Masonic Mine, Sierra Nevada, California, United States (2016)

During the California gold rush at the middle of the 19th century hundreds of thousands flocked to the state, mostly up to Sierra Nevada mountains, in search of lucky strike. But the ghost towns & other ruins they left behind were not always as glorious as the golden hopes.

Skeleton Town.jpg
Skeleton Town

The digging continued in many areas after the gold rush with somewhat more humble products like coal & iron ore. This activity also ceased before long and many boomtowns were abandoned. The spots hidden among the mountains were forgotten by everyone but the time itself. It has reveled around the ghost towns that once harbored dreams of great wealth.

Masonic Mine.jpg
Dead End

The past came alive at the same moment I stepped into the realm of former Masonic mine somewhere in the Eastern Sierras. The name of the mine & the adjacent town was due to the population being Freemasons. The town was born at 1870s around gold digging. Most of the mines were closed at the turn of the century, but some of them operated until 1920s.

Shotgun House.jpg
Shotgun House

Now all of the houses of the town had collapsed & the buildings near the mine were also worse for wear.


One old warehouse had rotten so that it had become part of the landscape, almost earth itself.

Little House in the Mountains

Miraculously, the mine itself was still standing. It was a huge wreck, like a skeleton of some extinct species, staggering on feeble legs. I stepped in to the rotten building full of memories.


Some of the old machinery was still there, rusty & heavy like the expired dreams of the gold-diggers.


The leaking building was crisscross of shadows cast by the incessant sun of the high mountains.


From the edge of the partly collapsed mine opened a rugged landscape to the peaks of Sierra Nevada.


When I wandered around the mine, I stumbled upon a shell of an old car. Someone had driven it there years & years ago, but didn’t bother to drive it back after the town was left to the dogs.

Ride Home.jpg

But it wasn’t just time that had reveled around in the abandoned Masonic mine. First of all, the old car was full of bullet holes, probably from later era. And secondly, someone had brought a newer car to the area, capsized it & shot it until it was more like a sieve than a car.


I left the Masonic mine as I found it, in its haunted peace charged with mementos from the forgotten epoch. The high hopes had decayed to rot & rust, but they were still alive – just barely.


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