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Monday, February 20, 2017

Gorilla Gold Mine

In the town of Lundy that served the many men employed in the mines in the mountains flanking Mill Creek Canyon, the May Lundy Mine and its accompanying Mill Works were the elephant in the town. However, there was also a Gorilla in town.

Gorilla Mine stock mentioned
A minor detail in my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series involved this mine. After Beth Dodd discovers her scoundrel of a husband died just before she arrived in Lundy, as part of settling his estate, she discovered that he held some mining stock in a few of the area’s mines. One mine was the Gorilla Mine. The judge helping settle her probate comments to her it is fortunate she has stock in the Gorilla as opposed to the May Lundy Mine. Even in early 1884, there were some rumors that the May Lundy was in trouble and the process of selling to overseas buyers. However, the Gorilla, although smaller, was solid.
Map of Gorilla Mine location. The long narrow lake is Lundy Lake. The town of Lundy is between the lake and mine.

The big success story of the miners in Mill Creek Canyon was the Gorilla. The Gorilla Mine was located on the South side of Mill Creek Canyon not far from the May Lundy Mine, The owners were A. Maestretti, J.F. Murray, J.W. Matthews, Wm. Miller and James McCallom (Guerrilla), January 29, 1881.
Mt. Scowden on cover
The mine was located above the town of Wasson, west of the Homer M.&M. Co. holdings, on the south canyon wall above the Mocking Bird mine.  It was not far from the May Lundy Mine. All of these mines were on the north slope an arm of Mount Scowden that was situated east to west. This mine was not located until January 1881, the lucky owners being J.W. Matthews, J.F. Murray, James McCallum and William Miller. Peter Tautphaus bought into the mine in the summer of 1881, and started of a long association with the Lundy Reduction Works.

The mine was a producer from the beginning, with the ore packed to Lundy to be worked. Mineralization is hosted in hornblendite and granite. Gold was the only valuable mineral mined.
Approximate location of Gorilla Mine. Trees in meadow of former Wasson town site.
*** I interrupt this blog post for a tale of serendipity ***

During my internet search, I was unable to find a photo (public domain or otherwise) of the Gorilla Mine. However, in Mr. Patera's book he included his 1990 black and white photo of the mountain and described the approximate location of the 
Gorilla Mine.
I went back through the photos I took of the Mill Creek Canyon and surrounding mountains in the fall of 2015. It was almost as if I had taken the same shot as Mr. Patera, except mine had more trees in the foreground. And, my photo is in color.

*** End of serendipity tale *** 

The mine was worked by two tunnels employing six miners the first winter. The lower tunnel was in 290 feet on February 18, 1882, working a three foot vein of ore. In the summer of 1882 a track was laid in the tunnel and ore was moved by an ore cart.
gold ore in quartz rock
In 1883 the Gorilla became the second mine in the district to construct a tramway to lower ore to Wasson and from there to transport it by wagon to the reduction works. By this time the mine was producing 50 tons of ore per day.
Not a tram around Lundy, but similar to what they built.
In June of 1884 the company installed a Planet quartz mill. The local newspaper, the Homer Index, on July 12, 1884 published: “The outlook for the Gorilla M.&M. Co. was never so flattering as at the present time…. The bullion shipments are now as regular as those of the May Lundy…”

The Gorilla production remained strong and shipments of bullion continued even after the fail of Lundy as a town. By that time, workings include underground openings comprised of 3 tunnels, reported in 1888 to be 270, 340 and 412 feet long, plus a 386 foot deep shaft. As of October, 1884, the Index reported, “…bullion shipments are regular.”  At the end of 1886, mine foreman, Henry Miller, was killed in an accident at the mine. That effectively ended the operations. The mine produced $61,773 in five years of operation.

In May, 1887 the mine was leased to Fred Schwartz and Harry Sullivan. There was a small production in 1887. No other production record found, and since then the Gorilla Mine has remained idle.

Patera, Alan H., Lundy; Western Places, Lake Grove, Oregon: 2000
Western Mining History:

You may find the book descriptions and purchase links to all five Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 books currently published by CLICKING HERE.


  1. Love this post. So full of information. (It was cool that you had the photo! Made it even more real)


  2. I was giddy as I read your serendipitous moment with your photo. How wonderful was that? *grin* Mining played such a huge part in the settling of the West. California had the '49ers, and Colorado had the '59ers. There are so many story possibilities that it boggles my mind trying to come up with viable plots for all my kernels of 'story-starters'. Best of luck with your Eastern Sierra Brides stories. I've enjoyed each one.

  3. I liked your picture of the Gorilla Mine. It's really kind of pretty. Good thing you went there and got that shot.
    I have never heard of the Gorilla Mine until now. Wonder why they named it the "Gorilla" mine? $61, 773 doesn't seem like much money in today's terms, but I'm certain it must have seemed a fortune then. This was certainly an interesting article. I liked the picture of that big ol' contraption.
    I want to wish you great success with A RESSURRECTED HEART, and all the Sierra Bride stories. All the best to you...

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I have many pics of the gorilla mine and you can still hike there if you know where to go. I tried to upload them but its not working. theres still an ore cart in it to this day !!its fabulous