Mining was the key that unlocked the treasure chest
of the Eastern Sierra. Vast deserts on three sides and an immense
mountain barrier on the other kept white men away from the native
Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe settlements until relatively late in
California's History. But the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver
ore in 1858, east of Lake Tahoe, changed that overnight. Prospectors
from the gold fields on the west side flooded east across the Sierra
to the Comstock. Rich gold and silver discoveries at Aurora and Bodie
fueled the rumors and dreams of many and kept these prospectors searching
for their lucky strike.
prospectors hunting for the Lost Cement Mine organized the Lakes Mining District
on Mineral Hill near Lake Mary in 1877. The following year, General George
Dodge of Civil War and Union Pacific fame bought the group of claims and organized
the Mammoth Mining Co.
News that the company was running four tunnels into Mineral Hill and constructing a tramway and 20-stamp mill, and rumor that this was the "largest bonanza outside Virginia City, "sparked a short-lived rush to the Mammoth gold mines. Over a thousand people flocked to Mammoth City the summer of 1878 and perhaps 1,500 the next. The prospectors followed these old paths, as did the teamsters, cattlemen, merchants, and suppliers who came after them. They also broke many new trails to the mining camps. In time, the steady march of horses' hooves and ironclad wagon wheels widened some of the trails into rough wagon roads. Many of our roads today follow these old routes. When the bonanza did not materialize, the Mammoth Mining Company shut down its mill early in 1889, company stock became worthless, and the property sold at a sheriff's sale. Just a few years later, in 1888, H.A. Whiteing reported that "...half a dozen prospectors are all that now remain of a population estimated at fifteen hundred souls in 1879."
Only a few caretakers stayed to protect the properties that were here during the winter. Those few received mail and supplies by dogsled. Mammoth became a quiet and remote area until the completion of a modern highway in 1937. The camping, hiking, fishing and dynamic beauty of the area made it a sportsman's paradise. The area developed quite a reputation as a summer retreat. Mammoth got its name from the mining era, Mammoth Mining Co. In the 1990's, a different breed of pioneer discovered Mammoth. They were looking for riches that lay in the enjoyment of the Eastern Sierra. Fishing, hunting, photography, camping, hiking, horseback riding were what drew the summer visitors to Mammoth and with them came the businesses to support them.
MAMMOTH LAKES TODAY
The large meadow area bordering Mammoth Creek
is to this day known as Old Mammoth, through the small village that
was there disappeared long ago. Here were the beginnings of today's
High Sierra resort, Mammoth Lakes- popular in winter for Mammoth Mountain's
superb ski slopes and popular in summer for camping, hiking and fishing
in the magnificent, wild backcountry.
The beginnings of Old Mammoth are hazy, but there is no doubt
at all that the life of the small village in the meadow ended abruptly with
completion of a modern highway to Mammoth in 1937. Branching off from Hwy
395 near Casa Diablo, it follows a very different route into Mammoth, north
of the old road, and then swings up into the Lakes Basin in long, gradual
curves. In order to survive, the village literally picked it self up and relocated
astride the new highway, near the junction of the Old Mammoth Road and Hwy
The name McCoy is synonymous with Mammoth Mountain ski resort history
skiing. Dave McCoy's enthusiasm for the two has never wavered. Since his first
rope tow at Grays Meadow west of Independence prior to 1936 and then his progression
to Bishop, McGee Mountain, and Mammoth Mountain, his advance has been stead,
forward and determined, despite the ups and downs.
It is said that people "come for the winter, but stay for
the summer" in Mammoth. Mild breezes, sparkling lakes and streams, as
well as cobalt blue skies beckon explorers to experience the true
Eastern Sierra. Fishing, horseback riding, golfing, offloading, camping and
mountain bike on more than 60 miles of single-track trails are but a few of
the many diversions and adventures awaiting you this visit and for many visits
to come. Mammoth Facts
The Town of Mammoth Lakes, Intrawest Corporation, Starwood,
and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area are in the midst of a true Renaissance.
In the next decade, planned capital investments will exceed $1 billion (U.S.) to
create world class amenities, and new pedestrian village, and new on-mountain attractions
that will launch Mammoth Lakes to become the #1 four-season premier
mountain resort in North America. Join us in the Celebration of Life in the Mountains!