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The Motherlode, also known as Project Motherlode, is a series of high-tech mining robots developed by Hornwright Industrial before the Great War.


A pet project of CEO Daniel Hornwright, the Motherlode is an autonomous mining platform designed to boost the efficiency of the company's mining projects by drilling and retrieving underground resources without human assistance, all part of Hornwright's automation efforts.[1] Dr. Jose Brigada created the first designs for the project,[2] and after some development, Daniel pitched a number of figures and formulas to his daughter Penny. However, he remained secretive, causing much frustration from Penny.[1]

Ms. Jackson, a young transfer from Atomic Mining Services, became involved in the secretive project, though she was greeted with skepticism from Dr. Brigada. However, in under a month, Ms. Jackson completed three of the outstanding research quandaries on the Motherlode project, including intra-mineral communication, subcrustal navigation, and an automated voice response system. She also created an in-field repair system, which was capable of connecting to a system without work interruption, shocking Dr. Brigada.[2]

After the death of his wife Evelyn, Daniel took a more involved role in the Motherlode's creation, swearing to finish it for her.[3] Dr. Brigada became uncomfortable with Daniel's increased control over the project and theorized that Daniel was becoming mentally unwell, given his obsession with the project. He believed that Daniel was looking for a distraction to avoid dealing with the loss of his wife, and in the process, was distracting everyone working on the project.[4][5] Daniel's input consisted of inconsequential and incessant demands to make the robot more "user-friendly" and "independent," while forcing the involved scientists and engineers to confirm any changes with him. Ms. Jackson became overworked and Dr. Brigada began to sympathize with her.[6] Brigada was eventually fired for his defiance, but not before he left a warning to Ms. Jackson, urging her to get out while she still could.[4]

With the project's development becoming more complicated, the Motherlode gained notoriety, and rumors swirled in the public about the project's nature. It hogged financial resources,[1] causing delays on other projects such as their air purifier sites in the Ash Heap. Multiple testing sites for the Motherlode were established in southern West Virginia, some of which are still active as of 2102, and use of the Motherlode resulted in an increase in seismic events in the area. The official company policy was to say that they knew nothing about the Motherlode, a line that Penny Hornwright felt was uncomfortably close to the truth.[7] Bill Breyer, an investigative reporter for the Charleston Herald, went to one of the testing sites to find answers for the public's questions and encountered armed guards. A security officer on Hornwright's payroll saw the holotape recorder in Breyer's hand, thought it was a weapon and shot him, but not before he saw the robot in action.[8] Daniel fired a PR employee, who suggested that they should be candid about what happened, and covered up the murder as an "accident." In the end, Daniel was actually glad that Breyer died, as it would deter any other investigators from trying to hop fences and get a closer look at the Motherlode.[9]

As protests over automation grew in Charleston, the Motherlode project continued to rapidly gain speed. Its systems were performing at peak capacity, and Daniel projected that he could soon reduce its operating staff to less than twenty. Human miners would no longer be required, as the Motherlode could retrieve minerals in record time,[10] using different locations, including the Ash Heap testing sites as breach locations for the Motherlode to deliver the gathered minerals.[11]

After the Great War, the Motherlode robots fell into disrepair, with no one left to attend to it. The Vault Dwellers from Vault 76 can repair one of the Motherlodes through a beacon launch. Afterward, the Motherlode will respond with "Motherlode remember..." before retreating underground.


  • System 000 - Unknown.
  • System 001 - Unknown as of 2103.[12][13]
  • System 002 - Unknown.
  • System 003 - Deployed as of 2102[14][15]

The Deep tunnels

The communists located in The Deep intercepted one of the Hornwright robots and have been using it to drill multiple tunnels beneath Appalachia. While their exact mission is uncertain, the information provided by the security terminal suggests they were working on a project to connect different areas of Appalachia to the Deep via these underground tunnels. So far, four tunnels had been excavated, with a fifth still in progress.[16]

After Invisible Ties, players will be able to get transported by the Motherlode located in the communist facility to different parts of Appalachia.[16] Note that the Motherlode will also appear at the tunnel exits, when they are approached by the player, allowing transport into the Deep and thus the other locations.



The Motherlode appears in Fallout 76, also appearing in the Wastelanders update.