Pacoima Canyon Mines

The Dutch Louie Mine was a gold mine that diverted water through a split tunnel in Pacoima Canyon.
Dutch Louie Mine is easier to find than it used to be, but most people who hike right past it.

G.C.K. Placers / Dutch Louie Mine

County: Los Angeles

Primary Mineral: This was a water diversion tunnel used to enrich a placer gold mining claim

Years of Operation: 1890 through the 1920s

Nearest City or Landmark: In Pacoima Canyon, west of Little Tujunga, below Mendenhall Ridge Road

Depth: This split tunnel has not been measured

The Dutch Louie MIne in Pacoima Canyon is forked. Both tunnels have become clogged with rocks.
A fork in the mine. Both tunnels were dug to divert water to Dutch Louie's claim.

Pacoima Canyon is located below the Dillon Divide, off of an unmarked road called Forest Route 4N25 or Mendenhall Ridge Road. I’ve visited this canyon twice, and as of yet I’ve never seen another soul there. It’s an incredibly long canyon, which was heavily mined for gold, silver and titanium from the 1890s through the 1920s. There are many mines in the canyon, some of which I will never find, hidden on the brushy hillsides.

Dutch Louie Mine's left fork gets progressively smaller, narrowed by stream rocks.
There was once an underground stream flowing through both tunnels. Now both are clogged.

Dutch Louie Mine 

The Dutch Louie Mine, also known as G.C.K. Placers was a very unusual gold mining operation. The placers were discovered by a prospector who went by the name of Dutch Louie, also known as the Hermit of Pacoima. Placer mining is different than hard rock mining, in that the gold is recovered from a stream bed or lake bed, and not from a mine per se. However, in order to recover more gold, Louie and his partners diverted the stream by tunneling a temporary watercourse through the rock where the creek made a horseshoe bend. The mine was bored with the specific purpose of enriching Louie's claim with more water, gold bearing rocks and sediment.

Not so long ago, there was an underground stream that ran through both tunnels, but today it is completely dry, clogged by river rocks. This is a split tunnel, and both forks apparently had upper levels at one time. In fact, the right fork has a rope hanging down that clearly led to an upper tunnel. It is now jammed with rocks, precariously balanced above a small hole in the ceiling. You can see a photo of this clog below, and another of the left fork above.

Inside the Dutch Louie Mine's right fork a second level has been blocked by huge rocks.
Large rocks have blocked the upper level of the right fork. Don't pull that rope!

Dutch Louie's Sad Obituary

Then Goes Home to Die, Leaving Pathetic Note to Coroner.

“Dutch Louie,” known throughout the Southwest as the hermit of the Pacoima, a few days ago walked slowly from his hut, which is 5 miles from Pacoima, and selecting a spot on the hillside, dug himself a narrow grave.

Then he returned to his home, dressed himself in his best clothing and lay down to die. All that he told in a letter he wrote to the coroner just before he lay down for the last time.

The note, a pitiful chronicle of hope that never died, asked the coroner to bury him without ceremony in the grave he had dug and to mark it only with a scant inscription, “Dutch Louie.”

“I don’t fear death,” wrote the hermit. “It is the inevitable wages of life — and I have lived. For scores of years I have lived in the hope of finding the bonanza I had dreamed of and prayed for. I never found it, but I was cheered to the end by the star of hope.”

The body was found by hunters.

The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) Jun 8, 1915

Outside the Dutch Louie Mine in Pacoima Canyon, there's a small pick head stuck in the rock.
I call this Excalibur. It's a small pick head stuck in the rock outside the mine, probably Dutch Louie's.

