The Bunker Hill Mine is situated in a side canyon off of Lead Canyon, on the Saline Valley side of the Inyo Mountains. Access to the mine, and it’s camp have been cut off via vehicle, but is still accessible via a short half-mile hike up an old dirt road. The mines on the other hand are located nearly 1,000 feet above the camp, with the most significant ruins being that of the tramway, situated along a narrow shelf with a completely washed out trail.
The Bunker Hill Mine was an early discovery (exact date unknown), records kept as early as 1907 were calling the mine, “the famous old Bunker Hill lead mine,” and went on to say, “several years ago was shipping some very high-grade ore of which not a single carload lot went less than 72 per cent lead.”
The few other reports which I have been able to locate indicate that in the early 1900s the mine exchanged hands often. Also there appeared to be a severe lack of miners working in the region, causing significant delays in progress. In 1916 a report states, “a large tonnage is exposed underground and the ore on the dumps is estimate to be worth from $70,000 to $100,000.” In modern-day values, that would be $1,595,809 – $2,279,728.
After those few bits and pieces of information, the recorded history of the mine disappears, despite that there was an ongoing operation into more recent years . The unrecorded history of these sites is tragic, and unfortunately with the old timers dying off, much will never be known about this site as well as many others.
I paid the site a visit in March of 2015, and found there to be several corrugated metal buildings still standing at the site of the camp. These buildings, while not as visually appealing as an old wooden cabin, are well constructed and glisten in the sunshine. A large 2-bedroom home and workshop are the jewels of the camp. The home is wallpapered with vintage newspaper, magazine articles and advertisements. A disturbing shade of blue shag carpet covers the floors of the some of the rooms, while a puke colored brown is splattered across the rest. A random assortment of decorations are found scattered throughout the rooms.
The workshop, which sits beside the home is a spectacular feature! It still contains some milling machinery, and a forge – which would have been used to melt ore. All of the machinery is the “pint-sized” versions, likely used to test samples.
A large bunk house is another of the buildings that continues to defy nature. It is probably the cleanest and best kept of all of the structures, containing a wood burning stove, and the steel frame of a bunk-bed. Located down hill from the bunk house is one last small structure, the engine house. The gasoline powered engine, which at one time powered the now collapsed, lower portion of the aerial tramway still sits inside.
The mine is situated high above the camp, and contains over a dozen tunnels, with the longest reaching 200 feet.