The Kentucky Mine, located just east of Sierra City on Highway 49, was a small hard rock gold mine. The mine is now part of the Kentucky Mine Historic Park where tours of the mine and stamp mill are offered during the summer.
The Kentucky Mine claim was first established in 1853 and mining was done there until 1896 when the claim was abandoned and the original 10-stamp mill torn down. In 1910 Emil Loeffler, his son Adolph, and his brother Paul, filed a claim on the abandoned Kentucky Mine. Emil was the butcher in Sierra City and a gold miner who had worked at several local mines. When his son, Adolph, returned from service during World War I, father and son started mining. From 1928 to 1933, Emil and Adolph built the water-powered 10-stamp mill you see today. They used ‘found materials,’ meaning they salvaged material, including the machinery and massive timbers, from local abandoned mines. The stamp mill they built is a huge structure housed within its own building. It has multiple processing levels and stands well over 60 feet top to bottom.
They operated the mine together until 1944, when tragically, Adolph lost his life in a mine explosion. Emil never returned to the mine after that. However, the family retained ownership while others worked the mine from 1944 until 1953 when operations ended.
In 1974 Sierra County purchased the Kentucky Mine from the Loeffler family preserving this unique example of small-scale hard rock gold mining.