The Horseshoe Mine - An unreported and nearly forgotten gold mine on the East Fork

Hugh Blanchard

Several years ago while hiking to the Bridge that Goes Nowhere on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River a fellow hiker advised me of a mine located downstream from the Bridge. Since then I made several unsuccessful efforts to locate it but only recently was able to find it on a trip this past May with grotto member Doug MacKenzie and his friend Dave Varnon.

For starters there is nothing I can find in print which mentions the mine. John Robinson's definitive Mines of the East Fork does not refer to it. The Forest Service has told me they know nothing about it. Oddly enough the only place it is named is in an Internet sales article for the surrounding property placed in 1998 on Tom Chester's web site by the then owner Frank Saunders. No sale developed as the Saunders family still owns the property according to the County Assessor's Office.

The mine was originally patented in 1909 by Saunders grandfather. Its name comes from the shape of the river where it is located. It is part of a 50 acre private enclave owned by the Saunders family which may or may not include the Bridge that Goes Nowhere. The Saunders family claims ownership of the Bridge. The Forest Service is not sure as surveys performed in the 1880's were frequently inaccurate. Frank Saunders passed away 5 years ago but his widow Gail whose mailing address is now in Texas continues to license bungee operations from the Bridge to Bungee America, Inc.

The reason the mine is rather difficult to find is because the hikers trail to the Bridge veers eastward several hundred yards away from the East Fork about a mile below the Bridge. Thus only those few hikers who continue going directly upstream would notice the mine. The key to finding it is to note a private enclave marker on the trail a quarter of a mile before the Bridge. The marker lists various restrictions on entering this area. Shortly after the marker a faint but noticeable trail leads down to the stream. Upon reaching the stream head downstream at least 600 feet to find the mine. One of our group feels it is more like a thousand feet. In any event the mine is on the left (east) bank and is quite noticeable.

It is 5 feet wide and generally 6 feet high. It goes in straight as an arrow for 225 feet. In two places (at 147 and 210 feet) the ceiling rises about 25 feet above the floor indicating a possible upper level. Ore cart rails run throughout its length. A small amount of water emerges from the entrance and a tiny amount of flowstone is present in one area.

About a half mile downstream from the mine are the remains of two stone cabins on the right (west) bank presumably used by the miners. Watch out for snakes. I nearly stepped on a rattler.

Go to Field Guide to the San Gabriel Mountains: Places

Copyright © 2004 by Hugh Blanchard
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester, who will relay the email to Hugh
Updated 6 June 2004.