Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stonewall Mine (abandoned) and Cuyamaca City (less than a ghost town) - Cuyamaca Mountains

On this day (last August), my goal was to hike to the long abandoned Stonewall gold mine and the remains of Cuyamaca City. We were camped about seven miles from the mine.

The Hike

Instead of taking the road that led directly to the mine, I wanted to approach the area from the backside and only drove my car part way. That left me with about a four-mile round trip hike.

While there, I decided to hike around beautiful Lake Cuyamaca. That added a a couple of miles to my jaunt. I have no idea how much more was added during my search, for any remains of the mining camp (Cuyamaca City). In the background are Stonewall Peak and Little Stonewall Peak.

 Sometimes there were trails and sometimes there weren't

A gorgeous mountain meadow

The Mine

The Stonewall Jackson mine was established in 1870. For post-civil war political reasons, the Jackson portion of the name was dropped.  It is said to have been the most lucrative gold mine in Southern California history and started a local gold rush.

THEN (circa 1889)
The main shaft and much of the mine equipment was housed in these buildings.

A few random pieces of mine equipment 

The collapsed main vertical shaft

The tall main building (the hoist house) was directly over this shaft. Not a trace of it remains. There is nothing left of any of the other buildings either.  The mine ceased operations in 1890. In many places, mines are simply abandoned; that isn't exactly the case here. It is said that most of the lumber was reused in the town of Julian.

The Town
The town (or mining camp) was first called Stonewall, then Stratton and eventually Cuyamaca City. At one point Cuyamaca City had a population of about 500 people.  There was a post office, housing for mine workers and their families, a school and a boarding house/hotel.  I'd been to the mine before (by car) and knew what to expect there. This hike was to see what remained of the town. I had heard there were foundations and even a couple of old structures still there. What I found was just about nothing. All of it had been damaged in past wildfires and then totally destroyed in the massive Cedar Fire of 2003. I SURE WISH SOMEBODY HAD TOLD ME ABOUT THAT AHEAD OF TIME!
We were in this area again for the last several days. I will do another post with some better photos and a surprise find very soon. 



  1. Bummer! Hey, you had a beautiful hike though.
    That was a huge mine. Shame they took it with them.
    Bring on the surprise!

  2. Beautiful forests! We were just up at Buellton and Solvang about 3 weeks ago. Drove by the is VERY low this year. I'd like to return sometime this summer and do more exploring.
    Cheryl Ann

  3. sorry there was not much left to see, but those opening views were enough to satisfy me! beautiful area and colors to fill the eyes.

  4. Ah, I always look forward to the weekend trip that you take us on, Pat!! And, of course, I'm never disappointed!! Another fascinating one for the day! Thanks as always for sharing! Hope you have a great new week!!

  5. Well, you sure had some scenic hiking and some GORGEOUS blue skies!

  6. Hi Pat, Your photos are SUPER---so clear and beautiful. You really did get some hiking in, didn't you? We wear pedometers ALL of the time during the day ---and keep track of how much hiking and walking we do. Keeps us healthy.

    Great old photos of that mining town.. Bet you just stood there and thought back to what was there many years ago.... Wow.

  7. Alex - It was a beautiful hike, that's for sure.

    trav4adentures - Oh yeah, it's a gorgeous area. We are going to be up there by Lake Cachuma in about a month. We camp right by the Santa Ynez river. Last time it was bone dry! That is where Cachuma get's most of it's water. There is lots to do up there.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks, but it was my own fault. I guess I was was looking at something that was very old. There is a few foundations left, but I can't tell if they are from the mine, or the many camps and state park buildings that were also burned to the ground.

    Sylvia K - Thanks so much Sylvia! I really do appreciate that. You have a great week also. We're only home for a week and then back out to the desert before it gets too hot.

    Ms. A - I sure did! We've been out hiking around in that area a couple of times lately. I'll post those soon.

    Betsy Adams - Thanks so much! You know that it is a beautiful place when you don't have to think much about the photos, they just come out. I don't use a pedometer, but I do try to get a sweat going and heart pumping time in.

  8. I've never been there, but it sure looks like a pretty place. You got some really great pictures.

  9. You take such beautiful pictures. Looks like nice hiking weather!!

  10. love how you caught the beauty of the sky in most of the photos, Pat

  11. Pat, you had a great hike and you found a forest in the mountains. Every time I see a little forest in the mountains I never want to leave.

