|Ore Processing Plant in Middle Masonic|
Gold was discovered in this region about 1860. Because most of the miners were Freemasons, it was named the Masonic mining district. However, due to the excitement over the discoveries in both nearby Aurora and Bodie, this more difficult to access region was not fully developed at that time.
In 1900, a sixteen year-old boy from Bodie, Joseph Green, found a rich ledge of gold and filed his claim as the Jump Up Joe Mine. Unfortunately, young Joe did not have the funds to fully develop the mine. He gladly sold it Warren Loose for a good price.
By that time, between the ore found in the Pittsburg-Liberty and the Jump Up Joe, the partners from Pittsburg decided there was enough ore to justify the building of a cyanide stamp mill to separate out the gold. Once it was completed, the new 10-stamp Pittsburg-Liberty Mill powered by a dynamo and equipped electric lights pulverized 30 tons of ore a day and boasted a payroll of 50 men.
Other prospectors soon found other outcroppings of gold above and below the original site of Masonic. Each area acquired a cluster of cabins. The town, originally called Lorena, soon developed into a community of three sections, Upper Town, Middle Town and Lower Town.
|10-Stamp Pittsburg-Liberty Mill|
|Structure in Middle Masonic|
"Over 50 couples tripped the light fantastic to the excellent strains of the Bodie Orchestra.
Supper was served in the Jeffrey Hotel."
|Note flattened tin from cans used to insulate log homes.|
Even without the gunshots found in Bodie, Masonic was not a quiet place to live with the stamp mill. Unfortunately, between lawsuits, mill breakdowns, rising shipping costs, declining gold prices, and the depletion of ore in the mines, the town started into decline in 1911. By 1950, the town and its mines were abandoned.
|Tramway from Upper Mines|
|Pile of discarded tin cans litter hill above Middle Masonic|
Since the cyanide plant for processing the gold ore was in Middle Masonic, the upper mine built a tramway to transport their ore down to the plant.
A loading chute for ore brought from other mines was located just before you get to Masonic.
|Chemung Mine Ruins|
On the way to Masonic is the Chemung Mine and Mill located at 8,000 at the base of Masonic Mountain. Founded in 1909, it was never a consistent producer. However, endless legal wrangling kept business tied up in litigation for years. Before it was all resolved, gold mining in the region had become unprofitable for all the mines.
Local legend claims a deranged ghost haunts the mine, but only takes offense if visitors show up on Saturday nights.
Masonic is located in a remote region infused with pockets of beauty surrounded by the mountain ranges that straddle California and Nevada east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
|View of the Mountains surrounding Masonic|
The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available.
The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
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