Recently in Tuolumne County, adventurer friends Max Wheeler and Donald wanson uncovered something unexpected, which might be par for the course when you spend your time searching for and exploring underground caves and mines. 

Uncovering 200-feet-deep mine shafts, a working ore cart and tracks, and a miner’s cabin made of scrap and salvaged sheet metal, the two had a pretty good day discovering the hidden secrets of a Tuolumne County hillside. In a video uploaded to Wheeler’s YouTube channel a day later, titled “HUGE Awesome Underground Discoveries totally unexpected,” Wheeler also revealed what he called a “mind-blowing” discovery—a fairly intact brick building deep beneath the town of Sonora, which Wheeler said is “bigger than imagined” and “goes way under the street.”


A still working ore cart sits on a track near the end of this cave in Tuolumne County.


Adventurers Max Wheeler and Donald Swanson explore caves and old mines together throughout Gold Country.


The underground expeditions often are difficult and dangerous, but worth it for the explorers when relics of the past are found.


Numerous natural and man-made cave systems can be found throughout Gold Country, making it the perfect home for adventurers like Swanson and Wheeler. 

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Swanson points to pickaxe marks on the wall of a Tuolumne County cave.


Marie-Elena studied creative writing, art, and photography at University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a BA in Studio Art -Visual Media. She moved to California from Nebraska in 2019 and is happy to call Calaveras County her home.

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