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Rock Creek Message Board => Eastern Sierra History => Topic started by: wshawkins on April 20, 2012, 08:30:50 AM

Title: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 20, 2012, 08:30:50 AM
This is a re-post of a story on the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine.  I’m only scratching the surface on the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine.  The book, “Mine in the Sky” by Joseph M. Kurtak will give you the full story if you like to read more. 


The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine


Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/PineCreekMill-1.jpg)


Prospectors located mining claims along Pine Creek high up in the rugged Sierra Nevada west of Bishop in 1895, but the gold and silver content of the assayed rock proved too disappointing. The ground lay dormant until 1916, when Billie Vaughn and Arch Beauregard discovered outcrops with molybdenum and the tungsten-bearing mineral scheelite while prospecting near the headwaters of Pine Creek. Vaughn and Beauregard filed on claims situated at an elevation of 11,300 feet above sea level, and with two other partners extended the 7-mile-long trail from Round Valley for another three miles. Pack mules transported equipment and supplies up the steep 3,000-foot slope, including a concentrating table that had to be cut up into sections.


Wagon road was built to replace the rugged pack trail to the mine. 1918
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/WagonRoad.jpg)


The claims were worked during and shortly after World War I to produce scheelite concentrates, which were packed down the trail on mule back. Tungsten extracted from the scheelite was used to make durable steel alloys, and thus was in high demand during wartime. Because of this demand, tungsten increased in value fivefold from that of the pre-war years. The partners soon realized that they did not have the financial means to develop the deposit on a large enough scale to make mining profitable, and by January 1918 had struck a deal with a new partner who obtained the needed capital. New trails and roads were built, power lines and pipelines were constructed, and mine timbers were cut using an electric-powered sawmill that was packed in on mules. Upon completion of the Rock Creek wagon road, which used part of the old Sherwin toll road, machinery for the mines and a mill was transported from the railroad station at Laws, a distance of 50 miles by the new wagon road. The mill went into operation in December 1918 but was forced to close two months later due to plummeting tungsten prices.


Mule team hauling machinery to the tungsten mine on Pine Creek 1918
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MuleTeams.jpg)


The Natural Soda Products Company purchased the Pine Creek mine in 1922 and then reorganized as the Tungsten Products Company. Tungsten prices had risen somewhat since the 1919 crash, and the company moved ahead with improvements. In 1924, an adit was driven that shortened the distance from the mine to the mill, improving winter operations. Ore was hauled to the surface by mules pulling six-car trains and then transported to the mill via rail tram. The Rock Creek road was abandoned due to the difficulty of keeping it open during winter, so most supplies were hauled to the mine by pack mules via the Pine Creek trail. The concentrates carried down the trail on mule back were transported by road to the railroad station at Laws. Although problems due to weather conditions persisted, optimism ran high; unfortunately, by 1928 the mine workings and mill were idle once again due to events related to the 1927 Watterson Bank failure.


Hauling a 30-foot-long power pole using the two-mule swivel packsaddle system during reconstruction of the mine's power line in 1937. Swivel packsaddles allowed the animals to turn under the load while negotiating tight switchbacks on the trail
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/2MuleCarrying30footpole.jpg)


The Pine Creek mine lay dormant until 1936, at which time the US Vanadium Corporation acquired the property and began developing it into a world-class producer of tungsten. Transportation remained a challenge due the remote location and harsh winter conditions. Horses and mules continued to be used to pack materials and supplies into the early 1940s. George Brown, a Paiute Indian from Round Valley, was foremost among the packers of this era, carrying everything from drill rods and power poles to timbers, cable, and bull wheels for construction of a 2.5-mile-long tramway to the Tungsten Mine, situated at an elevation of 12,000 feet above sea level on the east face of Mt. Tom. According to some accounts, construction of the tramway was the last big commercial/industrial packing job in the Eastern Sierra. Completed in December 1941, this tram was probably the last all-wood construction project of its kind in the United States. The towers were built high enough for tram buckets to clear the large amounts of snow that accumulated in the winter. In addition to carrying ore, the tram was used to bring in supplies for snowbound employees and transport injured workers out of the mine.


