Although not a large book in terms of pages, McQuiston’s Saga of the Empire Mine is big in
terms of information. Starting out with a historical background of gold that stretches back 6,000
years, details concerning the discovery of gold in the U.S., the early treatment of gold ore, and
the discovery of cyanidation are then well-covered. A good section on the development of mining
equipment is also presented.
The remainder of the book has to do with the Empire Mine; its early history, the various owners, stamp mill problems, geology of the Grass Valley area, and the two Bourns, William Sr. and William Jr. The eventual closing of the mine and its subsequent purchase by the California State Department of Parks and Recreation are also covered.
The book includes many historic photos of the mine, a glossary of mining terms, and a gold production chart of the mines in the Grass Valley and Nevada City mining district. I’d have to say that just about everything you’d want to know about the Empire Mine is well covered in this book.--E. K.