    I enjoyed your wonderful pictures very much. And I feel that I was in all these interesting places.

    Have a nice week!

  12. Sorry that the fire beat you to it:( But you still found plenty to see though!
    Also browsed your post below - incredible - had no idea that TX had gold (do you think there's still some left?)

  13. We can tell there was a lot of spirit in that place back then.

  14. The beauty in this magical place! Beautiful photos!

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  16. Kay - This area is used mostly by folks from the San Diego area. It's where they go to play in the snow also. Thanks Kay!

    Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! I appreciate it.

    DEZMOND - Thanks so much DEZMOND!

    Kaya - I agree with you about the mountains. Of course, I feel the same way about the desert. Thanks so much Kaya, I really appreciate the nice words.

    jeannettestermain - Oh well! I should have done more research before I went. At first I was confused about your reference to Texas in my last post. Now I get it! The El Paso Mountains Wilderness area, is located in California.

    Brian - Yep! It was a hard life and harder work.

    Leovi - Thank you Leovi! It is very beautiful place.

  17. What amazing scenery and beautiful blue skies.

  18. Great looking area.

    Here, when we have bush fires it tends to reveal things from the past rather than destroy them! A good number of aboriginal sites have been found after bush fires.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. The area is so photogenic which makes hiking through it worth the trouble even though you did not find the old town. What a shame fires have destroyed so much of California's history!

  20. Despite the lack of stuff at the mine it's still a pretty hike and worthwhile.

  21. It would be a bummer to hike all that way to discover nothing :-(

    The vista's are breathtaking, lovely blue sky.

  22. ladyfi - It is a beautiful place.

    Stewart M - It sure is! The same thing happens in this area Stewart. After a fire, the archaeologists are out in force.

    EG CameraGirl - Yep, it was well worth it. You should have seen it about ten years ago, before it was decimated by wild fires.

    Al - I agree Al, it is nice just to get out.

    Wayne - The views made up for the lack of old stuff. We were out there again this past week and had a great hike through that area.

  23. Well you may not have found what you were looking for but you sure had beautiful scenery while getting there..

    Something tells me you have a surprise in store for us :-)

  24. There are some beautiful view and wonderful shots. I can't get over how blue your sky was.

  25. The lake and area looks amazing. It's a shame about the place burning down. Still, at least everything else around was gorgeous.

  26. Nice photos! First of all they were very wrong to drop the Jackson name. My real last name is Jackson, I am related to Stonewall, and I'm currently VP of the Jackson Brigade Genealogical Society. I take offense!

    When I was a kid (around 1963 or so) in the sixth grade we spent a week at Camp Cuyamaca. I presume it was somewhere in the vicinity of where you were.

    I enjoy these excursions you relate.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  27. Hi Pat, its good to hear from you and me. Though I have been up and about, haha, never home on weekends, I have never ventured this area. My friend and hiker from SD has been here. This looks like a very great day for a hike and photos too!

    Work and outing is a great mix and I have hardly no time to blog and write about my travels. Its been a non-stop outing to the Sierras, Redwoods, Crescent City, Joshua Tree, Mojave Preserve etc.....

    Its also a great time to meet new hikers and photographers.

    I hope to write about my Yellowstone trip last month a week before their earthquake.

  28. sixdegreesphotography - That is so true! It was well worth the time. The surprise is more about something that surprised me. It was pretty cool (in my eyes).

    IcyBC - Thanks so much! You can tell by looking that it has been devastated by fire in the past. You are right about the sky. I have no idea why it seems so blue there.

    TS Hendrik - Wild fires are a fact of life around here. I agree with you though, it still looks awesome.

    Arlee Bird - Thanks Lee! How dare they change that name! Did you ever post anything about this on your blog. I know Stonewall Jackson has a pretty interesting history. Camp Cuyamca is just down the road in Descanso. It is still the sixth grade camp for the San Diego USD.

    Ebie - Hi there! It's good to hear from you also. I'm glad to hear that you still out there exploring and taking photos. I understand about the time. I'm so far behind on blogging and commenting.

  29. This is the area I hiked that had a great Bristle Cone Pine forrest. I went there specifically because of the glorious description in Jerry Schadd's hiking book. What I didn't know was that it was written before one of the devastating fires that swept through the area.

    Still I went back a few years ago and hiked to this beautiful eagles roost atop one of the mountain. I'd like to go back soon being that it was across from a camp ground.