Workers at the lower tram house of the Tungsten Mill. Workers sometimes rode in the ore buckets to avoid the 4,500-foot climb to the mine. This dangerous practice proved fatal in one case. 1941
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/LowerTramHouse.jpg)


After completion of the road over 11,000-foot Morgan Pass in 1939 and the tramway in 1941, the need for pack mules diminished. Heavy duty Lynn half-trucks began making regular trips over the arduous Morgan Creek Road. When the road was choked with snow, bulldozers were used to pull sleds laden with supplies. During big snowstorms, the mine was cut off from the outside world for weeks at a time. At such times, Tex Cushion and his dog team made numerous trips to deliver mail and supplies and to respond to medical emergencies, sometimes during raging blizzards.


Tex Couchane (aka Cushion) and his dog team delivered supplies when no other means of transportation could reach the camp. 1937
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/TexCouchanehisdogteam.jpg)


Clearing the snow-choked road over Morgan Pass in spring of 1938 to keep the Rock Creek Road open
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MorganPass.jpg)


RD7 Caterpillar dozers pulling supply sleds over Morgan Pass in 1938
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/RD7Caterpillardozerspullingsupplies.jpg)


In the years leading up to and during World War II, tungsten once again gained strategic importance. By 1942, the mine had become the largest producer of tungsten in the country. The Pine Creek tungsten mine was a major contributor to the economy of the Eastern Sierra for nearly 54 years before being mothballed in 2001 due to the availability of low-cost imports from China.

Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: saudust on April 20, 2012, 09:58:37 AM
Great post!  Thanks.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Sierra Bright Dot on April 21, 2012, 08:42:58 PM
wshawkins, love your stories!

While visiting my parents recently I had dinner with a childhood friend.  I asked her to retell me this story so I could share it here.  At one  time she worked for the State Compensation Insurance Fund and she had to visit the Pine Creek Mine to interview some employees who were injured.  She was told that she would be the first woman ever to enter the mine!  Some of the miners were very upset about her entering the mine as they were superstitious about a women being in the mine.  She went in anyway!  She thought the year was about 1976.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Sierraslam on April 21, 2012, 11:16:16 PM
There's gold over Pine Creek Pass! Seen a lot of that mine. Thanks so much for the pics. and info Hawk! Just incredible stuff. Your contributions are priceless.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 22, 2012, 05:05:37 PM
Although women miners are a common sight in mines today, in the past their presence was considered a curse. Women used to cause as much uneasiness around mines as ghosts did. Probably the most common superstition in the mines was that disaster would follow if a woman set foot in a mine.

Even famous women could bring bad luck. In March 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, visited Willow Grove Mine at St. Clairsville, Ohio. The miners were very nervous. The miners believed that because of her visit the Willow Grove Mine was "hexed." On March 16, several days after Mrs. Roosevelt's visit, the mine blew up, and 72 miners were killed.

As for tours of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine, they did do tours one summer that I know of.  It was soon after they closed down the last time in 2001.  Saw it advertised in Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Wave or Mammoth Times and signed up.  Was a good tour of a modern mine!  They took us to various buildings, such as the mill building site, locker rooms, power room and control room.  Best part was the tour was inside the main mine tunnel in an oar car that took us back ¼ mile to where the mine is plugged!  Second best was operating a Jack Leg Drill.  Tour was a lot of fun.  Recommend to take it if it comes up again.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Claremont Dude on April 23, 2012, 09:25:56 AM
Great story and fabulous pictures. Thanks for sharing it. Can't imagine what it was like to ride an ore bucket down the tram. Must have been a real "E" ticket ride.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 25, 2012, 10:21:21 AM
More pictures from the tour:


