We recommend a 4WD as the safest way, but non 4WD vehicles can make the trip as well. In 1907 a second smelter was built. .. A reported $500 million of minerals were blasted out of the mountain, but any miner worth his axe knows you never report the full value. Between the new interest in zinc, and new discoveries of high-grade silver ore, the mines of Cerro Gordo were finally beginning to operate profitably after decades of ill-fated attempts at restarting them. Details about c.1914 Owens Lake Cerro Gordo Mines Inyo Mountains SP Railroad Tramway Road Map. Please add your email address and specify your topics of interest. The Summit Control Station and Power House can be seen at the top of Daisy Canyon northwest of Cerro Gordo ghost town. c.1914 Owens Lake Cerro Gordo Mines Inyo Mountains SP Railroad Tramway Road Map. Tour interest * Email * Comment * Submit. Your access to Cerro Gordo Mines, Cerro Gordo Ghost Town site and surrounding areas, whether participating in an organized or unorganized event or just exploring, whether authorized or unauthorized, constitutes your agreement to all of the terms and conditions of our Waiver of Liability and Hold Harmless Agreement. He worked as a woodcutter at a nearby lumber camp during the late 1800s. Cerro Gordo has at several times in its history burned down. By 1869, Americans had taken over the property and ultimately turned it into the largest producer of silver and lead in California, yielding ores that assayed at least as high as $300 per ton. The original discovery of rich veins of silver was made by a man named Pablo Flores who began mining and smelting operations near the summit of Buena Vista Peak in 1865. By 1929 the new discovery was in production and Cerro Gordo was once again saved from becoming a ghost town for a few more years. It features original buildings and artifacts relevant to the town and is open for guided tours, photography groups, mineral and rock groups, schools and historical groups. Belshaw operated his road as a toll road, and many disputes would occur during the next decade over his control of the only road to the booming camp. The Assay Office at Cerro Gordo (seen above) was responsible for determining the quality of the ore pulled out of the mountain. What is the road like coming from Keeler? Shipping 1,000 tons of ore daily, Cerro Gordo became the largest producer of zinc carbonates in the entire United States. Trade with the Cerro Gordo district is what brought initial prosperity to the town of Los Angeles. (function() { The Cerro Gordo Historical Foundation was founded to preserve and improve the townsite of Cerro Gordo. In 1872 the steamboat “Molly Stevens” was put into service to transport goods from Swansea on the northern end of Owens Lake, to Cartago on the southern end, removing over 40 miles of difficult road from the wagon route to Los Angeles. © 2017 Cerro Gordo Mines | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED |, Owens Valley History talking about Cerro Gordo. At its peak over 1,000 people lived here working in mines as the San Felipe and Union. Cerro Gordo finally had the basic infrastructure it needed, and a bonanza was about to begin in the district. From the mid to late 1800’s, Cerro Gordo was a lively silver boom town, controlled by a savvy French Canadian merchant named Victor Beaudry, & Mortimer Belshaw, a well educated son of Irish emigrants who just happened to have a background in both engineering and silver mining. Hundreds of miners, prospectors, and businessmen were making their way to the town. Cerro Gordo is a well preserved town with a great history and an awesome visit spot. The Battle of Cerro Gordo, or Battle of Sierra Gordo, was an engagement in the Mexican–American War on April 18, 1847. In 1912, the Cerro Gordo group, whose property now consisted of tunnels and shafts and an aerial tramway connecting the mine with the narrow-gauge Southern Pacific Railroad at Keeler, was acquired by Utah mining men. A smelter was built at Keeler and a steam tractor was used to haul ore down the mountain. Tours are available by reservation and can be guided or self-guided. Numerous stone foundations indicate the extensive size of the mining operation. The mines of Cerro Gordo finally became quiet in 1933. gcse.type = 'text/javascript'; There are the prostitutes in the cribs, the starving Indians whose pinion crops were destroyed for firewood, and the miners who broke their spirits on hard rock and unfulfilled dreams. Is there wifi? By the fall of 1907, the Four Metals Company acquired the Great Western Ore and Reduction Company’s holdings in Cerro Gordo and Keeler. When state mineralogist W. A. Goodyear visited Cerro Gordo in July of that year, he reported “At the present time, there is altogether perhaps thirty or forty men around the site of the old town, getting their living the best they can.”