Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Roaring Camp Christmas Letter

Hello everyone!  It's that time of year again to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  My family and I hope that all of you are doing well, we are truly thankful for all of our friends, family and loyal customers. Where does the time go, already almost 2017!  I am happy to report that we had no major disasters in 2016, lots of dead and dying trees not only from the fire but bark beetles hit us hard. We will utilize all that we can in camp, the guys are busy thinking up all the great things they can build with the lumber we get from the trees. The guys are doing some mining, I don't get into camp much this time of year and they try not to tell me what they are digging up, but I understand they have something going on behind the Trading Post. They did some test holes down the road between cabins but decided they would have to dig up all the cabins to find the gold so I THINK they filled in the holes and moved, I guess I should go down there and make sure we still have cabins left (haha).  No new necklace piece for me yet but finding some nice gold, should be good material for the Commons and the Gold Bearing Gravel Piles.

Our Common operations were a big success this last season, in fact we found some of the best gold ever during our 2nd Common Operation.  Of course we had more participates than ever so they were able to move lots of material and it really paid off for them.  I am enclosing a sheet with the cost and the dates for 2017, please do not wait too long if you are thinking of joining one, last year our 2nd Common was full and some of you missed out on the experience. Click here to see our Common Operation 2017 Schedule!

I am also enclosing our 'Dirt of the Month Club' special here.  It is a great way to give the gift of Roaring Camp during the winter months, or just buy one for yourself and call it a Christmas gift.
We will start our show season again in January, I am still working on some other ideas, but if any of you have a great show you feel we should attend please let me know.

Right now these are the shows I know we will attend, as always if you have any questions please let us know.

  • ISE Sportsman's Expo at Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA.  On January 19-22.  Booth 2108 Building C, this is a 4 day show.
  • GPAA Gold Show in Pleasanton, CA.  Alameda County Fairgrounds on February 11th & 12th.
  • Fred Hall Shows Inc., in Long Beach, CA.  Long Beach Convention Center, March 1-5, this is a 5 day show.
  • GPAA Gold Show in Puyallup, Washington.  Washington State Fair Events Center on March 18th & 19th.
  • Mariposa Gem & Mineral Club, Mariposa CA.  California State Mining & Mineral Museum, April 8th & 9th.
  • GPAA Gold Show in Las Vegas, NV.  South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa on April 22nd & 23rd.

As I said I am still looking into other shows and the guys would be willing to come to one of your club meetings to talk about Roaring Camp if any of you are interested.  Call me and we can talk about any ideas you might have.

On a personal note, we are all doing well, we have all had a little time off, Mike went to Canada with his family, he took Martha & Sofia for their first trip there.  Rick and I along with our kids and Grandkids spent a few weeks in Mexico soaking up the sun and sand, we have a couple of other short trips planned before we open again on April 30th.  Tammy, Peter and Patrick just took a few days off and are still trying to decide what they would like to do for a vacation, they will take a week at Christmas for now.

I would love to add some pictures to our web-site so if you have anything you would like to share with the world please e-mail them to me so I can forward them to my webmaster.

In closing, unfortunately, I have no choice but to raise the rates, it has be about 10 years since we raised the cabin and tent site rates, we have a lot of old equipment in camp that needs repair and if we want to continue to make your experience in camp the best possible I will have to do some repair work.  We did spend quite a bit of money on the excavator this last summer and it is up and running but still needs work.  For those of you who already have a reservation for 2017 nothing will change, if fact I will give all the rest of you until March 1st to make your reservation for 2017 at the old rate.  After that I will only raise cabin and tent sites weekly rate $25.00 per week, that's less than $4.00 per day.  Please do not wait if you are planning to come and visit us this year, look at your schedules and book with us as soon as possible.