Electric Mules and Ore Cars in storage in the Snow Tunnel
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/ElectricCarsinthesnowtunnelwithorecars-1.jpg)


Looking inside the Ore Crusher
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/InsidetheRodMillandcrushedore-1.jpg)


Deep in the Mine is Morgan Creek
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/MorganCreekasitleavestheMountain-1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: DoubleDingo on April 25, 2012, 11:39:35 AM
That board on the ground up against the wall in the left side of the picture of the plug is exactly what I talked about before in the old post.  A guy I worked with used to work in that Mine, and said for 30 years he and the different crews would walk past a board like that.  On or near the last day before going onto other employment, the curiosity got the better of him and the board was lifted, and revealed a vertical shaft that dropped over 1,500 feet straight down.  No safety rail protection, just a loose board lying on the ground covering a vertical drop that could easily kill a person, yet never did.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 25, 2012, 05:33:27 PM
DoubleDingo got you on this one FlyGirl!  Look at the Pine Creek Model again.  Now check the picture of the model of the Pine Creek Mine and were all the shafts and tunnels are displayed.  Now look at the middle of the picture and you will see a model of the Empire State Building.  The Empire State Building stands at total of 1,250 feet high without the antenna spire included.  I would say some of the shafts to be over 1,500 feet, and some could be a lot deeper.


Pine Creek Mine Model & Empire State Building Model
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/pinecreekminemodel-1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: DoubleDingo on April 26, 2012, 08:08:12 AM
When I saw the scale model of the mine in the display case, the first thing I did was look to see what those vertical shafts did compared to the horizontal shafts.  I had to try and wrap my brain around that story I heard from him, and seeing the scale model surely allowed me to do so.  I didn't see the Empire State Building in there as a comparison, but that definitely helps to put things in perspective. 

Dig down into the imagination....notice how the layout of the mine kind of looks like the United States of America...only the Florida Pan Handle is huge, and the eastern shoreline (so to speak) isn't as defined as the western shoreline.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 26, 2012, 09:52:56 AM
Few more pictures to share:


Picture of the "Plug" 1/4 mile into the mountain
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/pinecreekmineunderground2-1.jpg)


Large Quartz Vein in the mine.  Check out the size of the Quartz Rocks!
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/QuartzVein-1.jpg)


With the record snowfall - came an Avalanche and the damage it caused on some buildings
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Hawkins%20Album/Thispartoftheminewashitbyaavalache-1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: High Sierra on April 26, 2012, 04:15:05 PM
How big was the avalanche?  Nobody hurt I hope!
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 26, 2012, 05:55:39 PM
Hard to describe but was 6 feet deep and about 120 foot wide but traveled about 1/2 mile!  Nobody hurt but really scared the caretaker who was at the mine site.  As you can see some damage to some of the buildings.  They had some pictures in the visitor's lobby to look at if you take the tour.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: stanbery on April 27, 2012, 03:01:21 AM
That is a very good read.

Thanks for posting it.

Jon
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: flyGirl on April 27, 2012, 08:04:46 AM
Think they would mind if I brought a small hammer and pick to sample the rocks at the large quartz vein! :)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Sierra Girl on April 28, 2012, 07:30:56 AM
Any photos of the mines nearby that were mined and ore transferred using the tram towers?  Thank you. :)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 28, 2012, 09:07:22 AM
There were dozens of mines over the years that were mined to the Pine Creek Tungsten Mill site.  I'll look for photos for the most important and successful mine sites.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 28, 2012, 10:11:36 AM
First one up is Gable Lakes Mine.  The Gable Lakes Trailhead is the trail to the left of the Pine Creek Trailhead.  The trail is tough and in avalanche country.  Very few visit here anymore.  The lakes are pretty but fishless.  The mining done here was mostly manual labor. Large wooden Tram Towers with ore buckets were built to deliver the ore to the “Mine in the Sky” below.


