This is the 3rd of 6 articles on Nevada City’s Secret Mineshafts and Tunnels.

Nevada City, CA — The revelation of Nevada City’s secret mineshafts, as The Broad Street Beacon uncovered, has sent shockwaves through this quaint town, transforming its cobbled streets into a veritable hunting ground for secrets buried deep beneath. From gung-ho tourists to earnest conspiracy theorists, the city has seen an influx of outsiders, each armed with a mix of earnest intrigue and wildly speculative theories, all thanks to a series of articles that have ignited the imaginations of many far beyond the Sierra Nevada foothills.

In an exclusive yet bewildering interview, Nevada City’s Mayor – a flamboyant figure with a penchant for historical reenactments – claimed her tenure was the result of time travel, a mission to safeguard the city from the “twin scourges of chemtrails and Grass Valley’s fast-food imperialism.” Her earnest demeanor, slightly undercut by his period-accurate tricorn hat, left us more amused than convinced.

The mayor’s time traveler’s campaign, rich with promises to tackle problems we haven’t yet faced and to correct mistakes that have not been made, has left many residents scratching their heads.

Enter Loretta Splitair, the Beacon journalist whose reputation for sarcasm and a no-nonsense attitude precedes her. Known for her sharp wit and cynical writing style that marries Anthony Bourdain’s with Hunter S. Thompson, Splitair navigated the depths of Nevada City’s history aboard her 1972 powder blue Ford Pinto. Her mission? To peel back the layers of myth surrounding the secretive Keepers and their guarded tunnels.

Guided by Wilfred “Will” Calendarship, a Keeper whose self-importance is as vast as the tunnels he claims to protect, Splitair embarked on a “tour” of the underground network. Calendarship, with a flair for the dramatic, insisted on blindfolding Splitair for the journey to the entrance, located suspiciously close to a popular saloon that shared its name with the very mines they were about to explore.

What awaited them was a world far removed from the legendary catacombs the articles had hinted at.

Loretta Splitair, Reporting From Underneath Nevada City

“I was promised Aladdin’s cave,” Splitair quipped, “and got Aladdin’s broom closet.” Calendarship’s attempts to embellish the mundane – from a “mystical” puddle he dubbed the “Mermaid’s Tears” to a rusted can he solemnly declared a relic of the Gold Rush – were met with Splitair’s increasingly exasperated eye-rolls.

Loretta Splitair

As Loretta Splitair delved deeper into the so-called labyrinth beneath Nevada City, her initial amusement soured to a blend of cynicism and incredulity. Guided by the ever-enthusiastic Wilfred “Will” Calendarship, whose sense of historical significance seemed inversely proportional to the actual intrigue of their surroundings, Splitair found herself navigating a world less reminiscent of historical marvel and more akin to a neglected basement.

“Behold,” exclaimed Calendarship, gesturing towards a damp wall streaked with mineral deposits, “the ancient petroglyphs of the Sierra miners.” Splitair, squinting in the dim light, could only see what looked suspiciously like water damage. “Fascinating,” she deadpanned, “the lost art of mold.”

They turned a corner, entering a chamber that Calendarship proudly declared “The Grand Hall of Echoes.” Splitair’s hopes of cavernous grandeur were dashed against the reality of a cramped space, where the only echo was the sound of their own footsteps bouncing off close walls. “Ah, yes, the grandiosity is deafening,” she muttered, her voice dripping with sarcasm, as Calendarship nodded, blissfully unaware of the irony.

As they trudged through narrow passages, Calendarship pointed out a series of small holes in the wall, which he insisted were ancient air vents designed by the original miners for ventilation. Splitair eyed the rodent-sized openings. “Or, you know, mole people doorways,” she suggested, her tone suggesting she found the latter more plausible than any historical explanation Calendarship could offer.

The pièce de résistance of the tour was what Calendarship called “The Vein of the Mountain’s Heart,” a thin, quartz-streaked crack in the rock he claimed was once teeming with gold. “On moonlit nights, you can still hear the miners’ pickaxes, chipping away in the eternal quest for fortune,” he whispered reverently. Splitair peered at the unremarkable fissure. “Or perhaps it’s the sound of the town’s collective common sense, trying to escape.”

As the tour concluded, Splitair’s reflections on the tunnels under Nevada City were far from the awe-struck musings Calendarship might have hoped for.

“If these walls could talk,” she mused, “they’d likely apologize for the utter lack of excitement.” The promised Aladdin’s cave had turned out to be less a treasure trove of historical wonders and more a monument to the mundane, its guardians more Don Quixote than Indiana Jones.