We really look forward to seeing all of you in 2017, all of you make our job the best in the world and we look forward to seeing you all again soon!
Roaring Camp Mining Company
P.O. BOX 278, Pine Grove, CA 95665

Monday, December 12, 2016

ATCAA can help with your New Cal EITC

YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE to receive the New Cal EITC as well as the Fed EITC on your Tax return or both, but you must file your taxes to claim it. Let us help you file for free at Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency.  It’s FREE and it’s your money, so get it! 209-223-1485

4-On-4 Volleyball League begins Feb 26

4 on 4 Volleyball League

WHAT: 6 Week Volleyball League, 2 matches every Sunday
WHEN: Sunday Afternoons, Starting February 26th, 1:00pm
WHERE: Argonaut High School
PRICE:  $185 per team
For more information, please contact ACRA by Phone (209-223-6349), Email (, or Facebook (

Walk-A-Thon at Lake Tabeaud - Sat Mar 25

WHAT: 2.6 mile walk around the lake
WHEN: Saturday, March 25th, 10:00am-1:00pm
WHERE: Lake Tabeaud, Tabeaud Rd 5 miles south of Hwy 88
PRICE: FREE for Be Active Members, $10 for Non-Members

For more information, please contact ACRA by Phone (209-223-6349), Email (, or Facebook (

Valentine’s Dance - Sun Feb 12

WHAT: A dance at The Hub
WHEN: Sunday, February 12th, 5:00pm-8:00pm
WHERE: The HUB (206B Main St. in Jackson, above Hein & Co Bookstore)
PRICE: FREE for Be Active Members, $10 for Non-Members
For more information on the Bowl-A-Rama, please contact ACRA by Phone (209-223-6349), Email (, or Facebook (

Bowl-A-Rama - Sat Jan 21

WHAT: Bowling
WHEN: Saturday, January 21st, 10:00am-12:00pm
WHERE: Gold Country Lanes, 81 Ridge Rd, Sutter Creek
PRICE: FREE for Be Active Members, $10 for Non-Members
For more information, please contact ACRA by Phone (209-223-6349), Email (, or Facebook (

Friday, May 20, 2016

Raft the Mokelumne on with world-renowned outfitter O.A.R.S. - Sun June 19

The public will have a rare opportunity to raft the Mokelumne River on Sunday, June 19th.  Make this an extra-special Father’s Day and bring the entire family to enjoy the fun and beauty of the Electra Run. Three raft trips will be led by professional raft guides from O.A.R.S., recognized as one of the finest rafting outfitters in the world. Proceeds from the trips will benefit the Foothill Conservancy and support its work to protect and restore the Mokelumne River and watershed.

This year’s trips provide the unique opportunity to see how a portion of the Mokelumne River Canyon has regenerated following last fall’s devastating Butte Fire. The six-mile Electra to Middle Bar run provides quiet float times for wildlife viewing and fun splashing rides through Class I-III rapids, including the Chute, S-Turn and Devil’s Toilet Bowl.

No prior rafting experience is required. The trips are suitable for all ages from 6 to 80. Rafters under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Trip times are 8:00 a.m., noon and 4:00 p.m. (participants must check-in 30 minutes prior to their trip time). Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Tickets are $75 per person and are available online through Foothill Conservancy’s website,

Foothill Conservancy of Jackson is the leading conservation group involved in the protection and restoration of the upper Mokelumne River. The organization is actively pursuing river conservation, wise water planning and watershed restoration efforts in our area.

For more on O.A.R.S., visit For more on Foothill Conservancy’s efforts to protect and restore the Mokelumne, photos of the river, and a video of the raft trip, visit

For more information on the trips, contact Carolyn Schooley at 209-223-3508 or e-mail

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cal Fire Prepares for Fire Season

By Sarah Spinetta

Due to a large amount of rainfall as compared to the previous few years, there is a large amount of overgrown grasses, weeds and other vegetation in Amador County. Because of this, Cal Fire has been taking extra measures and tirelessly training their firefighters and pilots in preparation for the impending fire season.

Cal Fire pilots have been practicing with seven helicopters, including two large Chinook and Black Hawk choppers which can transport up to 20 firefighters each.

The Cal Fire practice area is located 1 mile west of Westover Field (JAQ). Because of the wide open space, the area is a perfect place for firefighters and pilots to practice and get ready for the fire season.

Because there is more vegetation this year, there is going to be a higher risk of fire in the summer months. It is time to start thinking about creating a 100 foot barrier around your homes and buildings. Always remember to completely extinguish any flame and be extremely careful with fire in the upcoming months.

For more information about fire safety, visit:

Video by Dave Gebauer
Photos by Bill Lavallie

Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Spinetta. Published by permission of the author.

“More Than Just Pets”: Local Veterinarian Provides 24-hour Emergency Services, Search and Rescue, and Service Dogs for Children with Autism

By Sarah Spinetta

There are many animal lovers in the world, and among them are those who dedicate their lives to taking great care of them. Alison Pillsbury of Acorn Hills Animal Center is one of those people who goes above and beyond to help animals in need.