Gable Lakes Trailhead
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/Trail-1.jpg)



Trail to the Gable Mines & Lakes
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/626096-1-1-1.jpg)


Tram Towers next to trail
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/thumbnailaspx-1-1.jpg)



Machinery above #3 Gable Lake
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MachineryGableLakes-1-1.jpg)




We will look at the Brownstone Mines next.





Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: flyGirl on April 28, 2012, 12:14:40 PM
Very interesting read wshawkins.  Keep it coming.  Thanks.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 29, 2012, 08:19:07 AM
Brownstone Mines can be found off the main Pine Creek Trail on a feeder trail on your left.  Brownstone mine was built in the 1920’s and ceased operation in the early 1950’s.  Packers packed out the ore with mules in the beginning, and in the late 30’s wooden Tram Towers were put in to deliver ore to the mill below.  Life of a miner and packer is, and always was, one fraught with danger and hard work. You have to be physically and mentally tough, enjoy living in the wild by yourself for long periods of time.  And for packers, manage sometimes stubborn livestock.


Pine Creek Pass Trailhead
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/PineCreekTrailhead.jpg)



Pine Creek next to trail
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/PineCreek-1.jpg)



Looking back at the Pine Creek Mill
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/PineCreekTrail_1-1.jpg)



Mine Entry
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/TunnelEntrytoMine-1-1.jpg)



Looking out from the mine
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/ViewfromMine-1-1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Sierraslam on April 29, 2012, 08:59:23 AM
Home sweet Home! That's the mine my dad would never let me go near. I always wanted to check it out as a kid. I have a love hate relationship with that trail. I hate hiking up or down that mining road, but when you reach Lower Pine Lake, you feel like you died and went to Heaven. Next stop Pine Creek Pass! Love those pictures!
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Sierra Girl on April 29, 2012, 09:56:44 AM
Really great thread wshawkins!  I love the Gable Lakes Trailhead picture on the log.  I hope you have more to share.  Thanks.   :)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 30, 2012, 08:09:33 AM
Next mine up is the Hanging Valley Mines, located near Lower Horton Lakes and near the top of M. Tom.  There many mines in this area but all fed into the “Pine Creek Tungsten Mill”.  Like most mines in the 20’s and 30’s, packers would haul out the ore using mules.  It was too steep to transfer the ore down the north side of Mt. Tom, so they had to go south by Horton Lakes, where they transferred the ore to trucks.  In the late 30’s, they built a wooden tram system with ore buckets so they can deliver the ore down the steep slopes directly to the mill.

To get to the Hanging Valley Mines, best to hike it from the south side of Mt. Tom at the Horton Lakes Trailhead.  To get there, take Hwy 168 out of Bishop to Buttermilk Rd.  Take Buttermilk west for 6 miles to the Lake Horton turnoff.  For 2 wheel drive cars, this is far as you’re going.  For 4-wheel high clearance vehicles, the trailhead is another mile.  It’s about 4 miles on the miners’ road to the Lower Horton Lakes and the first mining buildings.


Ore Bin.  Packers delivered the oar by mule and fill these bins up.  Trucks would pick-up the oar and deliver it to the mill as needed.
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/hangingvalleyorebin2.jpg)


Miner Cabin #1
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/hangingvalleycabin-1-1.jpg)


Miner Cabin #2 – Both cabins were in good shape
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/Untitled-1-1.jpg)

Lower Horton Lake – Brookies in this lake.
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/HortonLake-1.jpg)


Climbing up 1,000 ft. to the other Hanging Valley mines on Mt. Tom – a lot of scree on the trail.
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/LowerHortonLake-1.jpg)


Near the summit of Mt. Tom and the trail is an old miner’s road.
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MineRoadonMtTom-1.jpg)


First sight of the Upper Hanging Valley Mines
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/HangingValleyMines_1.jpg)