Dagger Flat 

Volunteers have been maintaining a trail as far up as Dagger Flat, a wide spot in Pacoima Canyon, marked by a metal post buried in rocks, seen in the photo below. Beyond this point the trail begins to fade, however it is possible to continue on. At Dagger Flat there is also a side trail that leads up to the Santa Clara Truck Trail, Forest Route 3N17, called the Dagger Flat Trail. I have never taken this trail, but it was reportedly built in the 1930s, and remained unmaintained until recently being restored by volunteers. The 2.5 mile trail reopened in 2014. There has been a long standing rumor that a prospector was killed in a knife attack here, over a mining dispute, however I have found no source to back this claim up. Perhaps this is where the name Dagger Flat originated. There are mines beyond this point, just as long as you're prepared for some bushwhacking.

Dagger Flat is a wide area in Pacoima Canyon. There is a metal marker lin a rock pile there.
Farther up in the canyon is an area called Dagger Flat. After this point the trail fades away.


Denver / Indicator Mine 

Primary Minerals:  Antimony, cobalt, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc

Years of Operation: Unknown

Nearest City or Landmark: In Pacoima Canyon, east of Laurel Canyon

Depth: Approx. 20 feet deep. Inside is a sealed shaft, outside is an additional clogged adit.

Pacoima Canyon was mined for gold, silver and titanium. This unidentified titanium mine may be the San Gabriel Mountain Mine..
Unlike other mines in Pacoima Canyon, this shallow one is easy to fine.

Many thanks to Forgotten Mining History for confirming the name of this mine as the Denver Mine. The mine went by multiple names, which made Identifying it difficult. Secondary names included the Chance, Fenner, Indicator, Red Ledge and Pacoima Canyon Mine. It was also a part of the Ore Hill Group. This site was mined for several different minerals, antimony, cobalt, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc. Years of operation and success of this mine are still undetermined. According to Forgotten Mining history this was owned by the Denver Mining and Milling Company in conjuction with the Ore Hill Group. The mine you see further down on this page was probably a part of the Ore Hill Group as well. If this is correct, both properties were later sold and became separate mines.

Directly inside the portal of a titanium mine in Pacoima Canyon is a sealed shaft. This is possibly the San Gabriel Mountains Mine
Directly inside the portal is what appears to be a filled in shaft. The mine itself is very shallow.

This is a very shallow mine, however, directly inside the portal there is what appears to be a filled in shaft (seen above). To the right of the shaft is a piece of rusty sheet metal, covering a hole that leads into what looks like a caved-in or filled-in tunnel. The portal to this tunnel can be found outside of this mine, slightly to the right . The tunnel looks like it was clogged by flood waters and it's hard to say how deep it originally was. There's actually enough space to crawl in, but it would be extremely high risk to do so.

Possibly the San Gabriel Mountains Mine in Pacoima Canyon, this abandoned titanium mine is quite shallow
Next to a backfilled shaft there's a metal plate covering a clogged tunnel. I opted not to crawl in.

Outside The Mine

Close to the mine there’s a deep cement well. It's the same type I found near another mine further up the canyon.  Also there’s a bullet ridden wall, shot up by some very heavy ammo. This is the one thing I worry about when I hike this canyon, stray bullets. As of yet I’ve never heard any gunfire, but I’ve seen a lot items obliterated by bullets. Close to the wall there are ruins of a very long, odd shaped building. It’s hard to say what it may have been used for, but chances are good that a road once ran through the middle of this canyon, used for transporting ore and equipment.

The is a clogged titainium mine in Pacoima Canyon, possibly the San Gabriel Mountains Mine.
Directly to the right of the main portal is this clogged adit. It looks as if it used to be quite deep.

Beyond the second mine the terrain begins to get brushier. Some areas are thick enough that you’ll have to walk through the middle of the creek to make progress. Both times I’ve visited I’ve seen fresh tracks of a mountain lion who roams this area. The farther you go, the thicker it seems to get, which makes the job of mine finding difficult, if not impossible. Nevertheless, I plan to visit this area at least one more time. There are several documented mines I have yet to find.

Ruins of a long, odd shaped building at an unidentified titanium mine site, possibly the San Gabriel Mountains Mine.
Ruins of an oddly shaped building. I suspect there was once a road nearby to transfer ore.

