Local Gold Mines We Will Never See!
Part One of Two Installments
Hugh BlanchardIt’s not because they’re gated or off limits. They don’t require ropes or a diving mask. Most of them are only about 50 miles or so from your house.
We won’t be visiting them because reaching them requires many miles of tough hiking through remote wilderness areas with few if any trails.
Now let’s read about and view pictures of local gold mines we will never see or visit.
Redrock Canyon MinesThe writer first with grotto member Dell Quick and son Donny and later with Sierra Club hardmen Tom Hill and Mars Bonfire made several unsuccessful efforts in 2000 to find these three mines located several miles east of Lake Castaic near Redrock Mountain. Our efforts are described in the December 2001 Explorer. Back in 1980, however, several young men from the Castaic area using motorcycles part of the way made a number of backpacking trips to the mines and took pictures to prove it. To the writer’s knowledge, no one had been to the mines for at least 50 years before their visits or the quarter century since.The young explorers had the incentive of believing they were close to finding the legendary Lost Padres Mine with its Spanish-era treasures. Since this area is now rapidly turning into an unofficial wilderness area with few roads or trails, the writer doubts that these mines will be visited again in our time.
Former Grotto member John Childress and Robert Rice at
the entrance of one of the Redrock Canyon Mines. (1980)
Allison MineOkay, maybe this mine shouldn’t be included since a number of hikers try to get there although most don’t make it. And yes, there is actually a trail, but only for part of the way. It is even included as one of the hikes in John Robinson’s Trails of the Angeles. However, the writer is, I believe, the only grotto member to have been there (and paid the price see May 2002 Explorer). So let me indulge myself and list it. It is high on Allison Gulch, off of the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. To reach it requires a 14-mile roundtrip hike with a 3,000-foot elevation gain. There are six tunnels but three are clogged. Reportedly there is about l,l00 feet of passage in the three open tunnels but no current mapping has been performed. It was worked from 1913 to 1942.
Entrance to Main Tunnel (Daven Gray, 1993)
Ore Bin Outside Main Tunnel (writer 1999)
Site Plan of Allison Mine Complex (Daven Gray, 1993)
Stanley-Miller MineIt’s a mile beyond the "Bridge" on the East Fork and 1,200 feet above Iron Fork Junction. If the Allison is a tough day hike then the Stanley-Miller is a killer. The writer knows of only two people who have been there in recent years. Former grotto member Doug MacKenzie did it in 2001 and Daven Gray has been there several times (no surprise). There are five tunnels two of them clogged. The three open tunnels supposedly have about 700 feet of passage. The main tunnel has an ore cart at the entrance. It was worked from 1913 to 1939.
Ore Cart – Main Tunnel of Stanley Miller (Daven Gray, 1993)
Cabin – Stanley Miller Mine (Doug MacKenzie, 2001)
(Compare with picture of same cabin in 1939
– John Robinson’s The San Gabriels, Page 62)
Site Plan – Stanley-Miller Mine (Daven Gray, 1995 and 2002)
Native Son MinesUntil several years ago, these mines would have been a snap to reach - probably less than a mile of hiking. They are located on the north slope of Prairie Fork, near the end of Blue Ridge Road, which exits the Angeles Crest Highway just before Wrightwood and Mountain High ski area. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has now gated the Blue Ridge Road at Guffy Campground, which turned a short day hike into a 16 mile round trip backpack.. There were six tunnels, varying in length from 100 to 750 feet. Most are now clogged. Daven Gray has found four of them, none mapped or entered. It was worked from 1897 to 1920.
Native Son Tunnel (Daven Gray, 1993)
Jumbo Channel Placers
From Vincent Saddle on Angeles Crest Hwy the trail to Prairie Fork and
Mine Gulch is 3 1/2 miles. At that point, the three tributaries
(Vincent Gulch, Mine Gulch and Prairie Fork) form the main East
Fork. A short distance from Prairie Fork going right (west) is
the unmaintained Mine Gulch Trail Camp. Just beyond the camp, on
the other side of Mine Gulch streambed, is the beginning of an old
miners trail, which continues downstream above the East Fork for over
500 feet. At one spot the miners had to blast a 20 feet tunnel to
continue. .When the trail seems to end in a flat ravine like area with
a water pipe hanging down, continue another 200 feet first to the left
(east) and then south traversing the ravine and you will see a pit and
a drift mine. This is the Jumbo-Channel Placers Mine, initially
worked in 1937 and supposedly 110 feet long. It has not been
mapped or entered.