Located off the Masonic Road between Bridgeport, CA and the Masonic town site, are the remains of the Chemung gold mine. The Chemung gold mine operated from from 1909 to 1938 and produced over one million dollars in gold. In the 1920s, the Chemung mine was producing low grade and high grade ore. The ore was processed onsite, and then shipped to near by Bodie for smelting.
Along with the increase cost of mining supplies which reduced growth, a poor gold market and the cost of hauling the ore to Bodie over the poor roads for smelting and little mine was doomed and closed its doors in 1938.
The Chemung mine history is not a mining failure, but a failure of management and litigation. During its time of production, the mine built and tore down three mills. During the last year of operation in 1938, 20 men worked the site and less than one year later the mine was closed. The mine itself produced well, however endless litigation for various reasons doomed the mine.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s new life was found in the mine with the efforts of Elton “Heinie” Heinemeyer. Heinemeyer mined for years but never struck it big. Well liked by the town of Bridgeport, CA Heinemeters well being was the source of concern for the people of Bridgeport and it is reported that he would always find time to visit and entertain those who traveled to check up on him.
Currently, the mill building structure is intact but the years of harsh weather have taken its toll. A mild wind will cause some of the walls to shake or shudder, and the lower outer wall is leaning outward. In June 2016, bars restricted access to the mines themselves although the mines do offer a cold breeze on a warm day to cool you down.
There are stories that the site is haunted by a spirit or ghost, but only on Saturday nights, which seems a bit odd to me.
On a personal note, the Chemung mine surprised me. I have been to Aurora three times, Masonic at least three times, and Bodie… at least ten. My last visit to Bodie was in 2013. Afterwards this last trip, I was looking in Google Earth when I “discovered” the Chemung gold mine. How had this mine, such an impressive structure, evaded my radar for so many years? It took me three years from that day to make my first visit to Chemung, and this place is definately on my list for a repeat visit.