Articles - Mount Gleason Mine


By Hugh W. Blanchard

Mining in Soledad Canyon, much of which is now part of Acton, began in 1861.  In 1869 George Gleason, a local miner, built a road up to the nearby high mountain, later named after him, to obtain timber.  High on its north slope, he found gold-bearing quartz veins.  Soon many mines were dug, several of which were worked on and off until the early 1930’s.  However, gold in regular paying quantities was never found.

Today, only one significant tunnel remains – The Gleason Mine. All others have apparently been sealed by the Forest Service.  Without a guide, the best way to reach it is to drive 6 miles up Mt. Gleason Road, which starts at the junction of Mill Creek Summit and Angeles Forest highway, to a county work camp.  Continue past the camp on the road, which is now dirt, a half-mile farther to a parking area.

                                miner's cabin ruins (Blanchard 2003)

From there, a gated poor dirt road, the “Old Miners Road”, descends steeply north for half a mile before turning left (west) across Gleason Creek and continues two additional miles with numerous ups and downs before ending.  After about a mile and a half, several hundred yards past what was a miner’s cabin but which is now just a pile of boards, you will see a conspicuous grouping of rocks and timber on the right (north) a short distance above Gleason Creek.  The mine is in a small depression just above the rocks.  

Along the side of the road in this area are several mining prospects, some shallow exploratory digs and scattered sections of ore-cart rails.

        Grotto member Roger Brown exiting the Mount Gleason Mine (June 2006)

                                    the mine's entrance (June 2006)

                                      the end of the mine (June 2006)

The Gleason presumably remains unsealed because it and a partially collapsed mining cabin several hundred feet above it are on private property within the national forest.  A mining claim for the Eagle and Last Chance Mining Properties was filed in 1892 by a Robert Henry Fauntleroy Variel.  R.H.F. Variel was a well known attorney in Los Angeles around the turn of the 20th Century.  His granddaughter, Mary Variel Grimes of Los Angeles, advised the writer that she, her brother and several cousins each own one-third of the property.  The property is not posted. The writer sent Mrs. Grimes pictures of the cabin and mine since she had never seen the property.

Another way to reach the cabin and mine is to go on the ridgeline above the creek and descend to the cabin and mine.  However, without a guide, it is very difficult to know when to descend because of the abundant chaparral, which conceals the cabin and mine from above.

The mine is 200 feet long and turns right twice; it is 7 feet high and 5 feet wide except for a room in the middle, which measures approximately 16 feet high and 15 feet wide.  There are a number of ceiling support beams and some wooden sorting rays just inside the entrance.  It is completely dry.

The writer has led several Grotto and Sierra Club trips to the mine in recent years. Quite recently there has been signs of mining, keep out signs and a trailer set up on the old miners road below the mine. I contacted the owner who states she has no knowledge of this illegal occupancy.  

             Unauthorized sign and gate near Mount Gleason Mine (June 2006)

       Illegally parked trailer on the old miners road below the mine (June 2006)

      Signs of illegal mining activity near the Mount Gleason Mine (June 2006)