Author Topic: Great Sierra Mine  (Read 11903 times)

wshawkins

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Great Sierra Mine
« on: December 04, 2012, 08:23:39 AM »
Great Sierra Mine




The “Great Sierra Mine”, also known as Dana Village or Dana City, is now a Historic Site that preserves the site of the largest mining operation in what would become later known as “Yosemite National Park”.  The mine and village are located near the top of Tioga Hill on the crest on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, one of several claims intended to work the Sheepherder lode.  The Sheepherder lode was first discovered in 1860 from a prospecting party consisting of a lawyer, a sea captain, a surveyor, a dentist and a professor who traveled into the Tioga Pass area.  1860 party was camped at Lake Jessie (called Tioga Lake today) when “Doc” George Chase discovered the Sheepherder Lode.


As they were leaving, “Doc” George Chase, left a flattened tin can on Tioga Hill on which he had scratched a location notice with his knife, but none of the prospecting party ever came back to work the claim.  Was not until 1880, when the Sheepherder Lode was rediscovered by shepherd Thomas Brusky, hence the name “Sheepherder Lode”, who staked a number of claims in the area.  In 1881 all of the claims were bought out by the Great Sierra Consolidated Silver Mining Company and who they established the company towns of Dana and Bennettville.


Encouraged by essay reports showing high values of silver and gold, the company expanded on its activities in Dana.  Among with the original cabins built for the miners, the company built a large shaft house, gallows frame, large boarding house, carpenters shop, black smith shop and an office.  The gallows frame could be seen all the way from the Lundy trail at the head of Lake Canyon!


Due to the 11,000 foot altitude, working the mine year around proved very difficult and sometimes dangerous.  On November 19, 1881 proved to be one of those days.  Explosion in the shaft house left four men injured and several buildings destroyed.  They were thawing out frozen nitro-glycerin by the stove for the next shift when it exploded.


They continued working the main mine shaft until May of 1882, when the main shaft was mined down to over 100 feet through mostly solid granite.  Management decided to change strategy and relocate to the bottom of the hill at Bennettville and start a horizontal tunnel westward towards the Great Sierra Mine where the Sheepherder Lode was projected to be at.  Dana was soon abandoned.


Today, half a dozen stone cabins, a powder house and a blacksmith shop still remain. The mine shafts can still be seen and have collapsed or been mostly filled in.  A visit today starts near the Tioga Pass entrance station and entails a hike of 1.8 miles one-way and approximately 850 feet climb to the Great Sierra Mine and Dana Village.


Good and recommended article that covers this mine and village is the “Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard”.   The Yosemite Museum located in Yosemite Valley also offered an exhibit this summer that covered the Great Sierra Mine and Dana Village with some nice old photos on display.



Photo from the 1950’s showing a Gallows Frame with a Wooden Capstan.
Photo courtesy of Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard




Photo from the 1950’s of the Powder House
Photo courtesy of Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard




Photos from my October 2012 trip of the Great Sierra Mine and Dana Village



Miners Cabin




View out of the window of the Miners Cabin




Shaft House




Powder Room




Adit















« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 12:11:59 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Claremont Dude

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Re: Great Sierra Mine
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 01:42:18 PM »
Great history lesson. And WOW, what a view the miners had looking out the cabin window!

Thanks for the history & pictures.

 :twothumbs:
"Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."- Henry David Thoreau

wshawkins

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Re: Great Sierra Mine
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 02:25:29 PM »
Yeah, that's what you call a million dollar view! 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 12:09:31 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Oha Ridge

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Re: Great Sierra Mine
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 08:48:17 AM »
"They were thawing out frozen nitro-glycerin by the stove for the next shift when it exploded. " Gotta love those early miners!

Many years ago I stumbled across a very well built pack trail that once connected The Great Sierra Mine with Bennettville. I have to see if I can find a copy of the Ghost Mines of Yosemite, sounds great!

wshawkins

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Re: Great Sierra Mine
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 09:49:43 AM »
True story.  You can still see the burnt marks where the explosion took place.

The old pack trail is still there, just hard to see.  You can see it best from the Bennettville mine site area best.  Its one of them old trails that you can see best from a distance but up-close it gets lost!  Here is a recent picture of the switchback trail.


Trail to Dana Village
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Zoner

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Re: Great Sierra Mine
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2017, 10:16:06 PM »
Great history lesson. And WOW, what a view the miners had looking for the bathmate out the cabin window!

Thanks for the history & pictures.

 :twothumbs:

I'd pay good money for that view.

Thanks for posting these amazing pics.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 04:26:01 AM by Zoner »