Yet, despite the disillusionment, or perhaps because of it, Splitair couldn’t help but find a certain charm in the absurdity of it all. With its layers of history, both real and imagined, Nevada City had a way of turning even the most cynical observer into a reluctant admirer.

“Perhaps,” she conceded, “the real treasure wasn’t the gold or the ghostly echoes of miners long gone but the stories we tell to keep the past alive. Even if those stories are about mole people and mystical puddles.”

The Keepers Aren’t Good at Keeping, Or Are They?

The Keepers, it seems, have long been the town’s pranksters, their existence peppered with attempts to draw attention to the tunnels through elaborate schemes and cryptic messages. Their participation in local parades, dressed as a motley crew of hippies and miners, was meant to be a clue, yet one that hilariously went unnoticed by the townsfolk.

The Keepers’ penchant for theatrics wasn’t limited to underground tours. Splitair learned of an incident in 1996, a stunt that had become legend: the Keeper men, in a bold move to satirize the Clampers, had dressed as widowed miner wives for the Fourth of July parade. Their garb, complete with overdone mourning veils and ostentatious black gowns, was meant to poke fun at their rivals’ solemnity.

“They sashayed down Broad Street like a procession of Victorian ghosts on a vengeance trail,” Splitair recounted, unable to decide if the act was a stroke of genius or a cry for attention. “The Clampers didn’t know whether to laugh or lodge a formal complaint. Most settled for a confused chuckle, the universal language of ‘I don’t get it, but okay.'”

This episode was emblematic of the Keepers’ approach to their self-assigned roles. Their actions, meant to draw eyes and whispers toward the tunnels’ existence, often ended in a mixture of bemusement and indifference from the townsfolk. It seemed the Keepers were less guardians of Nevada City’s subterranean secrets and more custodians of its collective amusement—a fact that, despite herself, Splitair found endearingly absurd.

“The Keepers aren’t good at keeping, or are they?” Splitair mused, her cynicism softened by the realization that perhaps their true purpose was not to guard the tunnels but to keep the spirit of Nevada City alive through their antics. “Maybe the real gold isn’t buried beneath our feet, but we spin above ground in the stories.”

As they emerged from the tunnels, Splitair’s initial disappointment gave way to a begrudging respect for Calendarship and his fellow Keepers. In their own peculiar, often perplexing way, they had managed to weave a new thread into the rich tapestry of Nevada City’s history. And as for the tunnels themselves?

“They may not hold the treasures of Ali Baba,” she concluded, “but they’re a treasure trove of tales, each more embellished than the last. And in Nevada City, that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Stiff Competition?

Yet, beneath the humor lies a rivalry as old as the tunnels themselves.

A shadowy group, known only as “The Diggers,” has sought to usurp the Keepers’ role for decades. Their attempts – from staging a mock coup during the annual [pick one] parade to launching a “secret” advertising campaign that nobody understood – have become the stuff of local legend, their failures as much a part of the town’s identity as the Keepers’ successes.

Depending on one’s perspective, this ongoing tussle reached its zenith—or nadir—during a particularly memorable Nevada City Film Festival, where “The Diggers” attempted to premiere a documentary exposing the so-called “truth” behind the Keepers’ tunnels. The film, an incoherent mashup of conspiracy theories, poorly photoshopped images of ancient artifacts, and interviews with self-proclaimed experts speaking in dramatic whispers, was met with bewildered laughter rather than the intended shock and awe.

The Diggers’ earnestness in their quest, contrasted with their ineptitude in swaying public opinion, only served to endear them further to the community, much like the eccentric uncle who insists on performing magic tricks at family gatherings. Their place in the annals of Nevada City lore was thus cemented not as formidable rivals but as a beloved part of the tapestry that makes the town unique, adding another layer of charm to the enigmatic saga of the tunnels.


As Splitair’s journey beneath Nevada City came to a close, the tour revealed more about the Keepers’ penchant for theatrics than any genuine secrets the tunnels might hold. Yet, the experience was a testament to Nevada City’s enduring charm, where history and mystery dance in the shadows, and every whisper of the past invites a new story.

Looking ahead to part 4 of this 6-part series, The Broad Street Beacon is set to explore a peculiar chapter of Nevada City’s history: the 1950s trial that saw a Keeper accused of “undermining” the city – a pun-laden case that promises to uncover layers of intrigue and comedy buried as deep as the tunnels themselves. Stay tuned for a journey back in time, where the truth is stranger than fiction, and the past is never quite what it seems.