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Robert Shoemaker Memorial Plaque Dedication

June 3, 2017, 4 p.m.

North Star Museum and Pelton Wheel Exhibit


The Sierrans for Responsible Resource Development (Sierrans) is pleased to dedicate a Memorial Plaque to honor Robert S. “Bob” Shoemaker for his world-renowned contributions to mining industry, as well as his role in preserving the mining history and culture in Grass Valley and Nevada County.    Through organizations like the North Star Museum and Pelton Wheel Exhibit (North Star Museum), the Nevada County Historical Society, and the Sierrans, Bob played a major role in educating residents and visitors from around the world about the local mining industry, its history, and its culture – the reason Grass Valley became known as the “City with the Heart of Gold”.


Bob is likely best known locally for his activities at the North Star Museum in Grass Valley, managed by the Nevada County Historical Society.  He started there as a docent, eventually succeeding Glenn Jones as Director of the Museum. When the City of Grass Valley could no longer fund a position to run the museum, Bob personally recruited over a dozen talented, highly skilled, and hardworking volunteers to keep the museum open. Under Bob’s guidance and direction, these volunteers not only staffed the museum, welcoming thousands of visitors each year, but also restored and continue to maintain several pieces of historic mining equipment such as the Pelton Wheel and Cornish Pump. Because of his background and experience, Bob was able to identify and explain the function and purpose of some equipment that no one else could.  In 2013, Bob was named “Citizen of the Year” and Director Emeritus of the Museum by the Nevada County Historical Society “in recognition of his years of service in the preservation and interpretation of Nevada County history and particularly the role of gold mining therein.”


What many people don’t know locally in Grass Valley is that Bob was an international expert in the field of metallurgy and was a major contributor to the development of heap leach mining technology, technology to process refractory ores, and technology using carbon adsorption systems for metal recovery from cyanide solutions.  These processes, developed in the 1970s through the 1990s, are used throughout the mining industry on a worldwide basis today.  As an engineer, Bob was involved in the design of over 80 heap leach and 40 milling operations around the world.  In 2015, Bob enabled the Society of Mining, Metallurgical, and Exploration (SME) to promote education in the mining, mineral processing, and metallurgical sciences by donating $1M for that purpose thereby contributing to future generations of engineers to follow in his footsteps. In 2016, recognizing his contribution to the mining industry, he was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame located in Leadville, Colorado.


The plaque is made possible by the generous donations of the Sierrans for Responsible Resource Development, Society and Mining Metallurgy, and Exploration, and individual donations by John and Dana Marsden, Jim and Laurie Arnold, and Bob and Arlene Wilder.  The Sierrans recognize the assistance of the City of Grass Valley, Nevada County Historical Society, and North Star Museum docents in this project. 

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