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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.

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1 day ago

Hmmmmm... thinking about all of the things I'm grateful for...
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

Photo by Instagram user @pardonmyfrencheee
#keepbishopsafe #Thanksgiving2020
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Hmmmmm... thinking about all of the things Im grateful for...
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

Photo by Instagram user @pardonmyfrencheee
#keepbishopsafe #Thanksgiving2020

Comment on Facebook

FWIW, it's interesting that "Visit Bishop" posts a photo of scenery that's 60 miles away. Just sayin'... but I love this photo! <3

Adorable.....just like Bishop! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone❤️🦃🍁

What a great photo !!

Great picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤🦃🦃

Happy Thanksgiving!

See you soon!

Shana Gordon

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1 day ago

Members of the Emmy-award winning CBS show “One Day at a Time” and state health expert Dr. Diana Ramos share important tips and information on how to have safe family holidays in the time of COVID-19. Check it out!

Happy Thanksgiving!! (English) (Spanish)
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3 days ago

This is Bishop from the Tungsten Hills looking east. Our little town is almost like an island. We have to travel hours to do most major shopping, or for any major medical issues. For most of us, it is absolutely worth it because we love the Eastern Sierra and although our town is small, our “backyard” is big and full of majestic natural beauty. We know many of you who live far away love this place as well. ❤️

So as you are making holiday plans this year, please remember to protect the people and places you love to play in. We appreciate it!!

Photo by Betsy Forsyth Johnson
... See MoreSee Less

This is Bishop from the Tungsten Hills looking east. Our little town is almost like an island. We have to travel hours to do most major shopping, or for any major medical issues. For most of us, it is absolutely worth it because we love the Eastern Sierra and although our town is small, our “backyard” is big and full of majestic natural beauty. We know many of you who live far away love this place as well. ❤️

So as you are making holiday plans this year, please remember to protect the people and places you love to play in. We appreciate it!! 

Photo by Betsy Forsyth Johnson

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We were campground hosts at Mammoth & went to Bishop for nice dinners on our days off, get haircuts, do laundry & see dentist. Enjoyed Bishop Mule Days too.. Besutiful area to spend the summer... Had to edit & add Schat's Bakery 💞💞

My first trip to Bishop was 57 years ago and have been back more years than not. I plan to keep coming back until my legs can’t walk the trails anymore. It’s truly a special place.

Wish I could be there. Great place to do star watching. Seem to be extra stars in the sky over there. Wishing you all the best for the holidays. Wish that bakery could deliver. So yummy. Stay well. <3

Loved growing up in Bishop, many fond memories there! I bet the town has changed since 75, but never the scenery!

One of my favorite places to camp don't how many times I've been there but I've been a bunch of times love it over 30times

I love it too! Grew up in Big Pine, worked in Bishop and Big Pine! 😊

best town I ever lived in

A place and time far far away! A place named Bishop, where I was born.

Take care! Hope to see you again next year!

Lived in early 50’s I lived in a mine camp Sheelite till the mud slide, moved to Rovanna To a mine housing . Parents bought a house in Tungsten City, up behind Rocking K Ranch, attended school in Round Valley Lots of memory In the area

Maybe you need to stop Blaming people that travel to the Eastern Sierra for your local problems. Its not really that small of a town and With the tax you get from tourism build a real medical facility and hospital!

Best place to grow up ‼️

Bishop is always one of our stopping points if we're visiting Yosemite and Death Valley. Bishop Creek Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon, Schats Bakery, Jacks, Spellbinder Books, Whiskey Creek- all previous haunts. Once normal travel arrangements return, we'll be back to visit one of our favourite places in the USA.

My Dad grew up in Bishop, he actually worked at the Tungsten mines for awhile before heading to El Paso to go to college. Then the war started and he joined the Army Air Corps . I spent many a summers staying with my grandma Duffy, playing with my cousins in that magical place. Still my favorite place on earth.

I know this viewpoint........magic.

I really miss Bishop and the Owens valley.....

Lived at Hilltop Estates/ Swall Meadows for quite a few years in the late 70’s to the early 80’s. Only place in California that keeps me coming back every couple years.

We would love to move there! Love the area.

Thank you for the words and picture you are blessed to live there xo

Our favorite place to go. Always come to the car show.


To bad its in commiefornia. Love bishop

I remember Lone Pine too. Loved it

Small Town, Big Back Yard. 🥰

Can I have a friend request please

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6 days ago

Flashback to Main Street, 1886. Who would like to escape to this scene?

#LoveBishop #historicbishop
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Flashback to Main Street, 1886. Who would like to escape to this scene?

#LoveBishop #historicbishop

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I will take 1986. Had a cool uncle living there. Free lodging, and his Land Cruiser was available for deep snow drives.

Heck no...especially after I saw the video on "the old western hygiene". Talk about funk and stink! Whew, even the women stunk! add on disease, diet and doctoring! 😆

I wonder if they still had to pose to get the exposure by 1886. Probably not.

Hmmm...1886 in Owens Valley? Was there a Sheriff? Or just a bunch of gun toting fools on horseback.

might be a sale but I will think it is a Halter class in the middle of the street and that will make me happy

Love that picture

I would love it. 🙏❤️🙏

I see Rusty’s!! Lol

It would be hard an cold but very free it would be something to go back in time

Every horse looks so healthy (extra shiny coat).... all that great pasture of the area > Owens Valley!

No thank you. I love Bishop, but I can't imagine living there without AC or a swamp cooler. lol

Even tho these days were hard ,they were free to enjoy great days.

Life was harder back then but better in My opinion.

Looks like a stock sale. If it were today, I would call it a horse show.

A busy place!

Early "Mule Days"?

I would buy that Appaloosa .

I would escape in a second :)

great pic

Right on

Can we visit but not stay?


Great picture

Me toooooooo

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1 week ago

Ahhhh, we sure love sunsets in the Eastern Sierra!! 😍

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau
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Ahhhh, we sure love sunsets in the Eastern Sierra!! 😍

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau

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An amazing picture of a beautiful sky. Thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

The dinosaurs are still around when you see the sky like that

Hermoso,Bishop calf.


Felicidades yerandi que tela pases muy vien

The ponds. Nice

I'm ready to FISH



That's the sky color of snow on the way!! Lovely😍😘🐈😷

That is amazing beautiful blue sky I like winn you took that picture of the amazing beautiful blue sky

Amazing picture to put up on a wall

Gorgeous photo!


So beautiful!





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