|These are the old ore cart rail platforms. This mine has one straight adit, approximately 60 feet deep.|
County: Los Angeles
Primary Mineral: Molybdenum - Gold may have been a secondary mineral, but was not recorded.
Years of Operation: Early 1900's, exact years of mining are unknown
Nearest City or Landmark: Lower Chileo Campground, Angeles Crest Highway
Depth: One tunnel, Approx. 60 feet. Another tunnel 80 feet above the Angeles Crest Hwy has been sealed.
|A view from inside this single tunnel mine. It's located in the rock wall adjacent to the work shed.|
This mine is popularly known as the Bell Hartman Mine, however it also went by the name of Boatwright Prospect. Numerous names for the same mine are not uncommon, but it often leads to confusion in identification. Many mines went by several names as ownerships changed hands over the years. Hugh Blanchard identified this as the Bell Hartman mine, but both names are correct. The primary ore mined was Molybdenum. Molybdenum is a brittle silver-gray metal used in some alloy steels.
|This two story shed is close to, but not visible from the highway above. It houses several old mining artifacts.|
This is an elusive mine, perched on top of a hill just 500 feet below the Angeles Crest Highway. There are no trails to reach it. The highlight is not the mine itself, but a work shed which houses an ultra rare early 1900s Ingersoll Rand air compressor on wheels. One of the later miners at this location was Charley Chantry (whom Chantry Flat is named after). As is the case with all of the mines on this site, I do not give exact locations. This is to protect them from looters and vandals, but mostly from the forest service.
|This is the work bench inside the shed. Various engine parts, cans and thick broken glass still remain.|
The Work Shed
High atop what I refer to as the "mountain of junk" is an old, two story work shed. Apparently it was built in the early 1900's to shelter a large air compressor from the elements. Engine parts, corrugated metal and tons of other relics are strewn about the hill it rests on. Aside from the compressor there is a work bench and a trap door leading to an empty loft above. Throughout the past century this shed has weathered the elements with very little damage.
|This Ingersoll-Rand gas powered air compressor pre-dates 1923 and is still in amazingly good condition.|
Housed in a two story work shed on top of a steep slope is an original Ingersoll-Rand air compressor on wheels, used to power jackhammers and drills. The body is stamped with the numbers 1945-T, however this is not the age of the compressor. How do I know this? Because there's also an iron boiler with lettering stating that it was tested on 11/03/23. Most of this huge wheeled unit is still intact, with some of the disassembled pieces strewn on the hillside below. How miners were able to get this monstrosity to this location is a mystery only ancient Egyptians could answer.
|The work bench still has lots of old rusty items and thick broken aqua colored glass.|
Challenges of Remote Mining
Imagine the difficulties that were involved in mining remote areas of the San Gabriel Mountains in the early 1900's, especially when bringing in heavy equipment. Consider that this mine is located a full 26 miles up the Angeles Crest Highway. Construction on the this highway did not begin until 1929, and even then it was only intended to be a fire access road. Built by prison labor, this highway was not completed and opened to cars until 1956. Prior to the Angeles Crest Highway, only dirt wagon roads existed here.
|Above the ground floor is a large loft with windowed doors. Nothing much besides mice poop up here.|
A Mine With Little Success
According to John Robinson's "Mines of the San Gabriels" the Bell Hartman mine had little success. There was originally another tunnel located about 80 feet above the Angeles Crest Highway, but it has since been completely sealed, presumably by the forest service after the highway reached this section in 1939. Before that time the mine could only be reached by wagon roads.
|Photo of a fallen water tower near the mine taken by Hugh Blanchard in 2007. It is now completely gone.|
The Mountain of Junk
One way I find these old mines is by "following the junk". Nearby artifacts sometimes (but not always) indicate I'm getting close to what I'm looking for. This particular mine has items strewn in every direction. And not just small items either: entire engines, barrels, corrugated metal and even what may have been a wood sided ore cart. How these heavy items landed in such a steep and remote area remains a mystery.
|A complete engine and partial transmission found on the "mountain of junk". How it got here is a mystery.|
|Charley and his dog Patch next to his sturdy tent cabin. His former home is now known as Chantry Flat.|
Charley and his dog Patch continued to occupy a tent there, grazing his stock. He spent enough time there to have his name permanently attached to the area now known a Chantry Flat (formerly Poison Oak Flat). The road to Chantry Flat was originally intended to connect to the Angeles Crest Hwy. at Shortcut Canyon, but the Forest Service decided not to allow it. By the way, there are three mines called the Winter Creek Group in the canyons below Chantry Flat that I am currently searching for, although it is not known whether Charley had any connection to them. As of yet I have only found one out of three.
|West Fork Ranger Station, moved to upper Chileo in 1983, located about a mile or two from the mine.|
Side Trip To Upper Chileo
To protect the mines on this site from vandalism I do not give exact locations, however if you should happen to find the Bell Hartman / Boatwright Prospect you'll want to take a side trip to visit the original West Fork Ranger Station. I often condemn the forest service for destroying structures, but in this case they did the right thing by moving and restoring the cabin from the West Fork all the way to the grounds of Upper Chileo Campground, piece by piece. It's located a mile or two north of the mine, behind the ultra modern visitor's center.
This ranger station was originally built in 1900 along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River and north of Mt. Wilson. It was the first ranger station built in California with federal government funds, for $75. In the late 1920's, new roads into the mountains changed both the method of travel and the choice of routes, leaving the cabin isolated. The cabin was moved in 1983 to protect it from decay and vandalism.
There’s an interesting story about how Chileo got its name. Almost exactly where the visitor center now stands, there was once a cabin that belonged to Jose Gonzales, a member of Tibercio Vasquez's outlaw gang. The cabin served as one of Vasquez's many hideouts, and Gonzales guarded the gang’s horses at this location. One day Gonzales was attacked by a huge bear, which he killed with only his knife, earning him the name Chillia ~ a slang word that roughly translates to “badass”. Eventually the name evolved into Chileo.
|Wildflowers in nearby Devil's Canyon. I overshot the mine by a mile on my first attempt to locate it.|
Additional Photos - Bell Hartman / Boatwright Prospect
All watermarked photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without my consent.