The Hermit's Hut

Along the way the stream bed briefly widens, and you’ll come across a well built lean-to. It’s hard to say whether this was a shelter or a hunting blind, but it’s just big enough for one person to stretch out on the inside. I call this the Hermit’s Hut, but whoever built it seems to be long gone. On the inside there's a small rock collection and a good view of all four sides through the gaps between the logs. My guess is that this was built by a hunter.

A well built hermit's hut, possibly a hunter's blind, found in Pacoima Canyon.
This lean-to may have been used as a hunting blind. Or perhaps another hermit lived inside.

The Mangled Wreck

In my travels I’ve come across quite a few wrecked cars. Some are stolen and dumped in remote areas, others crashed through the guard rail on Angeles Crest Highway and careened down cliffs. I’ve even found a few plane wrecks. But the car in the photo below looks like it was picked up and carried from miles away, by a flash flood. The power of water is amazing. The body has been completely ripped away from the chassis, and the frame has been bent like a pretzel. Ironically, had it not been for this wreck I might have walked right past a brand new mine I found nearby.

Far up Pacoima Canyon a wrecked auto chassis can be found, swept downstream by flash flooding.
Far up in Pacoima Canyon I found this auto chassis, minus the body. I hope the driver survived.

Unidentified (Probably Part of the Ore Hill Group)

Primary Mineral:  Unknown 

Years of Operation: Unknown

Nearest City or Landmark: In Pacoima Canyon, east of Dorothy Canyon

Depth: One straight adit, estimated 100 feet deep. Exact depth has not been recorded.

Unidentified mine portal found in Pacoima Canyon, possibly the Denver Group Mine.
This is a mine you won't see on any other website. I'm not sure what purpose the half wall serves.

A Mine Finder Exclusive

You probably won't see the mine below on any other website, at least none that I'm aware of. I'm currently trying to positively confirm its identity, but it was most likely a part of the Ore Hill Group. This company worked with the Denver Mining and Milling Company. Years of operation are unknown. 

Just inside an unidentified Titanium Mine in Pacoima Canyon, possibly the Denver Group Mine.
This looks like a crumbling mine, but the inside is solid rock, with no cave-ins.


This is a mine that took me by surprise. In fact, I would have walked right past it if I hadn’t slowed down to take photos of a wrecked car. This is one of the few mines I’ve see in the Angeles Forest with warning signs. Supposedly they’re all supposed to have them, but some are so remote that the Forest Service doesn’t bother posting them. The mine has an odd half wall built in front of it. I’m not sure what purpose it serves, other than making it look more ominous. The outside of the mine looks crumbly, but the inside is rock solid. In fact, It's one of the “very few” mines I’ve been in that has no cave-ins whatsoever. If you should happen to find this mine, use your own discretion. ALL mines are potentially dangerous.

Found at the back of an unidentified titanium mine is this mouse nest. This may be the Denver Group Mine.
This partially walled mine provides some protection from predators for mice and pack rats.

When I enter these mines I always wear a dust mask. The main reason is that mice often live inside, as is the case with this mine. Mice droppings sometimes carry the Hantavirus, which can be deadly if it gets into your lungs. And kicking up dust is often enough to get it airborne. Cases of Hantavirus are rare in California, but who wants to take chances? At the end of this mine there’s a nicely built mouse nest, seen above.

Looking out from the back of an unidentified mine in Pacoima Canyon, possibly the Denver Group Mine
I wasn't expecting to find this mine, so it's still unmeasured. It's roughly 100 feet deep.

Elwood's Amazing Find

The internet can be a valuable tool for mind finding. I visit various sites regularly to compare notes and learn new information on places I’ve never been before. The mine below was found by an extreme hiker named Elwood who posts regularly on a website called He’s been much further up Pacoima Canyon than I have, and found the fantastic box mine pictured below. Hopefully I will be able to get more photos of the interior and exterior in the future, but what a great find! 

This is an unidentified mine found in Pacoima Canyon. The inside has not been explored.
I learned about mine, a place I go to compare notes with other hikers.