Thursday, May 21, 2009


I really liked the post about the possible chance to dig Cerro Gordo. I mean really! I liked the idea so much that I spent last night thinking about all of the ramifications of digging at this old mining town. First off I know nothing about Cerro Gordo except what I have heard through the rumor mill. I see by a comment to the post that one person says it has been dug - well duh - any place that has a way into it and was populated before 1890 has been dug, but that doesn't mean it has "all" been dug.
So... it looks like the ante is $1000 just for the opportunity to dig and then anything you dig the owner gets half of. Hmm... I live up in the Northern California gold country and it appears that its a all day drive for me to get to the "diggings". That means its a all day drive to get home.
All day drive equals about $100 in gas, food etc. That's $1000 buy in ,$200 gas food etc. so I am in $1200 before I find a place to stay, buy food for the time I am at the diggings etc. I guess if I was going to go all the way to Cerro Gordo to dig I would stay a minimum of 3 days or so, possibly more. That's probably another $500 out of pocket at today's prices.
Well , here I am at the diggings and only into the trip $1700 or $1800, but feeling good about my chances of bagging a Miller's fifth or flask and if I am really lucky a Clubhouse! Oh! are we digging trash layers or will we be digging some privy's? Don't know - never been here.
Trash layers are cool - you can dig em by yourself. Now if I get into a hole over, say 6 feet deep, I am going to need a partner to pull buckets etc. Wait, that means another $1000 buy in for my partner and the good old owner gets half of my partners share?
I never was that good at math but I reckon that if the owner gets half of my partners share then my share is now worth one quarter?
Just for grins lets say we dig a Miller's fifth, that's my partner, and I, and our 1/2 partner the owner. What's a Miller's going for today? I had heard through the grapevine that AP had a Miller's for sale at $10,000. Sounds like a fair price for that rare of a bottle
Ok -Ok we have the dug Miller's, I want to put it in my collection, but, I have to buy out my partners. Well that's $5000 to the land owner, $2500 to my digging partner, and my $1000 buy in, another, say $1000 in expenses and we have a $10,000 bottle that I just dug and paid $9500 for. I told you my math skills were weak, but I am pretty sure this all adds up. - Wow if I pony up another $500 I could buy AP's Miller's and not even break a sweat.
Of course there is the glory of digging a very rare and important bottle, but for me I don't believe the glory is worth $9500.
Boy - I don't even want to think about the numbers if you sold your share of the dug Miller's.
Oh, lets do think about it - $10,000 bottle, half to property owner, one quarter to your partner, $1000 buy in. If my math is correct my share of the Miller's would be $1500?
Friggin' peanuts!
God forbid you dig 3 Miller's. Lets do the math - 3 Miller's = $30,00. Owners share $15,000, partners share $$7500, My share $7500 minus the $1000 buy in =$6500. $6500 crap! I just dug 3 Miller's and have to pay $3500 to keep one - is this funky or what?
Y'all have fun digging Cerro Gordo


  1. Well, I see that you "get it". It's a winner for the poor guy that's stuck with that townsite and a loser for bottle diggers. No thanks, I'll stick with the poor enough local diggins; after all, they've been keepin' me happy for a few years.

  2. Earlier this spring, my brother, my friend, and I made the trek up to Cerro Gordo and we camped in the surrounding Owens Valley area. Our exploratory trip produced a few handfuls broken Whiskey and Hostetter's shards, but nothing much else to write home about. I did manage to find one whole example of an applied top Quart beer halfway buried in the dirt near one of the ravines near Cerro Gordo....but I simply left it right where I found it since it was on/near private property. Had it been a Miller's Fifth....well, that may have been a different story. Since we didn't have permission to do any digging at Cerro Gordo, I became content just taking some black and white photos of the Old American Hotel, as well as some of the original and restored buildings at the town site. Such a magnificent place!

