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.

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

How do you enjoy OUR BACKYARD?

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

11 hours ago

Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

So love bishop My late husband spent every holiday except Christmas there with our motorhome So many wonderful memories

Love the beautiful starry skies..

I'm spending my day wishing I was there. It's good to have goals! 🥰

My retirement goal!

Love it up there

Oh gosh I have so many wonderful memories of sitting by a lake or creek or river up in Bishop. ❤️

Yep. My bride of 42 years & I just returned from a week’s long visit to Bishop. We can’t wait to go back!

I lived there for 14 years. One of my boys was born there. Truly miss the Eastern Sierra. Bishop was special and still is.

Just got home from spending 4 absolutely grand days there!! Loved every minute looking forward to the next trip!

I want to go back and visit

Mt. Goode from Long Lake

Marlena Leister

when ever I drive thru Bishop I know I'm getting close to home and when I stop in Bishop it's usually to rest for a day and relax.

Paradise

Cesar Sanchez

No but some day maybe

+ View more comments

1 day ago

Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

That tree in the fall is one of my favorite spots

Beautiful.oak tree!!!!!

It’s a great place to visit

It is beautiful 🤩

I forgot, when does it start cooling off up there? Is it September or October? I want to visit (when I can), but I'd prefer in one of the cooler, mild seasons (like Fall or Spring).

Was just there !!

California

+ View more comments

2 days ago

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, here's a little history about them:Motorists traveling on El Camino Sierra about 14 miles south of Olancha, have probably noticed the ruins of a few dilapidated rock buildings with accompanying other small structures and mobile homes on the west side of the highway. This would be Dunmovin. First known as Cowan's Station, it served as a way station for the Cerro Gordo feight wagons, a supply center for nearby mines, a work camp for LADWP construction workers and finally as a gas station, garage, motel and cafe for travelers on El Camino Sierra. When Charles and Hilda King purchased the property in 1936, Hilda was relieved to finally be "settled down" and renamed the property as Dunmovin...according to this little poem credited to Hilda. "We’ve moved from yon to hither Now we’re set and provin In all the world we are perhaps The only folks dunmovin" Like many such establishments, fuel efficient and more reliable cars spelled the end of Dunmovin. It closed for good in the early 1970s...and now stands as a sentimental reminder of times gone by along El Camino Sierra. Thank you for following us on Facebook if you enjoy our posts, and for sharing them with others you think may enjoy them. We sincerely appreciate it! ... See MoreSee Less

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, heres a little history about them:

 

Comment on Facebook

Me, driving to a Bishop, many times. Also Crystal Springs Water, too!,

Wow I never knew this existed. Going to have to check this out on my next visit. Thanks for the new adventure.

Great place to visit

At the top of the Dunmovin grade is the turnoff to Haiwee Power Plant. I worked there for a year from the summer of '78. The Espee spur line from Mojave to Lone Pine was still in operation with weekly (?) peddler freights headed to town. The China Lake Weapons Center conducted aerial operations all up and down the Paniment and Owens Valleys including strafing runs over the dam. Loved that year. I'll never forget it

Great info!

Love the history! We always chuckled at the name of Dunmovin but didn’t know the history.

Can't swear to it, but I think I remember passing those as a kid in the 50s, maybe 60s, and they were occupied?

My parents use to be friends with some people who lived there/owned it. Cant remember his name, but I believe he was a Lawyer...

HAHA--I TOLD you Tim Alls!!! ;0 LOL

+ View more comments

2 days ago

Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. 
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

Always beautiful scenery

Awesome 😎

,BEAUTIFUL AREA

We used to live there. We could look out our window and see it every day

Home Sweet Home

Beautiful

Been there when glacier filled this valley in late summer and fall. Sad to see them melt away

Great picture. Norman Clyde was one incredible men of history. Had an interesting life. Wonder if his story is being told in schools today? One case where truth is much better than fiction. <3

Ryan Johnson

Cesar Sanchez

Jana Weaver

Niki Hansen-Daniel

Next time? Jorge Vargas

California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_snow

+ View more comments

4 days ago

This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!!
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!! 
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

Full value, great day.

Congrats Lady!

Always wanted to climb Mt.Tom! Closest I came was living on Mt. Tom Rd!

Outstanding !!!!!!

Great view from up there.

Yes! Thanks for sharing.

Amazing!

Thanks for sharing!! Hiked up to Horton lakes about 40 years ago wanted to keep going, but my buddy’s didn’t

Beautiful but way to High for me😳☺ I don't do high things that well☺

Nice😎

Doug Foley and I climbed Tom back in the 80's. My Ma used to live in Rovana.

thanks for posting this beautiful picture...I don't think I have ever seen a picture from the top of Mt. Tom Kudos to you !

I have been there (as well as on top of Humphreys) and I can attest, the view is sublime! The rock skiing to get down is quite entertaining as well!

I want to go there

Mt Tom was the first summit I did as a teen. Until I climbed it I imagined that I'd look down onto Fresno. I was really surprised to see so many more mountains on the other side.

My oldest maternal cousin met his fate on the flanks of Mt. Tom.

Climbed to the top with Skye and Scotty on Dara’s 50th BD! It was awesome! What a view!

Rachael Nicole Banton this is the peak we see when we hike George like

Single mom, with many "friends " to take her places

Way to go lady!!! You ROCK!! 👍

Any rock climbing with that? Lol! I'd like to try it if it's non-technical. Some boulder scrambling is expected but I'd have to train to readjust to that altitude.

Wow

Matt Cunningham

Cody

💪💪 Appears taller than Ragged Mountain in Penobscot County, Maine.

+ View more comments

Load more
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!