Articles - Local Gold Mines We Will Never See

Local Gold Mines We Will Never See!

Part One of Two Installments

Hugh Blanchard

    It’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 Mines

    The 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 Mine

    Okay, 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 Mine

    It’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 Mines

    Until 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.

                Jumbo-Channel Placers (Daven Gray, 1993)

Blue Jay Mine

    John Robinson, on Page 63 in his The San Gabriels, refers to an unnamed "mystery mine in Alder Gulch where the cabins and equipment are still there.  The records do not state who worked the mine.  Only the ghosts can tell."  Well the "mystery mine" is the Blue Jay Mine, a mile and a half down stream from the Jumbo-Channel Placer Mine and about a mile up Alder Gulch.  It was  worked on and off from 1935 through at least 1964 by a Charles Donaldson of Duarte. It was commonly referred to as the Blue Bird Mine.  The shallow tunnel has long since caved in, but the cabin still remains.

                    Blue Jay Miners Cabin (Davin Gray, 1993)

   This article and part two which will follow would not have been possible without the generous assistance of several  individuals. . My daughter Robin spent many hours helping her computer challenged father by scanning and increasing the legibility of the maps . Robert Rice and Doug McKenzie generously provided pictures for two of the  mines and of course the article would not have been possible without the whole hearted cooperation of Daven Gray.

This concludes Part One of Two Installments
    The second installment will focus on the Baldora, Eagle and Gold Dollar  - extremely remote high elevation mines located below San Antonio Ridge between Mt. Baldy and Iron Mountain in the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area

Local Gold Mines We Will Never See!

Part Two of Two Installments

Hugh Blanchard

We will now view high altitude lode mining in the most inaccessible gold mines of all - the Gold Dollar, Eagle and Baldora located below the San Antonio Ridge between Iron MountaIn and Mount Baldy in the Sheep Mountain Wilderness area.

            Topographic map of Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area (USGS, 1993)

Baldora (Widco) Mine

The Baldora, later unofficially also known as the Widco, is located a mile above the Widman Ranch in Dry Gulch, above the confluence of Dry Gulch and Coldwater Canyon. It was worked primarily from 1928 to 1949. There were a number of tunnels, which are now mostly sealed or clogged. There are extensive remains of cable, ball mills,.cabins and a tram.

                Map of Baldora Mine Complex ( Daven Gray, 1993)

                Entrance to Baldora Tunnel (Daven Gray, 1993)

Eagle Mine

    A thousand feet above the Baldora is the Eagle Mine worked on and off from 1913 to 1938. It has an upright 2-stamp mill (one of only two upright stamp mills in L. A. County). There are two tunnel openings with the lower tunnel reportedly about 80 ft long and the upper tunnel about 250 feet. Neither has been entered in recent years.

                        Eagle Stamp Mill (Daven Gray, 1993)

                        Eagle Mine Tunnel (Daven Gray, 1993)

Gold Dollar Mine

    About 600 feet above the Eagle and only 500 feet below San Antonio Ridge is the Gold Dolllar, worked on and off from 1921 to 1938. Remnants of the mining complex are quite abundant but the tunnels appear to be sealed or clogged.

            Gold Dollar Cabin (Professor Christopher Brennen, 1997)

            Gold Dollar Load Station (Professor Christopher Brennen, 1997)

                        Gold Dollar Site Map (Daven Gray, 1993)

    Apparently only two persons have visited any of these remote high elevation mines in recent years. My thanks to Professor Christopher Brennen, who with several companions, visited the Gold Dollar in 1997 and provided me with pictures. Obviously I am greatly indebted to Daven Gray of Mt. Baldy Village, who has visited all of the Mt. Baldy area mines, taken photos and drawn detailed site plans. There is no question that Mr. Gray is the leading authority on the Mt. Baldy area mines and its mining technology. Without his splendid cooperation this article could not have been written. Thanks also to my daughter Robin who spent many hours with the scanning and composition of both articles.