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The Mines & Town Of Masonic

Masonic is located in the Northern Mono County of California. The town itself is only a short distance from the old town of Bodie. This is high elevation country with the town and mines sitting around 8,000 feet. The area was first discovered around 1860 by a group of mason prospectors who were from near by Bodie, but little prospecting was done at the time. Then in 1900 a young man from Bodie named Joseph Green discovered some really rich ore in the area that became know as the Jump Up Joe mine. However this young lad had no money to developed this deposit, so he sold the claims to Warren Loose, who also lived in Bodie. The deposit became known as the Jump Up Joe mine.

Then in 1902 a fellow by the name of John Phillips and a couple of partners found a rich vein of gold and started mining. The deposit became known as the Pittsburg Liberty Mine. Once mining got into full swing, the group staked more claims and started to hire more workers. Then 1907 the miners came across a two foot wide vein of gold ore that was assayed as high as $200 per ton. At that point the mine decided to build a stamp mill to process the ore themselves. Up until that time, the ore was loaded on wagons and hauled over to the mill in Bodie but that was expensive so having a mill close by made sense. The 10 stamp mill could pound out 30 tons of ore a day. In 1908 a cyanide plant was built so the mine could work the tailings. A few years later a small tram was built to bring the ore down from the mountain.

Because there were other mines located in he same area, each mine had it's own own settlement of houses. There was a lower settlement and a middle settlement eventually merged with the main settle to become what is known as Masonic. Lower Town had a hotel and a couple of saloons while Middle Town had a butcher shop, a general store and a hotel. Soon the roads were built up so regular stage traffic was avaiable to Wellington, Nevada. There were also roads heading to Bridgeport put in so lumber for the mines could be brought in.

Then is 1909, there was another rich gold discovery about 4 miles away. This deposit became known as the Chemung mine. By this time there were several mines working within a 12 mile raduis of Masonic. The Pittsburg liberty and Jump Up Joe mines being the most prominant there was also the Serita, True Friend, New York, and Red Rock mines. By this time there was close to 1000 people living and working Masonic. Unlike many towns of this era, Masonic had no churchs or brothels or gambling houses. Just a few saloons. Life here was relativily quiet

By 1911 the ore began to run out and mine production began to fall. It was at this point that some of the mines shut and people moved on even though there were occasional discoveries of new ore veins in the Masonic gulch area.

Of course all these towns had a mystery or some kind of tragedy. It was in 1909 that John Phillips, one of the owners of the Pittsburg Liberty mine fell down a mine shaft and was killed. There was speculation that he may have been pushed down the shaft, maybe by one of the partners, or maybe even suicide, but either way it was odd because it was about that same time as the ore was starting to run out on the Pittsburg Liberty mine.

Today Masonic is just a ghost town. There is just remnants of old buildings and mine workings and you can still drive there.