Pillsbury has been a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) since 1988 and works very hard to take care of the animals in Amador County. “I have always loved animals, and wanted to have a hands-on job where I get to take care of them. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and be able to help out every animal I could. At Acorn Hills, I work in small animal practices and I do whatever I can to help the animals because I want to give back to them,” Pillsbury said. “I opened Foothill and was there for 13 years before coming to Acorn Hills.”

Pillsbury wanted to provide a 24-hour emergency clinic to Amador County, so she decided to open up the animal center. “I wanted to open an emergency animal practice, and I was the first one to provide Amador County with a full service animal center and emergency clinic. I hope to be able to serve the county with emergency services. It is calming for people to know that there is always someone there who can help their animals. Also, the Jackson Rancheria is very supportive of Acorn Hills. They gave me the perfect building to start my practice.”

At the animal center, Pillsbury does house calls, checkups, urgent care and full-day practice. She is on call 24 hours a day for emergencies, and is devoted to taking care of animals. She has also worked with all kinds of animals, from sea lions to frogs to cats. She currently has four dogs, four cats, birds, frogs and fish.“If there is any animal that needs help, I will help them. I do whatever it takes for the animals to be okay, including either staying the night at Acorn Hills’ office with the animal. In the more serious cases, I will gladly take the animal home to stay with me and my dogs to care for them and check on them all night.”

Kaylee Stockton, Allison Pillsbury,  Katy Taylor, Laurie Fishback,

Kenna Edmonson, Andrea Hoover
In addition to being a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Pillsbury continues to expand her knowledge in order to work with animals in unconventional ways, in order to save or better peoples’ lives. She and her dog are certified in Search and Rescue. Her labrador, Mia, has also been trained and certified to be a California Rescue Dog (CARD) and cadaver dog.

With the help of Pillsbury and the training she received, Mia was able to make a life find...she found and saved the life of a missing woman within 24 hours. Pillsbury has been going with Mia on Search and Rescue missions for eight years. “It takes a lot of dedicated hands-on work for three years to train dogs for Search and Rescue because every dog is different, and they all need to be trained a little differently to learn how to focus,” Pillsbury said. “When Mia is searching an area where the person was last seen, she is very focused and is our first line of defense.”

There are different types of Search and Rescue dogs: Line dogs, who are on a long leash, and area dogs, which are untethered and search all over a designated area. Mia is an urban-certified line dog, which means that she can search around houses or in the city for traces of a scent trail.

“I am currently also training another one of my four dogs to be a Search and Rescue dog,” Pillsbury said. “It is hard work and takes a lot of patience, but it is so rewarding. When dogs are first trained for Search and Rescue and they are taught to go searching for treats and toys in all types of weather and terrains, and then they start picking up really fast and graduate to picking up the scent of people or searching for objects that have a missing person’s scent on them. Their memories are incredible and they are able to help save people.”

Pillsbury is one of several veterinarians at Acorn Hills who have rescue dogs of their own, and they work with the dogs all over the state of California for missing people. She also works with the Humane Society of the United States, was part of the people who provided disaster services in Hurricane Katrina, and continues to travel around to multiple countries.

Another way that Pillsbury is trying to improve the lives of people is by training service dogs to help children who have autism. “Having the dogs work with the kids as companions really helps them because they form a strong bond and connection with each other,” Pillsbury said. “It is a great way to help the children; they seem to understand and communicate with each other in an unspoken language.” One of her future dreams is to have more shelter dogs be trained as companion dogs for the children. “I would love to incorporate animals with helping others, because they are truly so loving and caring,” Pillsbury said.

“I know what it is like to be worried about your pets, because they are more than just pets. They are so loving and give so much to us, asking so little in return. This is why the whole goal of Acorn Hills Animal Center is to provide emergency pet practice to Amador County.”

Alison Pillsbury is always on call and you can reach her at 209-267-5554. Acorn Hills Animal Center is located at 80 Ridge Road, Suite C, Sutter Creek and you can call them at 209-267-5554 for emergencies or regular checkups.

