Roaring Camp Mining Co., an experience of a lifetime!
Written By: Ernie Marlan, August 31, 2012
Location: Mokelumne River- Lower, Mokelumne River- Upper,
The soothing smell of trees, the peaceful flow of the river, the opportunity to hold a piece of gold in your hands and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Those are just a few of the wonderful things my family and I were able to experience during our visit to Roaring Camp Mining Co., located at Clinton Bar in Mokelumne River Canyon.
My wife and our two kids had the opportunity to visit Roaring Camp Mining Co. this summer. I didn’t quite know what to expect since I had never been to a Gold Mining camp. Over the last few years, I had been speaking with Kim, one of the owners of Roaring Camp, about visiting and getting the full experience of the camp. Before heading up the mountain to Pine Grove, I visited their website, http://www.roaringcampgold.com, to try to learn as much as I could about the place. I have to tell you that even though they do a great job describing what you will be able to do at Roaring Camp, the website doesn’t come close to explaining what an amazing experience you and your family can have there.
From the beginning, I knew this trip was going to be different than anything I had experienced before. When we first arrived at the office area, where we were scheduled to check in, we were greeted by the staff, in our case it was Kim. Soon thereafter, we were given a brief rundown of what to expect and what would happen next.
Once we were given the “lay of the land” so to speak and we were assigned our cabin number (if you have selected to stay in a cabin as opposed to tent camping), everyone got back into their cars and followed the camp leader to the entrance to begin our downhill trek into camp. You see, the land has been in the family for over four generations and there is only one way in, and one way out. That being the case, you must follow a family member or employee, most times they are one in the same.
There is so much history in these mountains and canyon. The opportunity to learn this history was presented to us both on the way down the hill, as well as during our stay at Roaring Camp. For instance, on our drive down the hill, we stopped several times for the beginning of our lessons. We stopped at places like “The Fountain of Youth”; the secret is in the water, “Hangman’s Tree”; where outlaws were hung for their crimes for approximately 70 years from around 1849 to around 1920, and the “Road to China Camp”; where during our stay we had an opportunity to take a separate tour for several hours during the day.
Once we arrived in the main camp, we offloaded our gear into our assigned cabin, which was very clean and quite comfortable. We were fortunate enough to stay in a cabin about a rocks throw away from the beautiful view of the Mokelumne River. Once we unpacked, we headed to the Trading Post for our orientation. This is where we learned of the many activities Roaring Camp had to offer. The Trading Post offers both mining supplies as well as food, including cooked lunches and dinners.
Throughout our stay, my son and I took the opportunity to grab a rod and make several casts into the Mokelumne River. As a matter of fact on our first trip to the water, within the first five minutes of casting a rooster tail, I caught and released a beautiful wild rainbow trout which measured around the 18 inch range. The Mokelumne River is home to German Browns, Rainbow Trout and Mountain Pike. This same spot produced several other fish over the next few days. The lures of choice were a black fly and a rooster tail.
When we arrived I thought I would want to fish the entire time because that’s what I like to do. To be honest, there are so many other activities to keep you busy that I got caught up in everything else and didn’t fish as much as I expected.
As I mentioned, I had never been gold mining before. My family and I, as well as anyone else in camp who was interested, were able to participate in a demonstration on Dredging. After the demonstration, everyone interested in trying this particular way of gold mining, was given an opportunity to do so. Everyone worked as a team and the end result was a few flecks of gold. As is the custom following this activity, the camp had a very friendly game of poker that night with kids and adults, for a chance at the gold found that day. The winner was awarded the gold flecks. No one in my family won, but it was fun to participate in both the gold mining as well as the poker game. It was also another great opportunity to speak with and meet many other people in camp.
After the Dredging demonstration was completed, my family and I were able to spend some great family time together. We did everything from pitching horseshoes, playing on the miniature golf course, playing on playground and overall enjoying the camp and people we came in contact with.
Each day and night was filled with something different and even though there was always something to do, you didn’t necessarily have to do anything. You could just take a walk, relax in a chair near your cabin or by the river or talk with the people in camp. My family and I met some of the most amazing people during our stay, not only the family members who worked there, but the fellow campers and miners as well. We learned that several of the families we met make this trip annually and end up camping with the same people every year. What a great way to continue to build lasting friendships.
One of the most memorable activities was a hike my family and I did on our own. The kids found some walking sticks and we grabbed them and headed up along the riverside on a nice trail. We spent a decent amount of time on the trail and found a relaxing spot on some large boulders right along the river. It was such a peaceful place to sit and relax while listening to both the river as well as all the other sounds of nature.
The kids also had an opportunity to swim in the river. A little closer to camp, there is a swimming hole. The great part about this stretch of river is that even though most parts of the water is moving pretty rapidly, it slows down in this one particular area and has very little current which makes for an enjoyable swim.
It was great to learn about the history of gold miners and techniques of gold mining. You definitely have to work hard for your gold and can do so in a multi-step process. The payoff for all your hard work can be quite rewarding. At Roaring Camp Mining Co. there are several options for you to select from. As a matter of fact, you can do one or all of them. You can choose to gold mine on your own, just like they did during the gold rush, you can gold mine very close to camp or you can go further away to other parts of the river or land.
In addition, Roaring Camp can help eliminate some of the hardest work for you. For example, you can choose to purchase a gravel pile, which is dirt and rock dug off a bedrock and run through a process that eliminates much of the larger rocks. If you select this particular way of gold mining, once you have selected your gravel pile, you are provided a Sluice Box, water, buckets and shovels in order to further process the pile. Each person who purchases a pile is given about three hours each day (1 ½ hours in the morning and 1 ½ hours in the afternoon) to work through the dirt and to, hopefully, find gold! Each gravel pile is large enough that even at three hours per day, it is estimated that it will take five to six days to remove the gold from it. This process was amazing to watch and, fortunately for those pile owners, we saw some nice pieces of gold sluiced out of several of the miners’ piles.
One of the main events of the camp is their Saturday night BBQ. Unfortunately, my family and I couldn’t stay quite that long, but from what I understand this BBQ is one of highlights of your stay there. In fact, if nothing else, we may just have to make a trip back there just to experience the BBQ!
I’ve just explained several of the activities and events found at Roaring Camp. However, there is so much more of Roaring Camp that cannot be experienced by just reading this article. If you are looking for a great opportunity to experience the outdoors and maybe something new for you and the family, I would highly recommend taking a trip to Roaring Camp Mining Co. for yourself. You are sure to have a fantastic experience.
For more information you can visit their website at http://www.roaringcampgold.com. You can also reach them at (209) 296-4100.Back To Reports