Closer look
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/HangingValleyMine-1-1.jpg)


Mine Shaft
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MineShaft-1-1.jpg)


Tungstar Mine Site – The mining road ends here as this is where they put in the Wooden Tram Towers to deliver the ore to the mill below.
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/TungstarMine-1.jpg)


Diesel Engines
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/DieselEngines.jpg)


Winch Cable – This controlled the tension on the cable for the oar buckets
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/WinchCable-1-1.jpg)


Tram Towers – To deliver the ore to the mill
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/TramTowers-1-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: High Sierra on April 30, 2012, 08:26:57 AM
Amazing wshawkins!  Great story and history of the mining process to get the ore to the mill.  Did you do this in a day hike or backpack trip?
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 30, 2012, 10:09:25 AM
Day hike.  Started about 0730 and back to my truck about 7pm.  It was a full day and did some fishing in the lower Horton Lakes.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on April 30, 2012, 02:15:34 PM
Is there are another way up to Hanging Valley Mine?


You can reach it going up the Gable Lakes Trailhead.  Its 4 miles to the first Gable Lake and another 1 mile to 1 1/2 miles to the mining road on Mt. Tom.  It’s the same mileage for the Horton Lake trailhead.  They’re both bad trails because of the scree along the trail route.  If you’re going, buy the new “scree” hiking shoes/boots.  They do help, as they grip rocks real good.  I bought some for last season.

I would choose the Horton Lakes route as you can fish at these lakes.  Gable Lakes are fishless.  Good luck if you go.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on May 01, 2012, 09:54:55 AM
This is the final piece of this Pine Creek Tungsten Mine story and will focus on the mining on Mt. Morgan/Wheeler Ridge area.  This is where over 90% or more of the mining was done.  Mining started in 1918 and as I said it before, manual labor and mules carried the ore to the mill.  They built a rough trail down to the mill so the packers could deliver the ore on mules.  This was a tough job as this was a year around job.  Some of the miners worked on the highest mine, The Adamson Mine, at 13,000 feet elevation in winter! 

To get to the mines, the miners took “The Gray Bus” through Rock Creek over Morgan Pass to Wheeler Ridge.  The bus ride was not for the week of mind, as this was an E-ticket ride.  Many men did not last the week and quit.  Lot of good stories on this subject in the book, “The Mine in the Sky”.

Things slowly improved.  In the late 30’s, early 40’s they built a wooden trams system from the mines to the mill, so mules were no longer needed.  They also built a tram system from the Adamson Mine down to the lower mines.

Finally, they cored 2 miles through the mountain with 2 thousand feet elevation to the mines in the Wheeler Ridge area.  The tram system was no longer needed.  The electric Mules were used until the mill closed down in the early 2000’s.

There were dozens of mine shafts in this area but most are buried now and the area cleaned up.  When I lasted hiked up this valley, you can still hear the wind whistling through some of the old mine shafts.  The mine shafts that are still there are mostly blocked off solid, so not much to look at today.  But if you walk up to the old jeep road to the top of Broken Finger Peak, Adamson Mine still has some mining equipment and adit to look at.


Ore Bin
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/OreBin-1.jpg)


Mine Entry
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/Mine-1.jpg)


On Broken Finger Peak looking at Mt. Morgan
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/MtMorganontheleftandBrokenFingerontherightpictureofSierras.jpg)


Ore Car at Adamson Mine at 13,000 – “Mine in the Sky”
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Pine%20Creek%20Tungsten%20Mine/AdamsonMine-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on May 07, 2012, 01:14:53 PM
The Brownstone Mines would be my choice for a day hike.  Drive down to the end of Pine Creek Road and park at the trailhead parking.  Take the Trailhead for Pine lakes/Italy Pass and follow the mine road to where it ends at about 2 miles.  The mines are on your left up the hill.  Look at the equipment left lying around and check out the mine entrances if you wish. 

