Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Intro

The Cardinal Mine, located on the North Fork of Bishop Creek just above the settlement of Aspendell, is a fascinating relic of gold mining in the Eastern Sierra. It is easily accessible from the Cardinal Village Resort and offers insight into the hardship and heroics of the men and women who shaped the early development of this ‘golden state’.

The history of mining in California is long and legendary. It all started with the discovery of gold near Sacramento in 1848. By 1849 the ‘California Gold Rush’ was in full swing and prospectors were scouring the entire region. It was soon evident that most of the richest gold deposits were in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges. Thousands of mining claims were established and a few fortune seekers achieved their dreams, but the majority worked hard just to sustain a meager living.

By 1855 the rush by individuals to prospect for gold and other minerals slowed dramatically. Prospecting and mining continued throughout California and, as more deposits were discovered deeper underground, more sophisticated and more expensive equipment was needed to extract the ore.

In 1885 gold was found at the North Fork of Bishop Creek and the Bishop Creek Mining District was officially formed in 1886. Cardinal Mine began from a small claim by two brothers, Felix and Charles Meyerson, who found gold near the headwaters of the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek in 1890. They called it the “Tip Top” mine and worked the claim for 5 years. In 1895 the mine was sold to a consortium of investors from New York City. For the next 10 years, limited mining activity took place, but in 1905 the company was fully formed as the “Bishop Creek Gold Company” with a capital stock of 5-million dollars. In 1906, a man whose name is synonymous with Southern California’s economic development, Henry Gaylord Wilshire, became the company’s secretary/treasurer. He began extensive development of the mine.

News of Bullion from Gaylord Wilshire. (click on image to see the PDF of the full announcement)

What Makes It Great

The mine was a large, impressive operation in its day. Deep shafts were drilled and tunnels dug under the cliff comprised about 4,000 feet of excavation underground. The main shaft went vertically into the earth for 100 feet and a further 500 feet was dug at an incline. Other shafts were drilled higher up the ridge. Numerous tunnels extended at various levels from the shafts with the longest tunnel, at 200 feet below the head of the main shaft, extended for 1,400 feet – completely under North Lake!

The entire operation from extracting the ore from the earth, to crushing, milling, grinding, concentrating, and adding chemicals to produce the gold slurry, which was then drained, dried and bagged was all done on site. The resulting 125lb bags of quality gold bearing supply were shipped to the smelters in San Francisco. It was an adventurous operation in a very remote and geographically challenging setting.

This complex operation required hard-working and courageous people. The village that was built and maintained by the company and its workers was known to be like one big family.

Some remnants of this famous and once-profitable mine are still visible and accessible by a short trail from Cardinal Village Resort. A few of the original village structures have been restored and are now used as the guest cabins at the resort.

Who Is Going to Love It

The area is especially great for families with kids of all ages. The opportunity to explore and learn about the past and how it has shaped our present is great for all enquiring minds. It is the perfect place for anglers to pass on their passion and knowledge of fishing to the next generations of outdoor enthusiasts. And, it is a wonderfully secluded spot for lovers and nature lovers to share a few golden moments together.

In his own publication, the Wilshire Magazine, Wilshire called the mine the “World’s Greatest Mine” and declared that the “Tip Top” claim was a “mountain cliff of solid ore.” Under Wilshire’s direction the company made extensive improvements to the property to house and support miners and their families. New mining equipment and technologies that were state-of-the-art at the time were constructed and installed. Wilshire also incorporated a separate milling company and further development of the property was made so that the ore extracted here was processed onsite.

The mine was closed down on many occasions for issues ranging from heavy winter snowfall to seasonal flooding to a charge of stock fraud against Wilshire, a charge that was subsequently withdrawn. Unfortunately, Wilshire was never able to fully realize his dream of making the mine profitable and, after his death in 1927, the mine was put into receivership. It was leased briefly to the Consolidated Metals Corporation, which also undertook considerable development of the property. They were also unable to make a profit and the mine was sold to the Cardinal Gold Mining Company in 1933.

