August 04, 2016

Photo Essay: Bristlecone Pine Cabins at the Deserted Mexican Mine

One of the tangental walks you can take from the Visitors Center at Schulman Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is the Bristlecone Cabin Trail to the Mexican Mine Site.

If you walk slowly enough, and don't make too much noise, a bird might come and land on a nearby branch.

He might sing to you, or he might pose for you, too.

But you can't linger too long in the trees, because in the clearing ahead, the cabins made of both limber and bristlecone pine await.

There was a time when these pine trees were well sought-after for building materials to make log cabins, doors, and furniture because of how sturdy the wood is.

Now these trees are protected and can't be legally chopped down—and even the fallen ones seem to take up permanent residence wherever they land.

But back in 1863, when this area was adjacent to a place called "Reed Flat," nothing kept miners looking for silver from setting up camp here.

Reed silver miners came up more or less empty-handed, but some lead and zinc was found here—and that was a boon to the Mexican Mining Company.

The Carson City, Nevada-based company bought the Reed mine with stars in their eyes and huge development plans.

But they didn't account for the brutal winters there—10,000 feet above sea level, in frigid temperatures.

And they didn't find much ore to extract, either.

So while they'd dug 400-foot shafts by hand at two different mine sites, they abandoned the whole thing in the early 1950s (which coincides with when the Navy set up nearby to conduct high altitude field tests of the heat sensors of infrared-seeking missiles).

They quite simply flew the coop...

...and started prospecting elsewhere.

Fortunately, the site has been turned into public land and preserved, although it hasn't been stabilized.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Photo Essay: Dead Wood
High Enough
Heal Thyself
Life Through the Lens
Photo Essay: Ghost Towns of Death Valley

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