Mining in Long John Canyon, Inyo Mountains

Mining in Long John Canyon, Inyo Mountains
Long John Canyon provides amazing views of the Sierra Nevada and Mount Whitney.

Mining in Long John Canyon, located in the Inyo Mountains of California, has a rich history that reflects the broader trends in mining across the Western United States, especially during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Inyo Mountains were part of the larger mining booms that occurred in nearby areas such as Cerro Gordo and the more famous Death Valley region. These booms were primarily driven by the discovery of valuable minerals such as silver, lead, gold, and even borax.

Long John Canyon, specifically, attracted prospectors and miners due to its geological formations which were conducive to the deposition of various ores. Mining activities in the canyon likely included small-scale prospecting, tunneling, and the establishment of claims similar to those seen in other parts of the Inyo Mountains.

There is little detailed historical record specifically concerning Long John Canyon, which suggests that while mining was present, it did not reach the scale or significance of its neighboring locales. Today, remnants of such mining activities are still be visible in the form of abandoned mine shafts, adits, decaying equipment, and scattered debris, offering a glimpse into the rugged life of miners who once hoped to find fortune in the Inyo Mountains.

Overall, the story of mining in Long John Canyon is a minor footnote in the larger narrative of mining in the region, illustrating the transient yet impactful nature of this industry, which shaped not only the landscape but also the economic and social fabric of the regions it touched.

We wanted to hike and parked around here, but you can drive all the way to the fork at 4,700'.
The first mine you'll encounter is the Black Warrior Mine at 4,800'. There are a few adits and this small blasted out area. Note the drift about 60' up the wall. There are some good specimens of galena around here.
Adit of the Black Warrior Mine. Explore at own risk.
This one didn't have much depth, but the floor was very clean and the rock seemed competent.
A chunk of local ore.
Waste rock at the lower workings of the Black Warrior Mine.
Another adit at the Black Warrior, the square set timbering for the portal is starting to collapse allowing that pile of sand to form. This is not a safe adit to enter.
Looking further back past the collapse.
Past the Black Warrior Mine the old road becomes less pronounced as it passes through a narrowish slot.
You'll eventually reach a spring that has some good plant growth around it. Springs like this were critical for livestock and travel in the mountains back when this area was mined. The trail climbs up towards those spires in the background and crosses through the pass in the right quarter of the photo.
Some old refuse around the spring.
From the spring follow busted up old mining road that zigs and zags up the hillside towards the 6,400' level.
If you start finding the large quartz veins the prospectors were following, you'll know you're on the right track.
The quartz here is heavily mineralized.
Looking back down the road with a stunning view of the Sierra Nevada and the Alabama Hills.
A malachite bearing vein means copper is here. This is the start of the Northstar Mine property.
A short prospect under the malachite vein with unblasted drill holes and core sample holes in the face.
Looking out from the prospect at the air and water line infrastructure.
A deeper adit at the Northstar. There's a shaft marked on the topo above this adit, but we couldn't find it.
A beautiful Gardner-Denver air compressor. The road is so degraded, it's stuck here forever.
Close up on the motor and compressor. It's in amazing condition given it's at 6,600' in the mountains.
Close up on the spec plate.
Close up on the compressor spec plate.
The motor itself was a Catepillar.
The gauge panel.
The air reservoir was the only spec plate I could find a date on - built in 1952.
The radiator. Notice the hand crank starter.
Rail for the underground tracks.
An old claim marker.
Some really amazing rock formations up here.
One of the incredibly rugged side canyons.
Some nice lenticular clouds on the way out.