The mine continued to produce for 5 years – this time at a profit. In its last eight months of operation, from Jan to Aug of 1938, the mine yielded 536lbs of gold, 155lbs of silver, and 4,395lbs of copper. It was considered to be one of the ten leading producers of gold in California during this period. In the total time of mining, the Wilshire Bishop Creek / Cardinal Gold Mine grossed about $1,600,000 in gold.

The mine was considered to be extremely safe. All the management was committed to safety, and equipment was continually updated with some of the best available in the industry at the time. The working conditions were always good and employees were paid above average wages. It was agreed that it was one of the most scenic places to live and work.

It is still an incredibly beautiful place to visit and stay for a few days. The Cardinal Village Resort pays tribute to these long-ago miners and their families, and the area has some of best hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing and photography opportunities in the Eastern Sierra.

Best Season

Fall is undoubtedly the loveliest season here. The changing colors of the forest, with sparkling blue lakes, and high craggy mountains that surround them is picturesque beyond belief. Spring is exciting too, as the melt produces tumbling waterfalls that cascade down the ravines. Exploration on foot is especially nice in summer and this is a perfect place to escape the heat of the valley floor.

Winter is picture postcard perfect. Access to the lakes at the head of each fork of the creek is not possible by vehicle, but snowshoeing is definitely a great family outing on a crisp and bright winter day. The holiday season brings Santa and Mrs. Claus out to Cardinal Village Resort and family fun activities are extra special at this mountain resort.

Directions. Parking. Regulations.

Getting to Cardinal Village Resort is a lovely 20-minute drive from Bishop along US 168 West (West Line St.) to the settlement of Aspendell. Turn right at Cardinal Rd and follow the signs to Cardinal Village Resort.

Ask for your ‘Secret Map’ when you get there and go exploring up the canyon and see what you can find. It’s also a great spot for coffee, breakfast, and lunch. The wood-fired pizza dinner evenings on Fridays and Saturdays during summer and fall are a special treat, and reservations are required.

If your adventure takes you up to Cardinal Mine please leave everything the way you find it so that others may enjoy this walk through history. You can take plenty of photos. Be careful. Stay safe.

Pop into the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main St. or call us on (760) 873-8405 to get more information on this amazing place and many more in the Eastern Sierra.

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

19 hours ago

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000' peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!
... See MoreSee Less

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000 peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. https://www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen 
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!

Comment on Facebook Who loves to get up ...

I went up to 12,500 at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, N.M. My head nearly exploded.

Yep. I feel so amazing in high altitudes.

Very well done. I’ve never been over 12,000 and that just about ended me.

Why cant we post pics on this site anymore?

Been there a couple of times. Better than Whitney

Congratulations!

BEAUTIFUL

I like those kinds of places. You can get a natural high. I think I've been there before. Hope to get back there soon. <3

Badassery

Great photo! Looking great @ 14k+ ❤️

Definitely has a great view

...would have done it 40 years ago

How come females look so good after bagging a peak, but guys look tuckered out?

Mammoth parade starts at 11:00

Always head up to Whites Mountain for Ancient Bristol Cone Forest.

Awesome

Been up there.

My friend Jack McBroom from Hemet climbed the highest 14 peaks on California in about four and a half days. Not sure that is still the record but I know it was for awhile. Sports Illustrated did an article about him.

Hayden Pester adding this to our list

View more comments

2 days ago

In case you need to do a little reflecting today....

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance
... See MoreSee Less

In case you need to do a little reflecting today.... 

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix  
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance

Comment on Facebook In case you need to ...

So beautiful California gold 😊😊❤❤

Reflection pix are my fav 🤩

Oh my, unimaginable beauty! Stunning!

Beautiful

So where exactly is this lake?

Just amazing!

Beautiful

Incredible!

See you there 4ofjuly

Can’t wait to get back up there!

I love it!

