The History of the Kennedy Mine

The Discovery

The history of the Kennedy Mine dates back to January 4, 1860, when Andrew Kennedy, John Fullen, James Fleming, and James Berringan filed mining claims in the area near today’s Viewpoint along Highway 49/88. Andrew Kennedy had explored the area up to the Oneida Mine boundary line to the North and is credited with digging a prospecting shaft to a depth of 100 feet using a winch with a handle and bucket. This shaft was located approximately 400 feet south of the Oneida boundary line and may have been dug as early as 1855. Andrew’s three partners were associated with the Oneida Mine at the time the mining claims were filed.

The Formation of the Kennedy Mining Company

Andrew Kennedy sold his one quarter interest in the undeveloped mining claim for $5,000.00 on October 4, 1861. The four partners operated sporadically along one whim shaft until 1869, when the Mine was sold to eleven Jackson businessmen for $1.00 on November 22, 1869. Nine of these men formed a corporation named the “Kennedy Mining Company.”

Peter Reichling, one of the nine corporate members, operated the Mine periodically as superintendent for a total of 41 months between 1870 and June 1878. During this time, at least three new shafts were sunk, including the “South Shaft,” which yielded gold. The Kennedy Mining Company is credited with recovering $300,000 in gold value between 1870 and 1878, although the amount of gold recovered prior to 1870 by the partnership is unknown. Several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Kennedy Mining Company to reopen the Mine after 1878.

The Need for More Capital: Kennedy Mining and Milling Company

In 1886, the Mine was sold again for $97,500 to fifteen Bay Area investors after prominent mining engineer J.J. Thomas had performed extensive ground testing. The lead investor was Francis Reichling, the older brother of Peter. The new investors incorporated under the name of the “Kennedy Mining and Milling Company.”

With the infusion of more capital into the business, the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company was able to make significant improvements. They employed an experienced manager and engineer, J.J. Thomas, who successfully operated the mine profitably. Several factors contributed to the change in profitability, including a larger amount of investment capital from the fifteen investors to purchase up-to-date mining machinery, the implementation of effective mining engineering concepts by J.J. Thomas, the availability of sufficient water from the Sierra to effectively use water power to run the mining machinery, and the discovery of rock at greater depth with a higher quantity of gold. These factors combined to make the Kennedy Mine more profitable under the management of the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company.

World War II and the Closing of the Mines

The Kennedy Mine, the deepest gold mine in North America, operated successfully until it was closed in 1942 by the U.S. Government due to the war effort. It remained closed for three years, and despite the lifting of Order L-208 in 1945, management at the Kennedy Mine chose not to reopen due to extensive water accumulation in the underground excavations. By that time, gold production at the Kennedy Mine had totaled over $28,000,000.

The Anaconda Mining Corporation considered purchasing the Kennedy Mine and the nearby Argonaut Mine during and after World War II, but factors such as low gold prices, labor availability, high labor costs, flooding in the mines, and maintenance costs led to the decision not to reopen the mines as the costs of re-opening exceeded the expected profit.

The Kennedy Mine Re-Opens as a Historic Site

In 1961, Sybil Arata, a ceramics teacher from San Francisco, purchased the 154-acre Kennedy Mine at a liquidation sale for $41,600. She retired and lived in the historic Bunkhouse Manager’s Residence on the mine grounds for many years.

Sybil passed away in 1994 and left a will with two wishes: (1) to keep the Kennedy Mine property as open space for wildlife habitat, and (2) to maintain the mine for its historical value.

In 1996, the Kennedy Mine Foundation was formed to fulfill Sybil’s wishes. Today, the mine is open for tours of the historic grounds, including school tours and special group tours. Experienced guides share the fascinating story of this historic mine, which played a significant role in building the State of California.

 

Kennedy Wheel
Headframe 1928

Headframe & Machine Shop1928

1914_KennedyGoldMine

1914_KennedyGoldMine

Tailing Elevators

Tailing Elevators

North Shaft

Kennedy Mine - 1921

Kennedy Mine – 1921

Kennedy Mine North Shaft

Kennedy Mine North Shaft

Sybil Arata 1964

Sybil Arata 1964

Educational Field Trips – Adventures to Remember!

Educational Field Trips – Adventures to Remember!

The Kennedy Mine is a non-profit, volunteer historical landmark, located about an hour east of Stockton and Sacramento offering one of the best school tours in the Mother Lode. Our volunteer staff offers a historically accurate, educational and fun experience for students of all ages and grades. WE PROVIDE THE ENTIRE PROGRAM so the teachers can relax and have fun too!

read more
Monthly PARANORMAL Nights at Kennedy Gold Mine! 3rd Saturday

Monthly PARANORMAL Nights at Kennedy Gold Mine! 3rd Saturday

Monthly – 3rd Saturday: Join experienced Paranormal Investigators as they lead you through this historic property on their Paranormal Investigations. See for yourself if miners still work the mine! Space is limited so reserve your place now!

Evening 7-hour Paranormal Investigations: 6 pm to 1 am – $75 per person, $50 per person for Amador and Calaveras residents (ID required). Next dates are: Sep. 23rd, 2023 • Oct. 21, 2023 • Nov. 18, 2023

Click for more information.

read more