. Just as the mines were running out, another silver discovery was made in 1925. The misfortune of the fire, combined with declining yields of ore from the mine signaled the end of major mining operations by 1879 and Cerro Gordo became a virtual ghost town. By 1907 high-grade zinc was found in the old Cerro Gordo stopes, and ore shipments were begun. You will be required to sign a Liability Waiver before you explore the town. The remains of tramway structure at the Union Mine. I was met by the resident caretaker who unlocked the buildings and led me on the tour. By the end of 1869, over 340 tons of silver bullion had been shipped from the Cerro Gordo mines to Los Angeles. In 1906 there was again interest in reviving the Cerro Gordo mines. In 1905, mining activity was revived in the Panamint region, and hope was seen for many of the old productive mines. Mule teams, owned by Remi Nadeau, transported the ore to Los Angeles, 275 miles away, necessitating high-class ore and bullion in order to make a profit, and for the first few years they did as trains of huge freight wagons delivered so much silver bullion from Cerro Gordo that the Los Angeles News, in February, 1872 stated,“To this city, Cerro Gordo trade is invaluable. You gain a mile in elevation from bottom to top, so it’s steep. It was the first major silver strike in Owens Valley. After our visit to Cerro Gordo, we continued up into the Inyo Mountains. The cost of ... Swansea-Cerro Gordo Road on the crest of the Inyo Mountains after sunset (8:00 p.m.). In 1874 alone, the camp shipped some $2,000,000 in silver-lead bullion. Cerro Gordo, California 2 commodity had to be hauled up the grade from artesian wells in the valley. By 1871 the town of Cerro Gordo was booming. By December of 1868, silver shipments from Cerro Gordo began reaching Los Angeles. Season: All year, depending on weather and road conditions. Now as to what happened to him is a bit sketchy for me. We camped just South of Lone Pine at the Boulder Creek RV Resort.They are very OHV friendly and it was a great location for our rides. Several attempts were made at locating new ore bodies in the Union mine but none were successful. Cerro Gordo saw a return of mining activities in 1907 when high-grade zinc ore was discovered at the Union Mine. *** UPDATE - NEW TRIP DATES ***Cerro Gordo, Saturday - … For further information about rates, group discounts or private events, please call us at 760.689.2443. Later, he would build a superior smelter as well as the first wagon road up the mountain. Item Information. This matter was finally settled in January, 1876 when the Union Consolidated Mining Company of Cerro Gordo was created and preparations made to return to full-scale production. The road to Cerro Gordo is a hard one for man and car. It was hoped the arrival of the railroad would signal a return to prosperity in the Cerro Gordo district, but those hopes were never realized. })(); Copyright © 2021 | Cerro Gordo Road is just short of 8 miles long and fairly steep in places. A segment of the aerial tram that connected the town with the smelters at Keeler still stands, and an ore bucket can still be seen suspended by cables hundreds of feet above the road to Cerro Gordo. We are not responsible for ruts, holes, rocks or the overall condition of the road. It was the arrival of Mortimer Belshaw in April of 1868 that would transform Cerro Gordo into the booming mining town it was destined to be. By 1920, about ten men were still employed by the Cerro Gordo mines company and silver-lead ore was being shipped. In 1915 a new tramway was built to ship zinc ore to Keeler. Its new owners plan to spend about $1 million to make it boom again. Two were held captive and when they were released, were required to promise never to return. Cerro Gordo was once again an active mining town. In 1866 Beaudry opened Cerro Gordo’s first store. In early 1880, a new attempt at working the Cerro Gordo mines was underway. Cerro Gordo is an abandoned mining town in central Inyo County. It is not for vehicles with low ground clearance. Right to Left – Old crib from Lola’s Brothel, Assay Office, tramway structure at the Union Mine and a modern day outhouse. The tramway operated from 1913 to 1918, again between 1920-21, and later in 1929 and 1936. Our goal is to continually upgrade amenities and keep the town intact to be enjoyed and explored as a true historical site in California. A narrative written in 2008 by a person calling himself Dusty Road provides an excellent description of the construction and history of the Saline Valley Salt Tramway . The surface ores were very rich and less complex than silver ores of other districts, and the miners were able to extract significant quantities of silver with nothing but hand labor and crude roasting ovens made of adobe. Silver was roasted and formed into bullion, sent down the Yellow Grade road by mule team, then shipped across Owen’s Lake by steamboat. A fire that raged through some of the mine buildings and the Union shaft was the final straw and the furnaces were closed the following February. Bring your own food and water. By 1873 breakdowns in the Los Angeles freighting routes caused a huge pile of silver bullion being stuck at Owens Valley shipping centers, resulting in temporary shutdown of the local smelters. Shipping 1,000 tons of ore daily, Cerro Gordo became the largest producer of zinc carbonates