The mine itself has extensive workings and many ladders going down deep, deep down into the mountain.  It is pitch-black inside with some scary deep cored shafts you could fall into.  What I’m trying to say is it can be very dangerous to go deep into the mine and I do not recommend it.  The top floor (The mine entrance) is fine as you will see a tool room, some offices, and locker and shower rooms to browse about.  Bring a flashlight or 2 and maybe a bump hat, as the ceilings are low with piping hazards overhead.  Send me a pm if you need more info.

Also get a early start as the trail is exposed all the way to the mine, can get hot!
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on May 29, 2012, 04:43:08 PM
No, you need to take the Morgan Pass Trailhead which is located at the tungsten mine, which is past the Trailhead parking for Pine Creek Trailhead.  You have to jump a gate in order to start your hike.  After the gate, the switchback road eventually turns into a very steep trail.  At about 3.2 miles, take the cutoff to the right to get to the mines.  But the elevation gain is significant, about 3,000 feet at this point.

Mines are not hard to find.  Most have a barrier blocking the entrances.  When you first enter the canyon, look up to the right and you will first see the Shirley Temple Mine and next to it is the Randolph Scott Mine. Many more movie star mines in the area.   It was very stylish thing to do as movie stars to invest in mines in the 30’s and 40’s.  If you continue about a mile up the canyon you come to the Main Mine Tunnel that goes completely through the mountain to the Pine Creek Tungsten Mill.  At this point you will begin to see what's left of the tram system and ore bins. 

To your right you will see a jeep road that goes to the top of Broken Finger Peak and the Adamson Mine at 13,000 feet.  You will find a lot of mine debris around there, including an open adit or two and ore cars lying about.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: WiseTioga on June 12, 2012, 10:37:03 PM
It seems to me that I remember a bunch of photo posts of a tour inside the mine on the old board. But then maybe I'm having a Sr. Moment or dreaming of another board. Do any of you recall?

WT 
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: sierraslugger on June 14, 2012, 11:26:21 AM
Check out these links to Dave McCoy's web site.
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/70-a-wild-adventure-at-pine-creek-part-1/
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/71-more-from-the-pine-creek-mine-site/
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/72-the-final-images-from-pine-creek/
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: saudust on June 14, 2012, 12:05:57 PM
Thanks for the links, sierraslugger.  Great pictures and fun reading.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: sierraslugger on June 14, 2012, 12:34:06 PM
I forgot about this website. It has pictures of the inside of the mine.
http://www.ripleysghosttowns.com/pinecreekmine.html
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: WiseTioga on June 14, 2012, 09:36:46 PM
Sierraslugger;

Thank you. Those were the posts that I was thinking of.

W.T.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: IW on July 08, 2012, 07:59:43 PM
Great story and pics.   Now I'll have to get out my Mine in the Sky and read it once more.

I exchanged a few e-mails with the author when I first read the book.   He was in Alaska at the time but had been in Bishop and Rock Creek the previous summer.   If I remember correctly his father still lived in the area.

I wonder how many others on this board have DRIVEN to the top of Morgan Pass as I have a couple of times before the road form Mosquito Flats was blasted shut...???   We never ventured down the other side and just walked down to fish.   The back side was gravely and we were afraid we couldn't pull back up from the Pine Creek side with only 2 wheel drive of our 1928 Franklin.   And then we'd have to drive all the way down to 395 and back to Tom's Place and back up the canyon, then a dirt road to the Rock Creek Lake STORE and around the lake and up the old branch of the Sand Canyon Road to our cabin.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: IW on July 14, 2012, 02:39:53 PM
My father, who built our cabin at Rock Creek in 1946, taught Geology.   I went on only one student field trip with him which went into Death Valley.   He had arranged via a geologist friend I believe, to take a trip down into a mine.   He told the half dozen female students who were on the field trip to wear a hat and hide their hair under the hat and to hide their breasts with a binding or a baggy shirt and not to say anything.   

