Thursday, July 23, 2020
THE HISTORIC PRINCESS DITCH TRAIL; A MODERN HIKING TRAIL WITH AN ADIT QUARTZ MINE?
Located 7.4 miles west of Redding on Muletown Road is the historic Princess Ditch. This ditch was formerly owned and operated by the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company of Leadville, Colorado. It was dug out by their employees during 1896 and it was completed in January of 1897. From the source of its water supply at Boulder Creek in the present day, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, its purpose was to convey water to the various quartz mines in the Muletown mining district and to the company's hydraulic mining operations which were situated in Secs. 25 and 26, Township 31, North Range 6 West, and consisted of three hundred acres of patented mineral land.
According to records, there was a drift mine of natural bedrock, and two fifty ft., shafts on the property. This historic water ditch operated in the late 19th Century, and during the early 1900s, by special permit obtained from the California Debris Commision. This permit allowed the Princess Hydrualic Mining Company to operate their hydraulic mining site in Shasta County, even though hydraulic mining had been outlawed in California since 1884. Their last permit was obtained by them in January of 1903, as their hydraulic mining operations continued, the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company was ordered to terminate their hydraulic mining activities due to their retaining wall which was condemned by the California Debris Commission. Their hydraulic mining operations has been idled since 1903.
A century later, in 2014, this historic mining ditch was converted into a modern hiking trail. Those involved in the project were: the Bureau of Land Management, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the McConnell Foundation, the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, among other groups. They connected the Princess Ditch to additional trails in the area. Altogether the trail is a one-way 8.5 mile trail system, moderate to strenuous in parts, which connects with the Mule Ridge trail and the Salt Creek Loop trail.
Above video: "An Abandoned Adit Quartz Mine, On the Historic Princess Ditch Trail." Filmed by Jeremy Tuggle on 7-20-2020.
In 2018, this modern hiking trail was destroyed by the ravaging flames of the deadly Carr Fire. Two years later, the trail system has grown back to its natural state, yet scarring from the fire remains visible. This trail is maintained by the National Park Service.
People can take the trail from its parking lot at the Oak Knoll Trailhead and can walk through some of its original course. However, the trail has its secrets, and one of them is a moderate to strenuous walk on a short over-grown mining road with fallen trees and poison oak. This mining road leads to an unnamed adit quartz mine which is hidden uphill off the trail from public viewing. From the start of the trail system at its parking lot on Muletown Road is a 0.2 hike to the mine's tunnel (if you know where to look for it). This adit quartz mine could have been owned by the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company since they had a drift tunnel on their property.
Yet, it's a possibility that this adit quartz mine is part of the nearby Anavina Group of Mines also known as the Peerless mines, a series of five claims which were lucrative in gold, and located by miners in 1885, to work the mine as a placer mines which later converted into a quartz mine. The original name of the mine is not known to me, and I haven’t found it on any topographic maps of the area but it is an intriguing adit quartz mine which was mined for gold. With cool air flow circulating through this abandoned quartz claim, the tunnel measures an estimated 400 feet that's well worth the time and energy to check out, but as always be safe when entering old mines and take the necessary equipment you need with you.
Miners Want Water - The Los Angeles Herald newspaper of Los Angeles, August 11, 1897
The California Debris Commission - The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, January 18, 1903.
REPORT XIV OF THE STATE MINERALOGIST - MINES AND MINERAL RESOURCES OF CALIFORNIA - CHAPTERS OF STATE MINERALOGIST'S REPORT BIENNIAL PERIOD, 1913-1914. CALIFORNIA STATE MINING BUREAU, CALIFORNIA STATE PRINTING OFFICE, SACRAMENTO. Page 797.
Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, Siskiyou County, and Trinity County, by G. Chester Brown, ©1915 published by California State Printing Office.
Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude A. Steger revision by Helen Hinckley Jones, ©1966 by La Siesta Press, Glendale, California
Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, California – County Report 6 – by Philip A. Lydon and J.C. O’ Brien ©1974 by California Division of Mines and Geology
The Princess Ditch and the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company; Historic Background Research, Evaluation of Significance, and Recommendations. Bureau of Land Management, Redding Field Office. Barbara Woodrum ©2011
Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effect Princess Ditch Trail Construction March 2014 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Whiskeytown National Recreation Area