The Kennedy and most gold mines in California had to close in 1942 during World War II. Most, including the Kennedy, did not reopen after the war or ever again.Â Hence, the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company disincorporated in 1950 and sold its mine, real property, and plant to its last superintendent, Mark Eudey, and wife Frances. They, in 1955, deeded Wheels 1 & 2 and a half acre holding them to the County of Amador.Â Those wheels, however, were landlocked with no access.
In 1959 the Eudeys sold to Jackson residents Harry and Edna Wiechman, and Morton and Helen Sullivan, all remaining Kennedy property and plant easterly of Jackson Gate Road, including the old Bright addition reaching to North Main on the west, and the Zeile Mine property south to Clinton Road.Â In '61, the couple sold to the county 3.344 acres east of Jackson Gate Road, giving it ownership of all four wheels.Â Before the next transaction, Wheel 3 fell in 1963 and Wheel 2 in 1970.
Sybil Arata, then owner of the Kennedy Mine property westerly of Jackson Gate Road, in 1971 deeded the county a 10-foot right of way from the Jackson Gate Road to the parcel holding Wheels 1 & 2, providing access.Â That same August, the county in turn deeded all wheels - two standing and two fallen - to the City of Jackson with about 3.8 acres.Â On May 25, 1973, Congressman Norman Shumway spoke at the dedication of the city's new Jackson Tailing Wheels Park.
Once it acquired all wheels, the city drew plans for developing the new park, including parking, an informational kiosk and a facility building. Contractor Ted Molfino completed the project in 1977. That same year, the city added to the park's property when it acquired 4.43 acres near Wheels 3 and 4, and 14.12 acres east of Wheel 4 including the old tailings pond and the massive dam on Indian Gulch. Seller was the Wheels Development Corporation, successors to Wiechmans and Sullivans.
In December, 1980 Clyde Berriman, dean of Amador historians, completed the application to place the park on the National Register.Â It gained the honor on July 7, 1981.Â That achievement was celebrated with a ceremony at nearby Teresa's Restaurant on October 24 of that year.
Major work to preserve the two standing wheels occurred in 1971-73 with about $50,000 from the state Bond Act of 1964 and local money.Â In 2001 $150,000 of Transportation Enhancement Act funds paid for major work on Wheel 4. What you will see now - signage, redesigned kiosk, mural, and, especially the enclosed Wheel 4 - was financed by another TEA grant of over a half million dollars.
The State of California, Amador County and the City of Jackson all have made major investments to preserve two of four Kennedy Tailing Wheels, the most significant relics of the state's golden age of quartz mining.Â They are unique; they are iconic.Â Now, they should survive for generations to come.
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