The Cerro Gordo Mines are a collection of abandoned mines located in the Inyo Mountains, near Lone Pine, California in Inyo County, California. Mining operations were undertaken from 1866 until 1957, producing high grade silver, lead, and zinc ore. Some ore was smelted on site, but larger capacity smelters were eventually constructed along the shore of nearby Owens Lake.
These smelting operations were the beginnings of the towns of Swansea and Keeler. Most of the metal ingots produced here were transported to Los Angeles, but transportation difficulties hindered the success of the mines. Mining of silver and lead peaked in the early 1880s, with a second mining boom producing zinc in the 1910s.
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Discovery of the silver ore is credited to Pablo Flores, who began mining and smelting operations near the summit of Buena Vista Peak in 1865. Increasing white migration to the area was met with resistance from the Native Americans, which limited early mining efforts. The establishment of Fort Independence allowed for the expulsion of native populations, facilitating the expansion of the mining town.
These early miners employed relatively primitive techniques of open pits and trenches and used adobe ovens to smelt the ore. Businessman Victor Beaudry of nearby Independence, California, became impressed by the quality of silver mined at Cerro Gordo and opened a store nearby. He soon acquired several mining claims to settle unpaid debts and proceeded to have two modern smelters built. Beaudry continued acquiring mining rights from debtors until he soon owned a majority of the richest and most productive mines in the area, including partial interest in the Union Mine.
In 1868, Mortimer Belshaw arrived in Cerro Gordo (Rich Hill), attracted by the rich deposits of galena ore. 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. In Los Angeles he was able to secure financing to build his own smelter that was superior to all other smelters at Cerro Gordo, as well as to build the first wagon road up the mountain. This road became known as the Yellow Road from the colour of the rock that it had been cut through. By operating the Yellow Road as a toll road, Belshaw was able to earn income and control the shipments of silver from the mountain.
Cerro Gordo is privately owned and currently a ghost town and tourist attraction. It still has several buildings, including the general store and the American Hotel. Permission to visit must be obtained.The town was put up for sale in June 2018 and sold the following month to Los Angeles entrepreneurs, who planned to keep it open to the public. The buyers, Brent Underwood and partner Jon Bier, purchased the property with additional investment from a collection of Los Angeles-based creatives. Early morning on June 15, 2020, the American Hotel burnt down along with a neighboring building. The owners plan to rebuild the American Hotel.
Remi Nadeau, a descendant of the family involved with the transport of ingots from Cerro Gordo across Owens Lake and by mule train to Los Angeles, has written books and articles on the period.
Cerro Gordo, along with the Inya Mine and the Belshaw House, located in the town, were featured on the season 19 episode of Ghost Adventures titled "Cerro Gordo Ghost Town", which aired in 2019 on the Travel Channel.
Keeler, formerly known as Hawley is a census-designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California, United States. Keeler is located on the east shore of Owens Lake 11.5 miles (19 km) south-southeast of New York Butte, at an elevation of 3602 feet. The population was 66 people at the 2010 census, unchanged from the 2000 census.
Lone Pine is a census designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California, United States. Lone Pine is located 16 miles (26 km) south-southeast of Independence, at an elevation of 3,727 feet. The population was 2,035 at the 2010 census, up from 1,655 at the 2000 census. The town is located in the Owens Valley, near the Alabama Hills and Mount Whitney, between the eastern peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Inyo Mountains to the east. From possible choices of urban, rural, and frontier, the Census Bureau identifies this area as "frontier". The local hospital, Southern Inyo Hospital, offers standby emergency services. The town is named after a solitary pine tree that once existed at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon. On March 26, 1872, the very large Lone Pine earthquake destroyed most of the town and killed 27 of its 250 to 300 residents.
Owens Valley is an arid valley of the Owens River in eastern California in the United States, to the east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the White Mountains and Inyo Mountains on the west edge of the Great Basin. The mountain peaks on either side reach above 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in elevation, while the floor of the Owens Valley is about 4,000 feet (1,200 m), making the valley the deepest in the United States. The Sierra Nevada casts the valley in a rain shadow, which makes Owens Valley "the Land of Little Rain." The bed of Owens Lake, now a predominantly dry endorheic alkali flat, sits on the southern end of the valley.
Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California. It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Lone Pine, California. Unlike most dry lakes in the Basin and Range Province that have been dry for thousands of years, Owens held significant water until 1913, when much of the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, causing Owens Lake to desiccate by 1926. Today, some of the flow of the river has been restored, and the lake now contains some water. Nevertheless, as of 2013, it is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.
Swansea is a former settlement and unincorporated community in Inyo County, California. It is located 8.5 miles (14 km) south of New York Butte, at an elevation of 3,661 ft (1,116 m).
Cerro Gordo may refer to:
Freeman Junction, a ghost town in Kern County, California, USA, was first homesteaded in the 1920s by Clare C. Miley, who was born in 1900. By the 1930s a restaurant, gas station and mining activities dominated the site. By June 1976 the town had died and the remains of the town have been removed by passersby.
Panamint City is a ghost town in the Panamint Range, near Death Valley, in Inyo County, California, US. It is also known by the official Board of Geographic Names as Panamint. Panamint was a boom town founded after silver and copper were found there in 1872. By 1874, the town had a population of about 2,000. Its main street was one mile (1.6 km) long. Panamint had its own newspaper, the Panamint News. Silver was the principal product mined in the area. The town is located about three miles northwest of Sentinel Peak. According to the National Geographic Names Database, NAD27 latitude and longitude for the locale are, and the feature ID number is 1661185. The elevation of this location is identified as being 6,280 feet AMSL. The similar-sounding Panamint Springs, California, is located about 25.8 miles at 306.4 degrees off true north near Panamint Junction.
A silver rush is the silver-mining equivalent of a gold rush, where the discovery of silver-bearing ore sparks a mass migration of individuals seeking wealth in the new mining region.
Laws is an unincorporated community in Inyo County, California. Laws is located 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Bishop on U.S. Route 6, towards the Nevada state line. Laws has been noted for its unusual place name.
Remi A. Nadeau was an American historian. He earned a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dunmovin is an unincorporated community in Inyo County, California. It is located 4.8 km (3 mi) north of Coso Junction and 21.6 km (13.5 mi) south-southeast of Olancha, at an elevation of 3507 feet.
Lookout City is a former settlement in the Mojave Desert, in Inyo County, California. It lay at an elevation of 3579 feet.
Bristol Wells, also known as National City, Bristol City and Tempest, is a ghost town in Lincoln County, Nevada. The mining town was located on the west side of Bristol Mountain, 14 miles (23 km) northwest of Pioche, Nevada.
Noonday Camp, also known as Mill City, Noonday City, and Tecopa, is a ghost town located in the Mojave Desert east of Tecopa in Inyo County, California.
Poeville, also known as Peavine until 1863, is the site of a historical mining town, established in 1864. John Poe, a professional promoter from Michigan allegedly related to Edgar Allan Poe, discovered rich gold and silver veins in 1862 on the slopes of Peavine Mountain. After the discovery of ore, Poe announced that the veins comprised the next Comstock Lode; he presented extracted ore at the state fair of 1864 as rich in content. As a result, the former mining camp, called Poe City (Poeville) or Podunk (Poedunk), grew to 200 people by 1864. Ore production in the mining district and population peaked around 1873-1874 with several hundred people living in town, supported by three hotels and a post office. The post office, named "Poeville", operated between September 1, 1874, and March 24, 1878.
Ruby Hill is a ghost town in Eureka County, in the central part of the U.S. state of Nevada, approximately 2.6 mi (4.2 km) west of the town of Eureka, Nevada. In 1910, the Ruby Hill Railroad was washed out, after which there were only three businesses in town.
Kearsarge or Kearsarge City is a former mining settlement in Inyo County, eastern California. It was located high on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada, 8 miles (13 km) west of present-day town of Independence, California.
White Mountain City is a former small mining settlement, now in Inyo County, California. It was founded in 1861 on the east slope of the White Mountains, at the lower reaches of Wyman Creek 2.91 miles north of Deep Springs, in Deep Springs Valley.
Seventeen Mile Point is a mountain at the north end of the Old Dad Mountains in San Bernardino County, California. Its summit is at an altitude of 2,500 feet / 762 meters.