Following in "Shorty" Harris' Footsteps (Part 3)

 ("Exterior of the old bunkhouse at the east end of the Inyo Mining Camp." All photographs courtesy Jim Fagan. Photos are copyrighted cannot be reproduced or reused without permission.)

Here's more written and visual history of southeastern California's Inyo Mine from Jim Fagan, our resident mining historian and photographer who continues to follow old-time prospector "Shorty" Harris' footsteps.

("View from the interior of the old bunkhouse.")

 ("Old ore bin at the mouth of the main shaft. When the mine closed it was full of gold ore but it's empty now...probably the result of decades of souvenir hunters.")

 ("The mine's ore bin seen from the mouth of the main shaft. You can see the bent remnants of the metal ore cart tracks from the mine.")

  ("Two exterior views of the mine's main shaft. At one time it was over 700-feet long. I can attest to at least 200 feet...that's as far as I got after leaving my good flashlight in the car at the bottom of the hill and trying to use my iPhone's light.")

"Disclaimer:  Poking around in these old abandoned mines is not a particularly good idea (actually, it’s a pretty bad one). Most are not very well braced and the quartzite is extremely shatter-prone and not very stable."

 ("Interior of the main shaft.")

            ("The next shaft up the ridge from the main Inyo Mine camp.")
Once again, I commend Jim Fagan on his avocation of documenting old mine sites like the Inyo Mine. We desperately need these sorts of visual records of our mining legacy here in the West, much of which has been plundered, vandalized, or torn down and reclaimed. Shorty would be proud, methinks...

Thanks Jim.

(c) Jim Fagan (for Bedrock Dreams) 2013, 2014

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014


  1. Jim, More and more, these old mines are being sealed shut by blasting them or welding iron bars over them. I can understand the need to "idiot poof" them for safety reasons, but it is a ashame to loose any part of history like that. Have you ever heard of the Salmon River cave man, Dugout Dick? He died here a few years ago,and the BLM blasted his tunnels. He was an old miner that moved here in 1948. He had dug many mine tunnels with nothing more than a hammer,chisel,and a wheel barrel. I don't think he ever found much gold,but when he gave up on one of his tunnels he would seal it off using car windshields and parts, then rent it out to folks down on their luck to live in. I met him back in 1991 when I was working for a nearby ranch. If you get a chance, look it up. I know you would find it interesting. He was in National Geographic Magazine, on TV,and many others places. Dick was proud of that and considered himself a celebrity. There were a lot of folks that thought he was just an old bum, but he was much more than that. He was entirely self sufficient, growing his own food and living the way he wanted to live. He was one of the last of the "Old West" hermits. "our" Government will never allow another like him. I am proud to say he was my friend. Gary

    1. Gary, I suspect that the reason the shafts are still open at Inyo is because the camp is well off the beaten tourist path and it's not well publicized, unless you've done a little more in-depth research on the Valley than the normal visitor. I spent an entire morning there in November and had the whole place to myself. Conversely, all the shafts I explored at Leadfield, just off Titus Canyon Road, were sealed with steel bars. That's a much more accessible and visited area. Next trip I'm going to try to hit the Skidoo mines in the Panamints. It's somewhere between Inyo and Leadfield in popularity so it'll be interesting to see what they've done there.

  2. That's an interesting story there about "Dugout" Dick. I admire those sorts of true individuals who go it their way 150%. But no, the government and society at large are always trying to suppress any sort of individuality for fear that sort of thinking will spread. Can't have that, can we? Not when sheep are needed. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. J.R.


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