Inside one of Southern California’s largest abandoned mines.

Once we completed touring the exterior of the mine it became apparent that most of the group wanted to venture inside.

Once we completed touring the exterior of the mine it became apparent that most of the group wanted to venture inside. I apologize in advance for the blurriness of some of the photos. It’s dark down there you know.

If there was a huge earthquake I doubt anybody would come looking for us.

If there was a huge earthquake I doubt anybody would come looking for us. Just saying.

Bat bars aren't usually this easy to slip through.

Bat gates aren’t usually this easy to slip through.

Ore cart tracks. All aboard the Big Horn RR.

Ore cart tracks. All aboard the Big Horn RR.

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This mine was much bigger than I expected.

This mine was much bigger than I expected.

The mine was moist, wet and required several water crossings as we descended deeper into it.

The tunnels were moist & wet which required several water crossings as we descended deeper into the mine.

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One of the bigger chambers which was stabilized with old railroad ties

One of the bigger chambers which has been stabilized with old railroad ties.

Old railroad ties smothered in wet, slimy creosote.

Old railroad ties smothered in wet, slimy creosote.

Erc wanted to take everyone to the 'sparkle room' but we first had to squeeze through a tiny little opening. Surprisingly everyone did.

Our guide wanted to take everyone to the ‘sparkle room’ but we first had to squeeze through this tiny little opening.

Sparkle is that you?

Sparkle is that you?

Muddy pyrite (fools gold) found in the 'sparkle room'.

Muddy pyrite (fools gold) found in the sparkle room.

This is how one of the rocks looked after getting all the gunk off of it.

This is how one of the rocks looked after getting all the gunk off of it.

No Mariah Carey in sight.

No Mariah Carey or Sleestaks in sight.

Supposedly there's been a few raves held in here over the years.

Supposedly there’s been a few raves held in here over the years.

Ecstasy

At least they were keeping themselves hydrated.

The Wilderness Land Trust bought the historic Big Horn Mine parcel in December of 2006 from Cherokee Nevada Corp., an independent mining company. The former owners chose to sell to the Trust rather than reopen the mine or pursue a sale to another mining company.

The Wilderness Land Trust bought the historic Big Horn Mine in December of 2006 from Cherokee Nevada Corporation, an independent mining company. The former owners chose to sell to the Trust rather than reopen the mine or pursue a sale to another mining company.

To complicate matters, for years the Big Horn property was bounced back and forth through stages of collateral actions to invest in properties elsewhere.

To complicate matters, for years the Big Horn property was bounced back and forth through stages of collateral actions to invest in properties elsewhere. The Wilderness Land Trust negotiated with the private mining company to buy all of the 277-acre property, and on September 21, 2007 the Trust secured long-term financing for the entire parcel. The rising price of gold made reopening the mine attractive for the Wilderness Land Trust, but once again history was going to repeat itself.

Early tests had revealed that much gold lies deep within the mine’s shafts. However, it is buried deep within hard rock. Even with modern mining methods, it would be a chore to retrieve. Because of this, the Trust had optioned to transfer Big Horn Mine to the United States Forest Service.

Early tests had revealed that much gold lies deep within the mine’s shafts. However, it is buried deep within hard rock. Even with modern mining methods, it would be a chore to retrieve. Because of this, the Trust had optioned to transfer Big Horn Mine to the US Forest Service.

According to the Siskon Corporation confidential report of 1979, Tom Vincent’s Big Horn Mine sure had its heyday. The Big Horn Mine was the largest producer in the mining district. According to production records a total of 5,364 ounces of gold and 2,879 ounces of silver were produced from the entire district. Of this amount, the Big Horn Mine produced 3,701 ounces of gold and 2,430 ounces of silver were produced. It also produced 1,357 pounds of copper.

According to the Siskon Corporation confidential report of 1979, Tom Vincent’s Big Horn Mine was quite successful. It was the largest producer in the mining district and produced a total of 3,701 ounces of gold, 2,430 ounces of silver and 1,357 pounds of copper.

Big Horn still contains an estimated 262,000 ounces of gold — but it’s also a wildlife refuge, and preservation is taking precedence.

Big Horn still contains an estimated 262,000 ounces of gold — but it’s also a wildlife refuge, and preservation is taking precedence. Hopefully it will stay that way.