in the United States. Yes, but please keep them on a leash for their safety, as well as the safety of other guests and their pets. Cerro Gordo Mining in the 1900's Part Two. The damage was repaired but the mine was left in debt. var gcse = document.createElement('script'); In 1908, an aerial tramway was built between Cerro Gordo and the smelters at Keeler, improving the volume and efficiency of transporting ore. By the 1910s attention had turned to Cerro Gordo’s zinc ores. Cerro Gordo Cerro Gordo, Inyo County. Shootings and violence were were commonplace, often fueled by alcohol from the many saloons or jealous rivalries at the local brothels. Shipping 1,000 tons of ore daily, Cerro Gordo became the largest producer of zinc carbonates in the entire United States. By 1875, Cerro Gordo’s water supplies had ran out and water had to be hauled in continuously by pack train. You’ll see and visit the many buildings still standing in Cerro Gordo. The district remained prosperous for several years. We always suggesting checking the weather before making your trip as it changes quickly. CERRO GORDO. It’s also very steep and narrow at some parts, so if you are afraid of heights, we suggest either not coming or not looking down. The battle saw Winfield Scott's United States troops outflank Antonio López de Santa Anna's larger Mexican army, driving it from a strong defensive position. Price: US $95.00 . It can be mild in the summer, but very cold and snowy in the winter. The tractor cut the ore hauling time in half, but still could not keep the smelter in enough ore to be profitable. In 1912, the Cerro Gordo group, whose property now consisted of tunnels and shafts and an aerial tramway connecting the mine with the narrow-gauge Southern Pacific Railroad at Keeler, was acquired by Utah mining men. The road in is about eight miles, steep and 4 wheel drive is recommended. Schedule a tour to see what life is like here. function ml_webform_success_2150690(){var r=ml_jQuery||jQuery;r(".ml-subscribe-form-2150690 .row-success").show(),r(".ml-subscribe-form-2150690 .row-form").hide()}. In 1908, an aerial tramway was built between Cerro Gordo and the smelters at Keeler, improving the volume and efficiency of transporting ore. In 1916 electricity reached the town and the mines of the district. Bradshaw had experience with silver mining in Mexico, and he recognized that a smelter would transform the district into a major producer. Keep up to date with Cerro Gordo news and information. In the early 1870’s, two smelters were erected at Cerro Gordo and one on Owens Lake near the rival town of Swansea. Nestled in the foothills of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range, Cerro Gordo is currently a collection of 13 homes and families organized as a cooperative, with access to conservation easements consisting of 1,000 acres of mountains, meadows, forests, and creeks. Do not leave pets unattended or in vehicles; heat kills quickly, and pets are especially vulnerable to predators if left alone. The buildings, surroundings and vistas are spectacular, so the town is perfect for photography clubs and workshops. In 1914 he took title to the property from the previous owner, the Four Metals Co., and incorporated the Cerro Gordo Mines Co. Cerro Gordo was booming again. In 1868 another businessman named Mortimer Belshaw arrived in Cerro Gordo and after establishing a partnership with another stakeholder in the Union Mine, he brought the first wagon load of silver from Cerro Gordo to Los Angeles. Small scale mining persisted for many months and despite the clear abundance of rich ore, widespread attention escaped the remote district for some time. They are not allowed in any Town buildings. Although the town had gained a new lease on life, it never reached anywhere near the enormous production and resulting riches from the boom years of the 1870s. Cerro Gordo is a summit in Velez Blanco and has an elevation of 1257 metres. Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 9:00 AM: For those that missed the June trip, we're headed back to Cerro Gordo in October (and the crowd goes wild)! Are pets allowed? The financiers were impressed, and Belshaw left San Francisco as a third owner of the newly formed Union Mining Company, with enough capital to begin construction of a smelter to process the Cerro Gordo ores. In 1875, Cerro Gordo suffered a series of setbacks, forcing the shutdown of its furnaces. Cerro Gordo is situated north of Montalviche. I finally got up to Cerro Gordo last Saturday and took a tour of the town. Cerro Gordo Road is a county maintained gravel/dirt road, just short of 8 miles long and fairly steep in places. Cerro Gordo was known as a lawless and dangerous town during this time. There may be insects, wild animals or snakes, so please do not allow your pet near wild animals or their dens or burrows. Can I dig rocks or hunt for artifacts? There is no public wifi and cellphone coverage is very spotty. See and learn about some of our most noteworthy sights and structures and hear brief histories designed to give you a sense of what it was like to live in Cerro Gordo