Copyright © 2016 Sarah Spinetta. Published by permission of the author.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Groundbreaking Aerodynamic Technology at Catto Propellers

By Sarah Spinetta

You know how there's all this cool new technology now? Well,Craig Catto is one of those contributors. He develops new ideas to improve aeronautics and then makes them a reality by hand-making them in his airplane hangar, right here in Amador County.

Catto's main focuses are on propellers and experimental aircraft such as drones. His drones fly 25% higher and 15% longer than ones from other countries. Despite the drones, Catto creates hundreds of beautiful propellers a year, currently making new dynamic propellers for all types of planes. Since he ships internationally, his propellers are ordered worldwide.

How does he make these propellers? The process starts with creating a wooden template, which is typically made out of maple wood. After getting the basic shape of the propellers, they turn it over to one of their two CNC machines. "A dozen of us were working one day and our machine broke. I decided to buy a backup one after that so we wouldn't have to stop working until the other one got fixed,” Catto said.

The machines are programmed to cut the wood with perfect precision to ensure they are balanced. After that, the propellers are covered in layers of carbon fiber and a glass composite to keep them durable and strong. However, even after being carved by the CNC machine, the propellers go through multiple tests to ensure that the blades are all perfectly balanced. After that, optional nickel leading edges are applied for a completely weatherproof propeller.

Catto is recognized all over the world for the development of these incredible pieces of machinery. In fact, he is one of the largest sellers in the United States by volume. He also supplies the U.S. with the largest market for LSA'S (light sport aircraft), and has worked with various companies all over the world, even NASA. He designed a solar-powered aircraft that flew by remote control. We’re not talking about model airplanes here, because this one had eight motors on it. Those motors, combined with Catto's incredible talent, enabled the aircraft to fly 82,000 feet high, which is more than double the height of a commercial airplane's height. Today, that plane he created is in the Smithsonian.

In addition to these incredible feats, Catto designed rigid-wing hang gliders and was the first person on the West coast to design a model that was motorized, and has broken over eight world records with his propellers.

Catto has had a passion for flying ever since he was little, so he naturally wanted to pursue a career in that field. It all started when he turned 15 and started hang gliding. So before he even had his driver's license, Catto was flying freely in the sky on hang gliders. When he was a sophomore in high school, he started taking college classes starting in engineering and then focusing on aerodynamics. In 1980, 20-year-old, he decided to move from San Jose to Amador County, and found an airplane hangar for $500 a month at the local airport, Westover Field. He then proceeded to build himself a loft in that hangar and then lived in it for six months. In 2009, he worked built and designed his propellers out of his house with the help of one other person. That's when Catto decided to expand his business, so he moved into Hangar 156.

He is still in that hangar today, now with four companies, and is inventing and developing new technology.

For more information, call Craig Catto at 209-559-5972 or visit his website at

Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Spinetta. Published with permission by the author.

Friday, March 18, 2016

44th Annual AAUW Home Tour delivers wine country charm, tours of unique foothill homes and historical sites in Amador City

AAUW Amador County’s 44th annual Home Tour, in the captivating town of Amador City, delivers wine country charm, tours of unique foothill homes and Gold Country historical sites.

Join us on Saturday, April 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an intimate view of California’s smallest, incorporated city and its Gold Rush era buildings. The homes on the tour are, in turn, historic and modern.

One of the homes is a converted church and renovated 1920’s home, which have been converted to a breathtaking, live-in art studio and, includes a kitchen which incorporates the original altar and confessional as kitchen island and pantry. The church bell, transported from Ireland around Cape Horn, still rings.

The Amador house is a delightful example of village living in a cozy, but luxuriously updated, country Victorian. A traditional Victorian, built in the 21st century, is furnished with beautiful artifacts from around the world.

To complete the tour of homes; a newly remodeled Victorian, dotted with the owners’ collected treasures, includes a fond childhood memory; an old-fashioned sleeping porch.

The Amador City historical sites include, the Fire House Museum, The Imperial Hotel, Amador Whitney Museum and, the Amador City Cemetery.

Advance tickets are on sale at local outlets beginning March 14 for $22 or purchase on Tour day or online for $25 on Tour Day.

Go to  to view all purchase options.

Sage-Laughlin Studio

Kel-Artinian Home

More photos on web site at:

Monday, February 29, 2016

Daffodil Hill Opens March 2

Daffodil Hill will open its gates for our 76th season on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, weather permitting.  The hill will remain open (again, weather permitting) until fewer than 25% of our daffodil blooms remain.

