For this weeks Show Us Your California contest by @socalsteemit I'm going take you to the largest and most profitable gold mine in the San Gabriel mountains...
The Bighorn Mine!!
The Bighorn Mine sits on the steep southeast slopes of Mt. Baden Powell. The gold bearing deposit was first discovered by mountain man Tom Vincent in 1859 while out hunting for Bighorn Sheep. Vincent dug the first tunnel, but without the resources to remove and process all the gold bearing ore, he sold the mine to a mining company. Over the years the mine has been sold and mined several times by several people and lots and lots of gold was pulled from it. Today it is an abandoned relic of the past. But with a short hike into the San Gabriel wilderness it can still be seen and explored to this day!
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So on this trip me and my buddy drove up the Angeles Crest Highway into the San Gabriel mountains to Vincent Gap where our adventure began. We hiked out the old mining road for 2.5 miles to get to the mine. The hike goes in and out of the pine forest providing some shade, but also allowing for spots to enjoy the amazing views of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel high country as well as views way down into the upper reaches of the East Fork where I still personally mine for placer gold to this day! Once at the mine we explored all the old ruins and artifacts left at the old stamp mill. Then we headed inside to explore the mine!!
Views from the stamp mill
Exploring the ruins of the old stamp mill
The old stamp mill from the main entrance to the mine
The main entrance to the Bighorn Mine
Inside the mine
We explored all over the mine! I really wish I had brought a better camera to get more pictures from inside. My GoPro doesn't do well in low light situations. In it's prime the Bighorn mine had over 3,000 feet of tunnels. Now due to cave ins and shafts with broken ladders you can only explore about a 1/3 of that. But that still leaves a lot of fun tunnels to explore! We checked it all out. Every tunnel that didn't require digging out a cave in or rappelling down a shaft got explored. After having fun at the mine we headed back down the old mining road. But on our way back we took a short detour to go checkout the remnants of Tom Vincents old cabin! It's been maintained by forest service and other volunteers over the years but it's truly amazing that it is still standing there!
Arriving at Tom Vincent's cabin
Going inside to check out the cabin
We hung out at the cabin for the rest of the day just enjoying the solitude and being in the forest. Pondering and dreaming about what it must have been like for Mr. Vincent here over 150 years ago! We stayed there until dark and hiked out with our headlights.
The Bighorn mine is just one of many mines in the San Gabriel mountains. Many of which I have explored but most of which I have yet to explore. I find it all so fascinating, all the incredible history here, and am really looking forward to exploring many more gold mines in the future! Stanley-Miller mine, Allison mine, Bluebird mine... I'll see you soon. So, until the next adventure...
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