during its heyday. These problems resulted from a scarcity of ore in the mine, which had lasted for several months, and the temporary drying up of its water supply. What’s the elevation? More than 1,500 people filled the camp and buildings were going up as fast as materials could be supplied. Twenty tons of zinc ore were transported daily to the Carson and Colorado Railroad at Keeler. Cerro Gordo initially went up for sale on June 2 and the list price was $925,000. The town was the silver thread to Los Angeles, being partially responsible for its growth and economic development. What if I find something valuable? Background. Name * First. Today Cerro Gordo is a ghost town with a few part time residents and a handful of preserved buildings. Condition:--not specified. We ask that any valuable artifacts found are left for the Cerro Gordo Museum so others may enjoy the history. Known as the Yellow Grade Road, Belshaw charged tolls for its use and was able to control the shipments of silver from the mountain. Photo: LCGS Russ, CC BY 3.0. However, after Fort Independence was established and the Indian activity subsided, the Mexicans came back in 1862. ISU Extension in Cerro Gordo County serves Iowans through five program areas: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business and Industry, Communities, Families, 4-H Youth Development. There are outhouses for guest convenience. Can I stay overnight or camp? The “fat hill” produced silver, lead and zinc for a century. var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; Depending on the time of year, we suggest bringing a jacket and warm clothing. Making matters worse in the slowdown of production was litigation that was initiated in 1870 over ownership of the Union mine. by Cecile Page Vargo . 9am-4pm standard time, 9am-5pm daylight savings time. The ownership changed hands four times during this period. Mining operations spanned 1866 to 1957, producing high grade silver, lead, and zinc ore. A few years later, in 1924, silver-lead ore on the old dumps was still being worked. Several attempts were made at restarting the Union mine in the 1890s, but depressed silver prices during this decade thwarted the efforts every time. The mill at Keeler was not performing as hoped and mine in the area were not producing the same high grade ores that were typical of previous decade. Hours: 9am to 5pm A view roughly southeast along Cerro Gordo Road to a long-abandoned tramway that served the Cerro Gordo mining district during its boom years (probably late 1800s to early 1900s). I posted all the GPS files in the Maps & GPS Tracks section of this website. He then built two modern smelters and continued acquiring mining rights from debtors until he soon owned a majority of the richest and most productive mines in the area, which eventually included a partial interest in the Union Mine. By 1867, tales of the silver at Cerro Gordo had spread, bringing in flocks of new prospectors. Privacy. Adults: $10 donation s.parentNode.insertBefore(gcse, s); Cerro Gordo Tram. Document Archive | Our interest in the Cerro Gordo had been aroused during a previous trip into that region when we saw at Keeler the lower terminus of' the old tramway which once brought the rich ore from the mine down the side of the mountain. Cerro Gordo, located at a remote location east of Owens Lake in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California, was California’s largest producer of silver. The particular details of the discovery are obscure, but it is thought that the first discoveries of silver ore were made by Mexican miners in 1865. Welcome to Cerro Gordo. Adding to your cart. What do I bring? From the lakeside port of Cartago the bullion was loaded onto Remi Nadeau’s freighters and hauled into Los Angeles… Go to their full site. Cerro Gordo Mining in the 1900’s. The Cerro Gordo Mine isn’t a single mine, rather it is a collection of abandoned mines near Lone Pine. Cerro Gordo, in the Inyo Mountains of California, became a ghost town after decades of disuse. By modern methods the ore could be worked profitably. He supervised the construction of the first wagon road to the town in July of 1868. The Cerro Gordo Mines are a collection of abandoned mines located in the Inyo Mountains, in Inyo County, near Lone Pine, California. It consists of a number of wooden buildings, the most imposing of which is the two-story American Hotel, once the center of town. Bier and Underwood's offer was accepted on June 20th and the deal … It is the silver cord that binds our present existence. A 200 ton smelter was erected east of Keeler. A walking tour of Cerro Gordo highlights our rich mining history and lets you step back in time. Today, Cerro Gordo is considered one of the best. Cerro Gordo is located on the western slope of the Inyo Mountains about seven miles east of Keeler and thirty miles south of Independence. Four Metals Company Smelter & Tramway. The control operator’s house has been restored, and is a pleasant spot for modern backcountry travelers to pause for a picnic and ponder over the construction of the great salt tramway in the early 1900’s.