|The Gold Queen is near Mill Creek Summit off the old 1893 Monte Cristo Mining District Wagon Road.|
County: Los Angeles
Primary Mineral: Gold
Years of Operation: First worked in 1897. The duration is unknown. Also briefly worked in the 1990s, but has since been abandoned.
Nearest City or Landmark: North of Mill Creek Summit off the Angeles Forest Hwy.
Depth: Currently 145 feet. The full depth is unknown, because of two bulkheads sealing the end of the tunnel. There is also an exploratory tunnel a few hundred feet above and further south that is about 30 feet deep.
|Looking out from the portal. This mine has one straight adit, approximately 165 feet deep.|
A Case of Mistaken Identity
At least two websites have mistaken the identity of the Gold Queen Mine as the Black Cat, including Hugh Blanchard's. Information about this mine is rare, and Hugh was probably just repeating what he had heard about it, but a search of mining records has shown me that the Black Cat Mine was actually located farther north than the Gold Queen, 10 miles east of Acton and 5.6 miles southwest of the town of Littlerock. As far as I know the Black Cat Mine has never been located, but I have an old photo of a homestead that was nearby. The terrain is hilly and has no resemblance to the steep valley terrain of the Gold Queen. The Black Cat also went by another name, The Gold Note.
|Not so long ago a gentleman named Ray was living in the mine. Some of his belongings still remain.|
A Nice Place To Visit, But ....
Directly inside the Gold Queen's portal, a storage cabinet was built into the wall, presumably by a miner who worked and actually lived in the mine during the late 1990s. Most of the items are what you would expect to find, a hardhat, a flashlight, a respirator, a few magazines and some spare batteries.
But one item stands out; a bottle of injectable penicillin. At first this seemed strange, but after looking around the mine its reason became evident. It seems that during the time the miner (named Ray) was living here, the mine was infested with rats, probably attracted by the moisture. Rat traps and poison are found throughout the mine, in fact I saw one of these critters in my exploration, nesting at the back of the mine.
|Near the entrance to the mine there is a storage cabinet built into the wall, containing mining supplies.|
This must have been an incredible unhealthy environment to work and live in. Rats often carry fleas, which can transmit bacterial illnesses, including the black plague. Not to mention that rats attract snakes, which you probably wouldn't want living in the place where you sleep. The moisture and mold must have also taken its toll on this poor fellow. You can read more about this brave miner further down on this page.
|This was once a wet mine. Two modern bulkheads were later added to channel the water into a pipe.|
An Obscure Mine With Little Known History
Little is known about the history of this mine. In fact, there is no mention of it by noted mine historian John W. Robinson in his well known book, Mine’s of the San Gabriels. My first thought was that it was just another unsuccessful mine, but then I checked into mining records and found that although the gold found here was not considered to be of world-class significance it was of good enough grade to have a strong effect on the economics of the excavation project, and that gold was probably the only ore mined. There was one brief mention of the Gold Queen in a book that is long out of print by Meryl Adams on page 95 of Heritage Happenings, but nowhere else on the internet, other than Hugh Blanchard’s website. All that is certain is that mining began here in 1897 and lasted for an unspecified duration.
During the 1990s a gentleman by the name of Ray L. Bothum from Idaho purchased the property with the intention of constructing a dude ranch and re-opening the mine. Two bulkheads were installed at the back of the mine to dam water and channel it to a nearby storage tank. The proposed dude ranch was to be called the Wagon Wheel Ranch, but the ranch never materialized and the mine was eventually abandoned. The current ownership, if any, is unknown. The late mine explorer Hugh Blanchard attempted to contact the owner around 2007 unsuccessfully. There is another mine located fairly close to the Gold Queen, but it is uncertain whether the two are related. The second mine is shallow, about 30 feet deep.
