Bunker Hill Mine

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.

 

The workshop and two-bedroom house.

The workshop and two-bedroom house.

 

I'm not sure that "rustic charm" would work here. The rustic interior of the house.

I’m not sure that “rustic charm” would work here. The rustic interior of the house.

 

A further look into the home at the Bunker Hill Mine.

A further look into the home at the Bunker Hill Mine.

 

The walls are wallpapered with vintage newspaper and magazine articles.

The walls are wallpapered with vintage newspaper and magazine articles.

 

"Creepy"

“Creepy”

 

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 interior of the workshop.

The interior of the workshop.

 

An old forge - used to melt down the ore.

An old forge – used to melt down the ore.

 

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.

 

The bunk house

The bunk house

 

The interior of the Bunk house is clean, and uncluttered.

The interior of the Bunk house is clean, and uncluttered.

 

The collapsed lower portion of the aerial tramway.

The collapsed lower portion of the aerial tramway.

 

The gasoline powered engine.

The gasoline powered engine.

 

The trestle, and an ore bin - located nearly 1,000 feet above the camp.

The trestle, and an ore bin – located nearly 1,000 feet above the camp.

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

  • pat

    that place looks to be in pretty darn good shape! One more place I’ve never been to. Nice photos Jim!

  • Kurt Ellington

    Dear Jim–
    I’m sorry you felt the need to delete my question as spam.
    Perhaps due to the link?
    I’m sorry I only meant to reference my past questions to clarify this,
    Here it is again without the any link.
    I only ask as I’m considering going back…. while I sill have the spunk left in me.
    I enjoy your site & I have alot of topics to share if your interested, Kurt (aka Desert LowDog).
    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Dear Jim,
    please consider my discovery of a very old iron-gated crystal cave in the mojave region –>>
    I’ve been asking about this for 15 years,
    It is a crystal vug & iron-gated cave I found in the mojave region.

    This is related to a string of high-desert spanish/jesuit trail markers I tracked around the mile-high level of the desert slopes. A few I know have heard tales of what I’m talking about. I’ve been too ill to return since discovering it. I researched the lock on the iron-bar doors and it’s very old I believe. The trail markers ended near a ridgetop — following them led to the ‘crystal heart’ mine (according to the wood-burned spanish signs I found). It was beautifully stunning for my friend & I too behold. The heavy iron doors had one very large antique built-in lock in the center.

    Staring into the mouth the ceiling is lined with crystal spears…. the floor is sand. Diameters at about 10′ tall — 15′ wide & depth 20′ to 30′ or more — I can’t tell. I considered cutting out the bars or lock with a friend…. but its many miles of hiking from any driveable locale. This is related to the gated arch mine my father found in the neighboring canyon with cemented arch stonework and iron gates on two of the entrances…. again in very steep adverse terrain.