POKERVILLE GOLD MINE & STAMP MILL
Turn of the Century Pokerville Gold Mine Operates at the Fair
There’s high-tech and low tech gold mining taking place on the Amador County Fairgrounds. The low-tech method is gold panning and you can try it for yourself in the shadows of the Pokerville Gold Mine. High-tech would be the antique engine powered stamp mill and jaw crusher operation of the authentic Pokerville Gold Mine. You can hear the Bam! Bam! Bam! of the rock crusher as you walk down the main street of the Fair.
This permanent display at the Amador County fair allows visitors to see first-hand how gold mining operations were actually carried out more than 150 years ago by the 49’er gold miners. This unique peek into the past is being made possible because of the efforts of Bob Wolin, of Jackson, and a crew that comes from as far away as Reno and Los Angeles. Many years ago, the town of Plymouth was called “Pokerville.” Wolin said it is appropriate that this project be named the “Pokerville Gold Mine.”
Wolin noted the Amador County Fair is the only fair in the state that has an actual working gold mine. “Today, when history buffs visit old gold mining displays, in almost every case none of the equipment is in operating condition. We hope to give the public the gift of a living history lesson by having all components of the gold mine working as it did in the 1850s. There are gold mines in operation today but most people would never know they exist. Most modern gold mines are operated inside a building out of the public’s view. The methods of extracting gold are far different than the process used more than a century ago. By restoring the old-time gold mine, the public will be able to see a period of history that would otherwise be lost forever,” said Wolin.
The restoration project has been underway for several years and Wolin is happy to note they’re heading down the home-stretch. “All of the major components are now in place and we’re in the final stages of restoration. We’ve added a jaw crusher and a concentration table that plays a key role in the gold-mine mining process. The rhythm of the table, coupled with the flow of water across the riffles, causes the gold to become separated from the finely crushed rock that has been processed by the stamp mill,” explained Wolin.
Fair visitors are invited to come over under the trees to see the operation in progress – there are daily demonstrations listed in your Fair schedule. The Gold Mine is adjacent to the historic sawmill and the display of antique engines and equipment.
If you would like to volunteer at the Pokerville Gold Mine stop and see Tom Wait or Bob Wolin. Come say hello, sign in and have a starting salary nearly equal to that of the people above. Some come a great distance for the chance to get dirty and greasy, and stand in the hot sun while talking to the visitors.