Our hours of operation are 10 am to 4 pm, seven days a week.  For safety reasons, we must close the Hill when it rains or snows and our dirt paths are slippery.  Daffodil Hill does not have a website, so visitors are encouraged to call our recorded phone message at (209) 296-7048 or check our Facebook page for updates on conditions at Daffodil Hill.  In addition, our friends at the Amador County Chamber of Commerce are happy to answer your questions about the Hill at (209) 223-0350.

There is no admission fee for Daffodil Hill and no charge for parking.  Picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, for the use of our visitors.  Food is also available for purchase.  Donations are accepted to help defray the cost of the thousands of new bulbs we plant each year.  We also offer a few items for sale.

  • Just a few friendly reminders for our visitors this year:
  • Please respect our property as you would your own.
  • Please stay on paths and out of the flowers, buildings and posted areas.
  • No dogs or other pets are allowed on the Hill, although they are allowed in our parking lot.
  •  Please wear appropriate footwear.  Our paths are primarily dirt and gravel, which can make footing an issue for some visitors.
We strongly encourage visitors to come during the week to avoid the large crowds we have on the weekends.
Motorcyclists should be aware our parking lot is dirt and gravel with some relatively steep grades.  Please be careful when navigating through our parking lot.

We look forward to your visit and hope you enjoy this year’s bloom.
Daffodil Hill is located at 18310 Rams Horn Grade, Volcano, CA 95689.

Daffodil Hill Driving Directions
Daffodil Hill can be reached from Sutter Creek and the trip is about twelve miles. Sutter Creek is located on Old Highway 49 in Amador County, accessible from Sacramento via Highway 16 (Jackson Road) or from Stockton via Highway 99 (Highway 88 turnoff)
From Main Street Sutter Creek (Old Highway 49), turn East on Gopher Flat Road.  Drive approximately 3 miles, and turn left at the third stop sign, which is Shake Ridge Road.  Drive about 9 miles on Shake Ridge Road to Rams Horn Grade.  Parking is to the left.  You have arrived!

Daffodil Hill is a ranch owned by the McLaughlin family since 1887, and is located at 18310 Rams Horn Grade, Volcano, CA 95689.  In the early days of the Gold Rush, Daffodil Hill was a regular stopping place for teamsters hauling timber from the Sierras down to the Kennedy and Argonaut Mines, and for eastbound travelers heading for the Comstock Lode on the Amador-Nevada Wagon Road (Highway 88).
In 1877, after coming west from New York and Ohio, Arthur McLaughlin and his wife, “Lizzie” van Vorst-McLaughlin purchased the ranch from Dutchman Pete Denzer, who planted a few daffodils around his residence in remembrance of his home country of Holland.  Arthur and Lizzie continued to plant additional daffodils to beautify the ranch.
Daffodil Hill is situated in a beautiful mountain setting at the 3,000 foot elevation in Amador County.  With pine trees, the original 1880’s barn, wagon wheels, gold rush era mining equipment and antique farming implements, it appeals to anyone with a love of nature and history.  Flowers are everywhere and peacocks, chickens, pigeons, and the donkeys, Belle, Rosie, and Sunshine , are also there for everyone to enjoy.

Over a Century of Nurturing
Today, much of the landscape around the old homestead is covered with several varieties of daffodils.  The McLaughlin’s descendants, the Ryan Family, and their families and friends have continued to plant several thousand bulbs a year.  It is estimated that today, Daffodil Hill is carpeted with approximately 300,000 bulbs when in full bloom.

Season and Hours of Operation
Daffodil Hill is open only in the spring, usually from mid-March through the first weeks of April.  After that it goes back to a private ranch and is not open for visitors.  Mother Nature determines the length of the blooming season each year.  Daffodil Hill is not open during or immediately after inclement weather.  Visitors are advised to call Daffodil Hill (209) 296-7048, or check the Facebook page, before they visit to make sure it is open that day.  Daffodil Hill is open seven days a week during the season from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, weather permitting.  Admission and parking are free, although donations are gratefully accepted.  McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill is a family operated and funded operation and any donations help fund new bulbs for the following year.

Special Requests

The family requests all visitors stay on the paths at all times and do not enter the planting areas or pick the blooms.  In an effort to preserve the tranquility of Daffodil Hill, no pets are allowed on the main grounds.