(FOX40.COM) — It was announced on Wednesday that President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be meeting at the Filoli Estate, a residence that has close ties to Nevada County’s gold mining history.
Originally built as the Bourn-Roth Estate in 1917, William Bowers Bourn II purchased 709 acres in Woodside for $89,000 ($3 million in 2023 dollars) with profits from his world-famous Empire Mine, just outside of Grass Valley.
By the time the Bourn Estate was completed the house and gardens covered 16 acres of the 709 acre property.
Bourn II inherited Empire Mine from his father in 1879 at the age of 22 when it looked like the mine had taken out all the gold it could.
Needing a place to live with his family while visiting the mine, Bourn II had a “cottage” built in 1897 within sight of the mine.
The cottage was built in the style of an English manor as Bourn II had studied in England at Cambridge University in 1875 and enjoyed the architectural style.
Still believing that there was more gold to be found in the depths of the earth, Bourn had the company reorganized and sunk several shafts beyond the 1,200-foot level.
It would not be until 1884 that the mine would once again see success after operating on a knife’s edge for several years.
Much of the success of the mine was owed to Bourn’s cousin George W. Starr who had been working at the Empire Mine since he was 19 and in six years had worked his way to being a superintendent.
Besides making Bourn and his family extremely wealthy, Empire Mine also brought over skilled miners from Cornwall, England which led to Grass Valley’s population in 1890 to be somewhere 85 percent Cornish.
These men would spread the word of Empire Mine and make it one of the most famous mines in the world.
Miners across the country and the world also heard about how well managed Empire Mine was as Bourn and Starr invested heavily in mining technology improvements that made it one of the most progressive and safest mines in the world.
In 1929, Bourn would sell off the Empire Mine to Newmont Mining Corporation as his health began to fail. He would eventually die in 1936.
When Empire Mine officially ceased operations in May 1957 an estimated six million ounces of gold had been pulled from the mine or about $11.7 billion in 2023 dollars.