was the key that unlocked the treasure chest of the Eastern
Sierra. Vast deserts on three sides and an immense mountain
barrier on the other kept white men away from the native Paiute,
Shoshone, and Washoe settlements until relatively late in California's
history. But the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver ore in
1858, east of Lake Tahoe, changed that overnight. Prospectors
from the gold fields on the west side flooded east across the
Sierra to the Comstock. Rich gold and silver discoveries at
Aurora and Bodie fueled the rumors and dreams of many and kept
Four prospectors hunting for the Lost Cement Mine organized
the Lakes Mining District on Mineral Hill near Lake Mary in
1877. The following year, General George Dodge of Civil War
and Union Pacific fame bought the group of claims and organized
the Mammoth Mining Co.
News that the company was running four tunnels into Mineral
Hill and constructing a tramway and 20-stamp mill, and rumor
that this was the "largest bonanza outside Virginia City,
"sparked a short-lived rush to the Mammoth gold mines.
Over a thousand people flocked to Mammoth City the summer of
1878 and perhaps 1,500 the next. The riches and the bonanza
never materialized and the Mammoth Mining Co. shut down its
mill in 1880.
In the 1900's a different breed of pioneer discovered Mammoth.
They were looking for riches that lay in the enjoyment of the
Eastern Sierra. Fishing, hunting, photography, camping, hiking,
horseback riding were what drew the summer visitors to Mammoth
and with them came the businesses to support them. Movies were
even made in the meadow and the Lakes Basin. The village of
Old Mammoth was bom. Fords, Chevies, and you name it - vintage
of 1914 on - made it through the desert, up the steep grades
and into the meadow; a trip of two and one half days from Los
Angeles. A hotel, store, garage, bakery, and post office were
established, known as Mammoth Carnp.
Tent camps were set up along the Mammoth Creek or in the nearby
forest. Many of the visitors were Bishop families coming for
the summer; others arrived from Los Angeles. Eventually the
summer visitors built cabins along the creek and in the Lakes
a few caretakers stayed to protect the properties that were
here during the winter. Those few received mail and supplies
Mammoth became a quiet and remote area until the completion
of a modern highway in 1937. The camping, hiking, fishing, and
dynamic beauty of the area made it a sportsman's paradise. The
area developed quite a reputation as a summer retreat. Mammoth
got its name from the mining era, Mannnoth Mining Co.
duplicated from the Mammoth Times Real Estate Publication Vol
2, #2, winter 1996.