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Poking Around Mammoth’s Mines

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Mammoth Lakes is well known for its numerous outdoor adventure options. But before Mammoth became a world class destination for recreation, it was a mining town. First founded in 1887, Mammoth became the hub for a number of mining claims of the Lakes District. Only after the Gold Rush waned in the early 1900’s, did adventuring tourists start to redefine Mammoth.

One of my favorite adventures growing up here as a kid was to explore the many mining sites around the area.  It is remarkable how many mining operations are within just a few miles from center of town. A short walk, or moderate hike is all it takes to transport back in time 100+ years. Much like the well known California ghost town Bodie, you can still find well preserved remains right here in Mammoth.

“Mineral Hill” has eight such abandoned sites. This big red mountain defines Lake Mary’s eastern shore. Some remains are visible from the road to the Lakes Basin, while others will take a little more effort to discover. Fortunately, one of the best preserved sites is also just a short stroll from the end of the Coldwater campground loop at the east end of the Lake Mary. (AKA Duck Pass trail head). Here at the Consolidated Mining Camp, you’ll find cabins, crushing machines, ore cars, water wheels, tracks for the ore cars and mine shafts…   Most mine shafts are boarded up, or barred up to prevent access. Signs posted at some shaft entrances warn of collapse and poisonous gas.  All the more intriguing if you ask me.

Mill City is also easily accessed, but its remains are pretty decimated these days.  The real adventure is tracking down the lesser known sites, and finding their remains…  Here’s some names to get you started:

  • Beauregard Mine
  • Coldwater prospect
  • Emerald Lake
  • Faulk Mine
  • Lisbon Mine (Little Bodie Mine)
  • Monte Cristo Mine

There are a number of fascinating books on the mining days of Mammoth. You can find them at the Mammoth Visitor Center, the shops around town, and Amazon.  One book I found to be a great read is,  Mammoth Gold: The Ghost Towns of Lake District, by Gary Caldwell.

Also, be sure to check out the Hayden Cabin (http://mammothmuseum.org/), our fantastic historical museum. It is a great experience. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the creek at the same time.

Here’s a taste from my own photo collection.

Monte Cristo Minemonte cristo

Consolidated Mineconsolidated mine

Unknown Claimunknown claim

Start your research here:

Google Search: https://www.google.com/search?q=mammoth+lakes+mining

Mining Authority: http://www.mindat.org/loc-208566.html

Hiking is fun, and refreshing. Take it to the next level and explore the mines!

Posted by Jay Cole, jay@highwestrealty.com, 760-914-4119


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