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In Memoriam ~ Willard (Bill) Fuller Jr. State of California Registered Geologist #77

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Excerpt from November 2011 UGMM Newsletter


A valuable member of the Alleghany and California mining community passed on in December of 2009.


Bill Fuller worked at the Sixteen to One Mine between 1951 and 1953 and served on the mine’s Board of Directors from 1987 to 1992. From 1953 to 1954 he worked at other mines in the Alleghany District including the Oriental Mine.


The work for his Master’s Thesis was completed at the Sixteen to One Mine prior to World War II. He attended Harvard College receiving a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in Geology in 1940. In 1942, he received his M.S.C. in Economic Geology from the California Institute of Technology.


Bill was an avid historian and was active in the Sierra County Historical Society for many years as well as the Calaveras County and the National Historical Societies.


Bill was a student of Reno Sales/Anaconda School of Mapping. This was an invitation only school and Bill was one of Mr. Sales’ graduates. Bill’s many impeccable maps of the Sixteen to One Mine and the Oriental Mine are still in use today and will no doubt be referenced for years to come. This is part of the legacy that he leaves behind.


Bill loved Alleghany and spent many years compiling a history book about Alleghany. His book was very close to being completed when he passed on. The family has assured us it will be published. The book is full of priceless knowledge and wit that needs to be shared. To date, no comprehensive history of the Alleghany mining district has been published. Once the book is published, another part of Bill’s legacy will shine into the future.


Bill was very supportive of Underground Gold Miners Museum and assisted with historical information whenever asked without hesitation. Thank you Bill, nobody can take your place.



Mr. Fuller during his time as a director

of Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.


Lastly, a little trivia: Buckminster Fuller was Bill’s Uncle. He referred to him as “Uncle Bucky”.


The information below was recorded by Rae Bell Arbogast during conversations that she had with Don Dickey after Bill Fuller’s passing.


Don Dickey on Bill Fuller December 31, 2010


“He was stricken with Polio in the early 1950’s right before they came out with the salk vaccine. At that time he had been working at the Sixteen to One for I don’t know how many years, but he was there both before and after the war. [WWII] He was working with Cook who was doing his Doctorate Thesis at the Sixteen to one for Harvard. Bill was working on his Master’s Thesis at the same time for Cal Tech, also based on the Sixteen to One deposit. Bill was working with thin slides. So their work was different but they worked together. I’m not sure if that was before or after the war, when they worked together. [must have been before]


When his leg became paralyzed the insurance company for the Sixteen to One had an issue with him being employed there and he was laid-off. He loved Alleghany and wanted to stay, so he went around asking for work. When he approached me for work he explained that he couldn’t do stopes or ladders but that he could still map. My maps were a mess, so I hired him on a part-time basis. I believe a few other mines did the same. When Bill came to work for me I told Frank Knapp Sr. that I wanted him to help him. Miners in general were ambivalent towards professionals, be they mining engineers, geologists or what have you. They called them the “boot lace brigade”. So, Frank had a bit of an attitude when I first asked him to keep an eye on Bill, he didn’t want to play nursemaid to him.

So the first day that Bill shows up, Frank helps him into a mine car and they travel to the station. When they get to the station Frank isn’t sure how he’s going to get Bill in the skip, but Bill tells him to just leave him alone. He lays on the ground and rolls into the skip, but once he is in, he can’t reach the bell signal cord, so he apologizes to Frank and asks him if he can ride along and give the signals for him. So Frank rides up on the toggle and gets him to the level. Bill doesn’t need any help getting out of the skip, his arms are very strong and he sends Frank on his way.


Frank was impressed by Bill’s determination and later that day when I came into the mine Frank asked if it was ok that he wasn’t with Bill. I said “Yeah, if he doesn’t need you that’s fine” and as Frank turned to walk away I heard him say: “He’s a much better man than I am”. After that first day, it was apparent that Frank had deep respect for Bill and there was never any issue again.


Bill had made notches on his cane to mark off inches and feet and he would lay the tape on the ground as he went along with his brunton and he’d use his cane to measure his offsets. His mapping was impeccable, and that’s how he did it.


Unfortunately there wasn’t enough work in Alleghany without the Sixteen to One to keep Bill going, so after about a year or so Maxfield [Original Sixteen to One Mine President] got him a job with Calaveras Cement. That’s where he worked until he retired, but he and I remained friends for the rest of his life. I would often call him and consult with him.


1/5/11


Bill didn’t actually attend the Anaconda School of mapping where the Reno Sales method was taught; a graduate of the Anaconda School taught him the method. His teacher was Graydon Beechel. Beechel was the last geologist at the Idaho Maryland mine before they closed and he was my geologist after Bill left. Beechel drew a lot of attention to the Anaconda method of mapping when he discovered the lost half of an extended ore body at the Mountain Copper mine in Nevada.



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