit at its foot and years ago on the slope of that hill was the South Jackson, a middling mine whose shaft descended maybe 600 feet and was mainly developed c1914. A guess is that today’s South Street in Jackson, which indeed heads southerly from Broadway and Marcucci, was named for the mine.
A memory of that. One day, many years ago, mining engineer Walter Hardgrove hailed the writer. We went out to where the cinema is now and on its slope was a huge depression formed when the shaft collapsed. Took a photo. Developer Ned Vukovich or someone had to fill it in and block off that deep shaft before work could proceed.
From the hill, with a telephoto lens, you can capture a panoramic view — above the rooftops — of Jimmy Laughton’s place, or the old Little ranch. Note Laughton’s tallest barn breaks the horizontal line of the 360-foot-long anti-debris dam built in 1922-23 when the nearby Moore Mine began its third or fourth incarnation. You might make a score of trips to Raley’s Shopping Center and never spy it, because of a fence that hides the view.
Otherwise, one could turn on Fuller Road off Highway 49 south, park a short ways up, and walk — if no barbed wire impedes — to an upstream view of the dam.
The Moore Mine seems to be on the same westerly Mother Lode vein as the Anita, Alma, Kennedy and Argonaut, or it could be an extension of the easterly vein which includes the Zeile, the Ginocchio and the Bellwether. Ask Doug Ketron or some other mining engineer.
Hope springs eternal in a mine developer’s psyche. Otherwise, why reopen a mine that failed twice before? The mine’s last revival proved the best, over $560,000 produced from 1922-29, from an inclined shaft close to 2300 feet. But before it could operate and crush ore in the new 20-stamp mill, the Anti-Debris Commission had to sign off on debris mitigation plans.
Records of the Moore Mine’s anti-debris construction, and a rough sketch of the proposed dam are in the National Archives, in San Bruno. Engineer Horace Perry made the sketch of the proposed 360-foot dam across the gulch, 20 feet tall at center above bedrock. Presumably it was built the same way.
The Moore Mine’s anti-debris dam can be seen from Cinema Hill, above the Holiday Inn, in South Jackson. photo courtesy of larry cenotto
On one trip, perhaps in 1995, Logan inspected the dam and found a date impressed in what was wet concrete. He’s lost the note, but it had to be in 1922, for it was during October of that year that the mill crushed its first ore.