  30. Lovely sky there on that hike... so even if you didn't find what you wanted to, it looks to me like a great one. so much history out there. We live in Lee County and there is a big old painting of RE Lee on the courthouse wall .. some controversy. (My opinion is that, for post civil-war political reasons, the picture should be taken down. But I am on the wrong side here in SW Florida.)

  31. This is a beautiful place Pat! My husband and I have been getting out only a limited basis, but he took my Dad out over the weekend and they had a ball!

    So many places to still discover! You always inspire me to throw my hiking gear in the truck and go.

    The Boulders rock formation by Florence is really spectacular. Just don't attempt to get to a few of the viewpoints unless you have really low traction 4WD.

    Just saying.


  32. Sagheer - How did you sneak your slimy spamming self past the filter.

    Pasadena Adjacent - Afoot and Afield! I love his books. Now that I think about it, I may have gotten some of my info about the mining camp from his book. Yep, they used to have scads of Coulter Pines and Bristle Cone pine "back in the day." I'm wonder if the mountain you are referring to is Cuyamaca Peak maybe.

    Sallie (FTL) - You are right, it was awesome just being out there. I wonder if they weren't pressured to change the name of the mine.

    Jenny - Hey Jenny! I so glad to see your comment. It sure is beautiful there. You should have seen it when it was more forested. I know what you mean, there is so much to see out there. I have a list and I doubt that I'll even come close to getting to everything. Is that place (the boulders) where the huge old beehive looking Coke smelters (or ovens?) are at?

  33. Sorry about the ruins (and I thought that area had been laid bare sometime in the past decade), but the landscape is beautiful. Thanks for the trip.

  34. altadenahiker - You are exactly right, it was the Cedar fire in 2003 that devastated a huge chunk of San Diego County. It is still beautiful though.

  35. I do love going on these hikes with you. The scenery is always spectacular. Thank you for the vicarious trip!

  36. Well, old Stonewall was a worthy name in the first place, though with a sister-in-law who counts General Longstreet among her family, I'd have gone with that one.

    Even though the buildings were gone, and all those remnants are what's left, it makes for a beautiful hike, and you picked a great day when you took the shots.

  37. So much to say and comment on. Loved the lake because I always appreciate a body of water, especially after moving inland in SoCal. That second photo is GORGEOUS! I'd hike 4 miles round-trip no problem just to come back with a photo like that! And as usual, the backstory is always great, well-written, and informative. And wherever do you find all the old photos? Great research. Now, I can't wait for the surprise!

  38. robin andrea - It's my pleasure Robin. Thanks so much!

    William Kendall - You are so right! It was really nice just being out there.

    Stickup Artist - I agree with about the water. It's always nice. Usually local historical societies, local governments and colleges have a lot of information and photos. It's also amazing what you can sometimes find with a simple Google search.

  39. They are great photos Pat.

    Beautiful looking area too. Love history places like you do. Would love to do a walk with you sometime though I'm sure yr much fitter than I!

  40. A blog surprise! I'll stay tuned.

  41. Beautiful country, too beautiful to be a mining camp (although I've been to a few places like that up in Idaho). Thanks for taking us along.

  42. Anthony J. Langford - Thanks Anthony! I think chasing your little one around has you in pretty good shape.

    Sharon - In reality, It's probably only a surprise to me. It's coming up soon.

    Sage - Yep, this is a gorgeous part of the country. It was my pleasure.

  43. Even though you were disappointed at finding nothing left to document, you sur had a good day for hiking and seeing the beauty in the area. I'll bet you slept like a rock that night!

  44. Rosemary Nickerson - I think you summed it up perfectly Rosemary. It was well worth it. I wish I slept like a rock.

  45. bummer! you had an awesome hike though. oh my, what a beautiful place! thanks for taking us along. i did enjoy your photos, pat. such fascinating views!

    happy tuesday~

    i linked to you today!!

  46. Hi! I've popped over from Betty's blog. I lvoe the photos of your hike, such a beautiful landscape. I have a dream to see an old abandoned town or mine and would be disappointed if I went and there was nothing to see!

  47. Betty - Thanks for both the nice words and the shout out! I appreciate them both.

    Mandy - Hi Mandy! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I recently went on another hike in the area. This time I had a couple of other people with me. We found a little bit more, but not where I was expecting it. Thanks again and stop by anytime!

  48. Boo on fire, but that is some beautiful vista. That blue sky is so indicative of the west, isn't it?


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