|At the back of the mine is a bulkhead holding back water. A second one is visible through the screen.|
Sometime in the late 1990s, two bulkheads were added to the rear of the Gold Queen Mine. These water dams probably served a dual purpose, by keeping the mine reasonably dry while providing a water source for the proposed dude ranch outside. It is likely this mine had about one foot of water prior to the installation of these 3 foot high structures. At the bottom of the front bulkhead a pipe protrudes and leads to the entrance of the mine, where a faucet is present. It is thought that the screening was later added to keep flies and mosquitos from breeding in the water. The screen is sealed with expanding foam, now home to the rat seen below.
|It appears that this mine was once infested with rats. Old traps and rat poison are found throughout.|
It’s hard to imagine what it was like to live inside this mine. Open to the elements, and to animals, my guess is that the living conditions played a major role in this mine's eventual abandonment. Mice and rats are inevitably attracted to dark mines, especially if water is present. And they can be hazardous to your health. This is one reason I always wear a dust mask when I enter dry mines. Mice and rat dropping sometimes carry the hantavirus, which can be deadly if it gets into your lungs. They also carry fleas, which can transmit bacterial diseases. My guess is that the miner who lived here found out the hard way, hence the injectable penicillin found in his storage chest. Rats and mice are also a food source for larger predators, which would not be welcome visitors.
|A water pipe runs the length of the mine, connected to the bulkhead. Water was stored in an outside tank.|
The Monte Cristo Mining District Wagon Road
Around 1893 a company was organized by Colonel Baker who had just bought the Monte Cristo Mine, relatively close to the Gold Queen Mine. The company spent $85,000 building a rough wagon road from Acton up Aliso Canyon, over Mill Creek Summit, and down to the Monte Cristo. This road was used to bring in heavy mining machinery and building materials for structures. At the time, this was the only road into the Mill Creek area.
|The Monte Cristo Mining District Wagon Road was built in 1893. The Gold Queen is located just below it.|
This road would one day be replaced by the Angeles Forest Highway. This Angeles Forest Highway project was proposed in 1928, but not completed until 1941. The first road was built by the Edison Company to service their power lines in the 1920s. The Gold Queen Mine rests just below one of the remaining segments of the original 1893 Monte Cristo Mining District Wagon Road and can also be seen from the side of the Angeles Forest Highway, near Mill Creek Summit.
|This is an unidentified mine I recently found near the Gold Queen. It was probably part of the Gold Bar Group.|
An Unidentified Mine Near The Gold Queen
On the mountainside a few hundred feet above the Gold Queen is another mine. I do not know its name as of yet. It’s not a deep one, only about 40 feet, but it is cavernous. This was probably owned by the same mining group that owned the Gold Queen and the Black Cat, located further north. This mining operation was called the Gold Bar Group.
|Inside the portal of the unidentified mine. To get inside you have to drop down across razor sharp rocks.|
The unidentified mine is quite different than the Gold Queen. I refer to these sort of mines as dead man’s drifts, huge hollowed out areas in the rock with no supports above. It is a dangerous mine, and the portal is filling in fast. Large white blocks of rock have fallen from the ceiling and they are particularly sharp. In order to enter this mine you need to drop down inside of it, where it widens into a cavernous room. It you should happen to find it I would advise staying out. To see more photos of this mine click here.
|This is a shallow, but cavernous mine. Large blocks of rock keep falling from the unsupported ceiling.|
Search For The Black Cat / Gold Note Mine
At one time another mine was located further north of the Gold Queen called the Black Cat / Gold Note Mine. Hugh Blanchard misidentified these two as the same mine, but these "two" mines were once referred to as the Gold Bar Group. The smaller unidentified mine seen in the photos above was probably also a part of this group. The Black Cat is of particular interest to me, as I have never seen photos of it, nor do I know if it still exists. I have nearly pinpointed the location of where it once was, and still may be. However it looks like it may lie on private property, so I may or may not be able to reach it.
|Thought to be a photo of the homestead of J.M. Pierson, about a mile northwest of the 1890 stamp mill.|
All watermarked photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without my consent.