And I remember riding down into the mine and each of us had a hard hat.  I remember how dark it was when they turned off the few lamps on the hard hats for 5 minutes...   

Fortunately none of the miners realized that there were HEAVENS FORBID WOMEN in the mine!    I'm sure that the tunnels all collapsed after we left!!!

Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Mimi McKell on August 10, 2012, 11:57:07 AM
Does anyone know where I can get a copy of "Mine in the Sky"? 
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on August 11, 2012, 11:32:30 AM
I see there is one for sale at The Store @ Rock Creek Lake through Amazon for $999.98.  That’s just crazy and it’s a used book!

http://astore.amazon.com/rockcreeklakecal/detail/1888125349
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Claremont Dude on August 11, 2012, 11:10:55 PM
Does anyone know where I can get a copy of "Mine in the Sky"?

It's available online for $32.95 at the following site:
http://www.qbd.com.au/product/9781888125344-Mine_in_the_Sky_by_Joseph_M_Kurtak.htm
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: tizak on August 21, 2012, 10:11:49 AM
Was at Horton / Tungstar / Mt. Tom first week of August 2012 (third annual trip) and spent time examining much of the abandoned mine equipment. Looks to me like the big engines at the mine site - one 6 cyl and one 4 cyl, both mated to compressors - were gas fueled. Could be wrong but did see a carburetor on the 6 cyl which would indicate a gas fired system. Both had an IR logo on their radiator shrouds which is likely the mark of Ingersoll Rand - makes sense with the compressors involved. The engines are massive and we noted a sled downhill that appeared to have about 8 or 10 drums on and around it. Assumed this was a collection of 55 gal. fuel drums that had been left behind when things were abandoned. Must have been quite a task to get fuel up to the engines in that steep and loose terrain.

Pics from our trip this year:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=tizak820&target=ALBUM&id=5776732496939550081&authkey=Gv1sRgCMT64trf7pXfcg&feat=email
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: tizak on August 21, 2012, 10:22:47 AM
Just found this info on the Tungstar Mine:


Tungstar Mine
http://mineral-resources.findthedata.org/l/8938/Tungstar

Year of First Production:   1939
Discovery Year:              1936
Production Years:      1939 - 1945
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: IW on January 24, 2013, 05:46:44 PM
She was told that she would be the first woman ever to enter the mine!  Some of the miners were very upset about her entering the mine as they were superstitious about a women being in the mine.  She went in anyway!  She thought the year was about 1976.

---------------------------------------
My father, a Geologist teaching at UCSB at the time took me along on one of the twice a year trips with college geology students.   I was probably in 11 th grade at the time which would have been mid 1953 or 54.   There were 5 suburban carryalls and several student cars.   Perhaps 6 or 7 students were women.  The trip was in the Death Valley area.

My father had arranged for us to have a mine tour and warned the women the night before to wrap their upper body tightly enough to hide the fact that they were women and put on a loose sweat shirt or similar and keep in the groups of male students.   They all had to put their hair up and get it under caps and NOT SPEAK during the tour.   Telling them that if found out they'd be tossed out and that women were bad luck in the mine and my father didn't want later field trips to be denied the chance to go into a working mine.

Fortunately they weren't discovered and the tin hats with lamp on them went over the caps and in the dim light it would have been hard to tell that they were women.   I remember we went into the mine in mine carts and then down into lower levels of the mine and for a couple of minutes shut off all our lights to see what real darkness was.   

Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on January 25, 2013, 06:39:58 AM
Because mines were such dangerous places and luck played a large role in the miners’ well-being, a great deal of lore developed around signs of luck, especially bad luck.  One such bit of lore involves women.  In general, women in or near a mine were considered bad luck.  Perhaps this belief arose because historically women only came to the mines in times of tragedy, looking for lost loved ones.  A red-haired woman was considered particularly bad for red-haired women were considered omens of death.  If a red-haired woman enters a mine, there will be a death among the miners within six months.

