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May Lundy Mine - High Grader evidence?


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short story of high grader at the May Lundy

A High Grader’s trip down the mountain


After leaving the tram station, opportunities began to present themselves for taking high grade ore from the ore wagons before arriving down to the mill site. The high grader has to concern himself with discovery of this ore at any time so devious plans need to be in order to be successful. In the canyon he can be seen for a long time and he has the same situation with discovery on the face of the mountain coming down alongside Lake Lundy.

May Lundy Mine - Hilton Creek

The May Lundy Mine lies in the Homer mining district on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Prospected during the 1860 the Comstock rush, the lodes were not discovered until 1879.

Located at about 11,000 feet the ore was brought down to the canyon floor via tram and then ore carts to the valley below.

image.png Author on trail above Lake Lundy

After receiving the ore from the tram and the wagon loaded, the high banker proceeded down the grade. At the entrance to the canyon a 90° turn to the east brought you out on the face of the mountain for the 1.5-mile descent to the lake below. At this point the cart is visible to the valley and just a straightforward march down the hill without opportunities to “displace” some high-grade gold.

Mined gold is very much like a fingerprint in that it is very distinctive to its location. An Assay office can tell where the gold came from by just looking at it. Many “lost mine” claims were sold with high graded gold with potential buyer’s unaware of the scam only until they went to the Assay office.

image.pngHigh grade ore, El Dorado county, Calif.

So now the high grader is left with a dilemma, how to steal the gold from the wagon and be able to cash in on it without being caught with known gold from the May Lundy.

Right where the trail comes out of the canyon there is a level bench overlooking the waterfall dropping to the valley below. In the shade of aspen trees, a fire is built in a secluded kiln and coaxed into an extremely hot state. A bed of borax is heated with some crushed high-grade ore. As the mixture melts, the gold is separated from the rock and gathers in the borax forming a “button” of gold. After cooling, the borax, now looking like black glass, is chipped away leaving nearly pure gold and is now in a state that is untraceable back to the mine.

This story is all speculation on the high-graders part. We just found a pile of melted borax with quartz / granite alongside the trail as described above on our hike and I am just postulating on the happenstance of it being there.


I will be smelting these samples down to see what was in them.

Hope you enjoyed the journey.

Edited by GeoJack
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Interesting. When I was a kid, living in Simi Valley, my family camped at, what we then called Lundy Lake, a couple of times. I stll remember hiking up the canyon to where there were snowfields. I also remember, not long ago, my older brother telling me we met an old  miner up there, who had a poke full of nuggets. Apparently he told us he knew where he could get gold any time he needed it. I was only about 7, so don't remember the old guy.


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  • 2 weeks later...

That first pic is really cool. Did you smelt it yet?
Tom H.


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Here’s a different view. Looking at Lundy Lake in the lower right mid pic. You can just make out the trail above and left of the lake.

One of these days I’m going to make that hike. This photo was taken around May 2020. It’s pretty rugged country.


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