It’s been 30 years since I last visited the old mining cabin my family and I used to stay in while hunting in the White Mountains.
Not much has changed, accept for me of course. I was only 16 years old when I last ventured this deep into the Whites.
Back in the eighties, traveling up Highway 395 through Big Pine and onto Highway 168 was an annual tradition.
Every Autumn, my father, cousin and other family friends would caravan up into the highest range in the Great Basin…
…and past the oldest living trees in the world, the nearly 5,000 year old bristlecone pines, to reach an isolated old mining cabin that we would live in for the next seven days.
When I finally started to think about revisiting Roberts Ranch, so much time had passed since my last visit that I actually couldn’t even remember how to get back there. After discussing it with my father, who gave me the directions and reassurance that my 2WD Jeep Cherokee could actually reach the cabin, I decided to head back last June.
Roberts Ranch is located halfway between the old silver and gold mining district of White Mountain City near Highway 168 and Schulman Grove in the Bristlecone Pine Forest. The White Mountains are one of the largest and highest desert mountain ranges in North America. They rise abruptly from the desert to elevations in excess of 14,000 feet. The 253,000 acre White Mountains Wilderness area was designated through the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act on March 31, 2009 and is jointly administered by the Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management.
After spending a couple of hours hiking along the trails around Schulman Grove, we headed north along White Mountain Rd until we reached the turnoff to Silver Canyon.
The double pole power line that runs adjacent to Silver Canyon Rd and eventually through Wyman Canyon was constructed in 1905. The 113-mile transmission line was built to carry electricity generated by the hydroelectric power plant located along Bishop Creek to Goldfield, Tonopah, and all the other mining towns that were booming in Central Nevada in the early 1900’s. The Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System was also significant in the history of hydroelectric power generation technology, the development of eastern California, and the development of long-distance power transmission and distribution.
The road to Wyman Canyon starts out at an elevation of 10,500 feet and follows a dirt track down a narrow set of switchbacks before reaching the canyon below. A high clearance vehicle with 4WD is highly recommended, especially after the first 7 miles when the road gets rougher, steeper and starts crossing Wyman Creek in multiple places.
An old cabin made of railroad ties is the first historic structure you’ll see as you descend further into the canyon.
The cabin was most likely built in the early 1900’s during the construction of the power lines.
Besides the ugly graffiti found inside, it remains in fairly decent shape. [Note: Know the facts about hantavirus before heading into any area where you could be exposed to it]
A much smaller, windowless cabin made of corrugated steel sits further down the road.
The road down to Roberts Ranch is rough and rocky, so it helps to have a spotter and road rock remover on board when making the trip.
At approximately 7 miles into the drive, the road opens up into a lush meadow which leads into Roberts Ranch.
Wyman Creek generally remains dry prior to reaching this point.
Two historic mining cabins still stand.
The larger of the two includes a stone smelter, that was once used to process ore from some of the surrounding mines.
Welcome to Roberts Ranch.
The condition of this cabin was never that great to begin with, but it definitely looked worse than what I remembered it looking like 30 years ago.
A view looking out towards Roberts Ridge, where the Wilkerson (gold) and Southbend Mines are located. Other notable mines in the area include the Lincoln (silver), Pine Mountain (gold), Westgard (lead/silver) and the Cottonwood and Crooked Creek Placers.
I found this open vertical shaft back in the eighties. Not sure what kind of condition it’s in now.
Looking out towards Wyman Creek and the cabin we used to stay in.
I was so happy to finally see it again.
Home Sweet Home
The area was so overgrown that I almost didn’t notice the fire pit/grill we used to BBQ on. In the distance is an old horse corral used by Deep Springs College when they run cattle through the area.
This is what the cabin looked like back in 1986.
My family and I repaired a leaky roof during one of our stays and would always try to restore what we could to help preserve it.
It was the least we could do for the place that provided our family with so many great memories over the years. [photo taken in 1986]
Believe it or not, the cabin was actually in better shape now than what it was 30 years ago. All four windows were sealed nice and tight with heavy duty plastic and large window screens have been installed to help keep the insects out.
The original door was also in pretty good shape.
Deep Springs College operates a cattle ranch and 155 acre alfalfa farm in nearby Deep Springs Valley. The ranch keeps about 200 head of beef cattle which graze throughout the valley and in the White Mountains. Staff and students often use the cabin when herding cattle through the area.
The interior of the cabin also looked just as good, if not better than it did 30 years ago.
The table looked almost identical…
…to how it looked back in 1986, however something else in this corner of the cabin definitely got an upgrade.
The newer “wood burning stove” is much nicer than the previous version.
I’m guessing it was donated by someone with the last name of Latham?
The classic 2-seater came in handy back in the day.
Wyman Creek Road (aka Wyman Canyon Road) is rough and sometimes even impassable after Roberts Ranch.
I can’t believe it took me 30 years to make it back to Roberts Ranch. Even though I had to cut my reunion short, I’ll definitely be back for an overnight stay in the future.
It was hard to say goodbye but at least I had views like this to help get me back down to the valley below.