Mine Superstitions die hard.  IW, good thing nobody noticed the women as that would have really upset the miners!






Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Big Ed on February 20, 2014, 08:30:39 PM
Check out these links to Dave McCoy's web site.
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/70-a-wild-adventure-at-pine-creek-part-1/
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/71-more-from-the-pine-creek-mine-site/
http://www.davemccoyphoto.com/72-the-final-images-from-pine-creek/

I walked up from Pine Creek to Lower Morgan Lake in about 2001, that road was a good pull, it was raining too. Never been up to the mines though, thanks for sharing the pictures. 
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on August 07, 2014, 06:50:32 AM
The gate is locked at the end of the road to the mine.  You’ll need permission to get access.  There is a guard/caretaker who lives there 24/7.  You can access the trails to Wheeler Ridge, Morgan lakes or the Pine Lakes, depending on where you want to go.  But no access to the mine.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: RLBarnes on May 31, 2015, 12:23:59 PM
Just found this site, my grandfather John Crookshank or (Cruickshank) worked in the mine during WWII he came from South Dakota's Homestake Gold mlne in Lead close to Deadwood.
He died at the mine in the sky on December 17th or 18th 1944. He is buried in Bishop cemetery. My mother was a senior at Bishop High school, it was her birthday, her Dad came down for her birthday, and went back up to mine to go on graveyard shift, His partner he worked with found him sitting on bench crew room thought he was asleep. Died of a heart attack.
Sad story, would have liked to have known my grandfather.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: TEX on May 31, 2015, 12:49:57 PM
Welcome RL. I thank you for the insight and also your grandfather for working something worthwhile to give us an opportunity to look into the past. Any other info is eagerly awaiting for.
This is a great place. Info; history and just good people.  Next time in Bishop I'll look him up. I just passed there a week ago.  On a side note, I missed my exit in France and ended up in Italy (my heritage) Got stuck in traffic and turned as soon as I could. Ended up in Buggio. At the end of the road was a cemetery. Gorgeous headstones.  They people were living to be over 100 a hundred yrs ago...
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on June 01, 2015, 06:58:57 AM
Pine Creek Tungsten Mine become one of the world's great tungsten mines.  Pine Creek tungsten supplied much of the defense needs of the United States during World War II and made a substantial contribution to the country's stockpile of strategic metals.  Not too shabby and defiantly something to be proud of that your grandfather contributed to such an important job for the war’s effort.

A help wanted ad I pulled from the Inyo Register archives from the war years to work in the mine.  Very busy time for the mine with over 250 men working the mine during this time period and I’m told that was a decent wage back then.

 
Help Wanted Ad for Pine Creek Tungsten Mine during the War Years
(http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy115/wshawkins/Mine%20in%20the%20Sky_Help%20Wanted_edited-1_zpswzal8gu6.jpg) (http://s783.photobucket.com/user/wshawkins/media/Mine%20in%20the%20Sky_Help%20Wanted_edited-1_zpswzal8gu6.jpg.html)
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: WiseTioga on September 07, 2015, 05:21:33 PM
If anyone is interested I have a 2004 4th. Edition copy of Mine In The Sky in As New Condition that I would be willing to let go for $40.00 + Postage (U.S.P.S. Money Order). These are selling for $60.00 + on Amazon. PM me if interested.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: Gary C. on October 23, 2017, 02:48:53 AM
I saw this video on the HST site and thought it would fit in here nicely. I'm not sure how to put it directly to the site but here is a link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BSDrocE6u4
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: fishpole on October 23, 2017, 07:41:55 PM
More good info thanks Gary C.
Title: Re: The Story of the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Post by: wshawkins on October 24, 2017, 05:54:27 AM
Interesting that they call the transportation into the mine "Man-Trains" while on the tour I took they were called ore cars driven by electric mules.  Thanks for the video.