    I think the opportunity to dig Cerro Gordo (a.k.a. "Fat Hill or Fat Vein") is a great idea! And I'd definitely consider joining in the fun if it was for around a hundred bucks or so...but a $1000 seems pretty ridiculous, not to mention that you don't even get to keep all of what you find. How about $1000 and you get to dig to your heart's content (and whatever you happen to find) -- even then, it's still a HUGE risk. If I do decide to go for it, it won't be because I'm making any kind of logical decision, rather it will be solely for the adventure and experience of getting to dig in such a Historic and Legendary Ghost Town. I've always figured the only true opportunity I'll have to put a Miller's Fifth on my shelf is to go out and dig one myself....But with the currently proposed rules it would cost you more $$$$ to dig a "heavy" there and keep it, than the bottle is probably worth in today's market. One question....Who will be setting the values for the bottles that are found?? Holabird and Patterson? The diggers who find them? At an upcoming Auction? Some would argue a mint Miller's fifth is worth as much as $14,000 while one of my friends said he would possibly sell me his darker-amber Miller's for as low as $6,500....Still too rich for my blood. Regardless of value, it's still an extremely rare and desirable fifth -- what a dream it would be to dig one....But if I just so happened to unearth a mint on at Cerro Gordo, would I even consider buying it out for $9,500? No way, no chance, no how!

    Hopefully this opportunity will bring forth tons of freshly dug Whiskeys to the bottle scene, and in turn, bring the sky-high prices of some of the most elusive Western whiskies back down to the point where DIGGERS can actually afford to keep what they DIG...I sure hope that they all come out by the case-load! The American Hotel's Outhouse has yet to be dug from what I've been told.....But it lies beneath a MASSIVE TAILINGS PILE that would likely require a full-scale mining operation and weeks....months....maybe even years of shovel, pick, and backhoe to uncover.

    On another note, I wonder just what other types of "dream permissions and digs" I could possibly line up if I put $1000 to work for me in some sort of a preemptive digging fund?!?!?

    In order to come up with $1000 soon, it looks like I'll be selling another fifth right off the shelf in order to pay the "toll" for Cerro Gordo.

  3. Anonymous,
    Is that a yea or a nay for digging Cerro Gordo?
    I would think a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and I sure wouldn't be selling a $1000 fifth to roll the dice at Fat Hill. Then again, if it wasn't for gamblers there wouldn't be a Cerro Gordo.

  4. A trip there for the 1k admission price ain't about bottles if that's what your after. It's about the experience, history, mystique, lore and this incredible ghost town that played a major role in the development of the Southern California area. I was there with friends on a 4 day digging trip in 83 and dig we did but find bottles well that's another story. I dug seven busted Miller's flask and one 1/5 but the area they came from may of been flipped many years prior by another digger, it was hard to tell. Your chances of hand digging anything there now days is about as good as winning the lottery, it's been hammered by hand diggers and backhoes for more than 40 years.

    I found Jody to be an incredible lady with a wonderful personality. It was my birthday, she surprised me with a cake and an offer to stay as long as I wanted. The scenery up there and the history that abounds is just awesome. For me it's not always about bagging a trophy when your on an adventure like that. Even though I came home bottle-less that trip was worth every moment and dime spent to make it happen. I would do it again knowing I'd likely not find anything just for the experience but not with that kind of arrangement and admission price.

  5. Hey G.O.,

    Similar to what Golden Plantation said...

    It's a definite "nay" if you're simply looking at it as any sort of a good judgement investment. The chances of digging any embossed whiskey after a few whole days of digging by hand is about 6.7 percent. I just made that percentage up (it's probably less than that), but you get the point.

    It might be a "yay" if you're looking at it as a vacation, trip, and unique experience. But we all know that digging isn't most people's idea of a "relaxing vacation." Cerro Gordo is in the middle-of-nowhere-isolated-high-desert and it's going to be hotter than heck up there under an unforgiving sun. It's very difficult for me to even think about saying "yay" when $1,000 can go towards a number of days on a tropical beach with a hammock and margarita....or keeping my Old Castle Fifth on the shelf to see another day!?!?

  6. Anynomous.... if you can get your friend's Millers 1/5 for 6500. you either have a very good friend or one of the Millers that has more epoxy than glass in it !


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