I like that you can go there even when you aren't on a Honeymoon. Even single folks go there. <3

So which side is up? Lol Great shot 👌!

Maayan Damti

Gorgeous.

Can't wait for August 1st will be there a whole week

Absolutely beautiful

Sharp knife and a shave! Awesome.

That water is like glass!

How beautiful

Hot creek. Much good for skin! Be respectful of native americans!!!!

Amazing

Hopefully we'll be able to go up there Labor Day weekend.

View more comments

3 days ago

The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen
... See MoreSee Less

The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen

Comment on Facebook The night sky here ...

Amazing! Don't see this very often!

The stars at night are beautiful. Miss them

Just beautiful. One of many reasons I love going there

Just spent 3 days there. Beautiful as always.

Missed my annual trip this past Memorial Day weekend, the beautiful Eastern Sierras Lake Sabrina South Lake etc were always so peaceful & tranquil to visit!

Absolutely amazing 😉

So beautifulth thanks for sharing 😊😊❤❤

13 days..... I We’ll be there!!!!

South Lake

This is at bishops??

View more comments

6 days ago

Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!
... See MoreSee Less

Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!

Comment on Facebook Happy Friday!! ...

Beautiful!! I wish I would be there!!

Such breath taking beauty! I so 💙 the Sierra's, and have many awesome memories of my times there. Thanks for sharing! 🌞

I love second lake especially for the view of temple crag

Just magnificent!

Great picture love Bishop

I wish the same as you Mary!

Was up there last week. Weather was perfect. Hiked up to Chickenfoot while I was there.

Still having earthquakes?

Been there! Beautiful!

Wonderful picture

Spent fathers day week there

Love the Sierras.

Beautiful!

Remember doing this hike. Gorgeous

So beautiful

Headed that way soon! 🏕

Beautiful

Sure hope to get there soon.

Very peaceful setting.

Breathtaking

Beautiful

What a godly view. On the hwy. drive you can see Snow on top of Mount Whitney mountains, so awesome during in month of June when its hot

Mt. Sill ! Sally Spear Molé. Stephen Busch . Do remember climbing this mountain Stephen ? That was an adventure !

I used to live in the town of Big pine many years ago

I wish !!!

View more comments

7 days ago

We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings! #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings!  #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop

Comment on Facebook We love seeing folks...

Thank you for doing your part. Just get used to it, we're in it for the long haul. It doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution. I would.

Best little town in the West. I hope you're all hanging in there. Stay safe so I can visit this fall!

I love Bishop because of it’s proximity to Death Valley and the Sierras. On a motorcycle!

A family hiking out in the mountains on a warm summer day..... with masks on. This has to be the stupidest photo on FB all day.

Ah, wearing a mask outdoors in the Sierra's. They're obeying their globalist masters. Good little sheep.

What a sad picture that this family appears to be out in the countryside ,away from people, wearing a mask..

You don’t need masks if you are outside hiking with your family.

Makes no sense to go up to the mountains for fresh mountain air just to breathe in your own co2

The masks with the exhale feature on it does not block your droplets from exiting and infecting the people around you.

That is not the Bishop I grew up in. We didn’t live in fear‼️ Bishop as lost it’s way. Sad fir a beautiful area ,

What time does the 4th of July parade start ?

masks are nonsense,, please stop

I really miss living there. Be back soon.

Enough of this bs. No way I would go hiking in the mtns and wear a mask. Just may as well stay in the cesspool known as LA County and breathe the air here with a mask on.

Hopefully the mask wearing works, cause the social distancing and all the sanitizing isn’t...

Wearing masks in fresh mountain air & sunshine. Just can't fix stupid.

More crying 😢 about wearing a mask. Pitiful little babies!!

Guess I won’t go this year👎

Jeeping this 4th of July!

More sheep

Looking good!

Yellow star,mask..same thing advocated by the same types of people.

No more masks.

Missing hometown

Lived in Bishop early 90's. Can't believe what houses cost there now!!!

View more comments

Load more