Here’s How One Guy Built His Own Version Of A California Gold Mine

Gold became highly concentrated in California, as the result of tectonic plates, volcanoes, and erosion over millions of years. During the California Gold Rush over 300,000 “Forty-Niners” migrated to the mountains of California in search of gold.

One of our skillful DIY subscribers decided to build a gold mine of his own and share his backyard project with us! Here is a photo of it on display at his Dad’s home in southern California. In Johnny’s own words he explains his building process.

 This is an original California gold mine car

He gave the mining car to me. So I am going to take it home and make a “Gold Mine” display.

Hauling It Home To Oregon

We emptied it and then rolled it up ramps to get it into the truck. Hauled it home to Oregon, along with a quad that a friend of mine brought home from southern CA. (It’s a Cannondale)

Just A Tad Heavy!

We rolled it off the truck. It is just a little heavy, well real heavy!

A fake Gold Mine?

My goal was to make a fake gold mine, a display in the far corner of our retaining wall I had built. Back where that ladder is.

Steel Rails

My Dad had given me the steel rails, this shows the mining car in a place where the display will be.

Guard Rail Ties Are A Must

I bought used guard rail ties. It took 17 total of the ties to complete the display.

Making The Mine Walls

Drilled holes through all the ties toward the top and on the lower part. Then used galvanized all-thread to bolt them together. This will make one of the mine walls.

Looking Less “Store Bought”

This is a photo of the steel I used. I used lag bolts to connect it to the ties. It will be used to tie the walls to the roof beams. I made the square washers on my iron worker. I thought this would make the display look less “store bought”.

Good Thing I Have A Pickup Truck

Once the walls were made, I needed a way to pick them up and move them into place. My truck and the ladder rack with some additional beams did the trick. Used a come-a-long to pick them up, just like a crane.

The Walls Are in Place

It took some doing but finally got the walls where I wanted them. Then braced them while I picked up the roof ties. I picked them up and tossed them up there by hand. Then used lag bolts with square washers to attached the steel angle. Made it pretty solid.

Dark Mine Tunnel

Bought some black concrete paint and painted the back wall. Hope it will make it look like a dark mine tunnel.

More Roof Ties

Next added more roof ties and a couple short ones on the back right to fill in where there wasn’t any concrete. The triangle “hole” in the roof will be filled in with steel plate.

Love The Junk Yard

Up on top, you can see the steel plate I bought from the scrap yard. Should be strong enough to hold up a mountain!

Keeping It Stable

Drilled holes in the steel plate and used lag bolts to bolt it in place. I wasn’t afraid of it moving, I was wanting to tie all the wood ties together. The more stable the better.

All By Hand

We went to the local rock quarry and loaded rock by hand so we could get something besides gravel. Doing it by hand was very hard work, but we loaded sizes we wanted. We stopped loading when the  8-ply tires said “uncle”. Well, not really, we just got wore out.

Rubber Sheet To Keep Everything Dry

After the steel plate, I installed a rubber sheet to help keep all things dry. This is the stuff they use under man-made waterfall projects. It’s like a very thick inner tube in sheet form.

Time to Add Decorations!

On top of the rubber sheet we put all that rock we brought home. And along the sides to help it look like a mine dug from a rock hillside. Hey, use your imagination! The next step is to add “decorations”, like an old lantern, pick axe, etc…things my Dad has given me over the last few years.

Thanks for enjoying the article from one of our subscribers! Are you a skilled DIYer that wants to have your article featured? Send an email to [email protected] with your images and story and one of our team members will get back to you! 

In the meantime, if you want to try some DIY projects of your own you can now access over 16,000 woodworking plans. Ted’s Woodworking plans have step-by-step instructions, photos and diagrams to make every project laughably easy. Watch this video to gain full access.

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