A rich history of mining and old mining communities awaits in the mountains outside of Bridgeport California.
Sierra Rec Magazine Day trip adventure – June 30, 2021 – It is not often that our day trip adventures require a 4×4 but with my dad in town for an upcoming Yosemite backpack trip we took advantage of his Jeep and his passion for gold and mineral mining to explore the region near Masonic Ghost town just North of Bridgeport Ca.
Masonic Ghost town is located between the Sweetwater basin of the East Walker River and Bodie Ca. and this entire mountain range is littered with old mine shafts, mining relics and fantastic scenic views. We choose to follow the route out of Sweet water and thought we might make it to Bodie for our trip, but a wrong turn just before Masonic ghost town not only derailed those plans but helped us discover some of our favorite mining relics to date.
Masonic Mine from the sweet water route is approx. 8 miles down a road that some say is 2wd, but to be honest I would not travel it with out 4wd and some clearance. The most popular route is 12 miles coming north on a 2wd road from the north edge of Bridgeport reservoir. Our route provided us with mining signs and cave openings (some posted others not so much) and great vista views of Stevens Peak.
When we reached a spot of obvious split in the road we choose to go East and followed the route until we saw an old Bulldozer at another junction and turned south again to our first set of old mine relics. One this route we found three old buildings, old railroad lines, and old relic Down shaft that we Est to be 150-300 feet deep based on time it took a rock to reach bottom, and then one of the most dangerous open pit holes right next tot he road I have ever scene. ( i would not be surprised if there were dozens of animal skeletons in here)
After spending several hours exploring this eastern route, that is still probably considered part of the masonic mine community, we returned to the main road and headed down to Masonic mine. The main three tier structure of the mine is still in pretty good shape after 150 years, and there are several relic old cabins still in the valley floor. Funny as we read the historic plaque discussing the masonic ghost. As we walked short road through the aspen grove each of us felt an uncomfortableness that kind of creeped us out just before reading this sign. (Could the aspens hold the secrets of the Masonic Ghosts?
Located in a canyon close to the Nevada border, Masonic once had a population of about a thousand souls during its productive years that ended around 1901. Gold was first discovered here in the 1860s. Masonic was built on three levels or terraces with the middle level having the main street through town. Because the mine was located some distance from town, which housed the mill, ore was transported via an extensive tram system. It is fortunate for the ghost town visitor that most of the ruins are still here including the tram system.
Continuing along the route south back to wards Bodie and Bridgeport we discovered many more mine shafts and dig sites as well as tremendous scenic panoramic views North, until finally cresting over to the South Western edge of the mining communities and Masonic-Chemung Mine located a few miles out of Bridgeport and with fantastic views of the entire Bridgeport valley.
Masonic-Chemung Mine had great character and many protections set up for visitors to stay safe and many of the mine shafts have caved in or show signs of trouble. the natural air conditioner effect of the open mine shafts on this hot summer day were much welcomed.
I storm was a brewing to our south west so our visit would be cut a little short after long hot day exploring, as we headed back into Bridgeport for some food and gas.
If you only have an AWD or 2WD vehicle you can make it to the ghost town via the route out of Bridgeport it is approx. 12 miles to the masonic mine. But I would recommend a 4wd with clearance for the Sweetwater entrance which cuts the drive to 8 miles, unless you are like us and find other places to explore first.