Silverville Mine

(24 September 2015)

^ ^ ^ The hike to the Silverville Mine is an easy 500 yard stroll (third of a mile) through a pleasant little valley.

WARNING: DO NOT park your car in front of the main gate to the abandoned youth camp on Mil Potrero Highway as the USDA has issued parking violations there that carry a hefty fine ($280 has been reported).

^ ^ ^ If you are coming from the abandoned youth camp side of the road, you can use this culvert under the roadway to avoid fast moving traffic. It also avoids having to scramble over the guard rail and embankment on the other side. The tunnel is high and wide so you can walk through easily (no crouching). If hiking with dogs, this is also a safe and easy way to get them across the road.

^ ^ ^ You enter this pleasant valley which was the original route of the El Camino Viejo (The Old Highway) used in the late 1700s and early 1800s as a wagon trail. Remarkably, this ancient roadway once provided a continuous route all the way from San Diego to San Francisco.

^ ^ ^ Strolling along an old road bed that has possibly evolved from the the original El Camino Viejo (The Old Highway) route. In other words, it might be the original wagon trail that was later upgraded by miners or ranchers over the years.

^ ^ ^ There is no defined trail to follow but the going is pretty easy apart from stepping over (or going around) several fallen trees like this one.

You can walk along sections of an old road, you can walk in the creek bed, or you can follow faint animal or human trails. Most likely you will follow a combination of all three as you make your way down the gently sloping valley.

^ ^ ^ When you encounter this steel cable stretched between the trees, you are very near the mine.

Start looking for the mine entrance near the foot of the slope on your right-hand side. It is easy to spot if you keep an eye out for it.

^ ^ ^ There are two cables spanning the width of the valley with a gate (that is now missing) in between.

^ ^ ^ The mine entrance comes into view as you go around a large tree just past the steel cables.

The GPS coordinates are latitude: 34o 51' 00" North and longitude: 119o 05' 48" West.

^ ^ ^ The mine was owned an operation by a single individual named William Sagerman. He started mining in June 1982 calling his enterprise the Silverville Mine. Despite the name he gave to his mine, it was not a silver mine but rather he was mining platinum and other rare metals.

^ ^ ^ I don't recommend going into old mine shafts.

^ ^ ^ The mine only tunnels in about eight feet or so. William Sagerman started his mining operation in June 1982, so this is quite recent in terms of local history.

^ ^ ^ This cross member is deteriorating badly suggesting the mine was abandoned a long time ago.

^ ^ ^ The log structure that shores up the mine shaft inside.

^ ^ ^ This piece of shaped metal sheeting was possibly a painted sign naming the mine or maybe discouraging trespassers.

Some history and details about the Silverville Mine can be gleaned from an 1987 edition of the local newspaper, the Mountain Enterprise.

"Mr. William Sagerman greets you when you come up to the location of the Silverville Mine. June 1st marked the fifth anniversary since Mr. Sagerman began extraction of the ore which contains platinum, rhodium, palladium, iron group minerals, etc. He mentioned platinum being recovered in the amount of $800 a ton. Gold and silver are not present in significant quantities."

"After taking the ore from the mine shaft with a hammer, chisel, pick and shovel, it is ground into a very fine grey powder in a gasoline powered ball mill on the site. Sagerman, who is the sole owner and operator of the mine, then packs the grey powder into five-gallon tins which are placed in crates and shipped to Ohio for processing. He is currently awaiting results from recent assays and says the ore is becoming richer as the shaft is sunk deeper into the canyon wall."

"The 60-year old Sagerman enjoys showing and talking about his Silverville Mine and the beautiful mountain paradise in which he makes his home. He lives with some 16 cats, all named, and a ten year old chicken, not named. Ohio is his home state and his mining interest stems from his childhood association with coal mines."

Mountain Enterprise
15 June 1987

Platinum is extremely rare.....much rarer than gold or silver. Therefore platinum is more valuable because it is rarer and mined much less than gold. Also, platinum is more dense than gold, so the same amount will weigh more in platinum than gold (and precious metals are priced by weight).

Palladium is one of the rarest metals on earth, about 15 times more rare than platinum and 30 times more rare than gold.

Rhodium is the most valuable of all the precious metals. It is over twice as valuable as gold and 154 times more than the price of silver. It is one of the rarest metals on earth.

^ ^ ^ This majestic pine has the scent of "vanilla" which is a way to help indentify the species of tree.

You can continue hiking down the valley for several miles. It eventually joins the trail going through San Emigdio Canyon although an efficient route to get there can be a little tricky to navigate. The valley eventually opens out into meadow-like area that can be swampy in parts. Bare to the right-hand side (north) of this open area to get through to upper San Emigdio Canyon.

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Peter Gray
telephone: +1 (661) 242-1234

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