Cerro Gordo



GPS Co-ordinates 

36D 32S15M North  117d 47m 45s West    Elevation 7756 feet

Cerro Gordo, Spanish for  "Fat Hill" ,was a silver mining city high in the Inyo Mountains of Owens Valley.  Cerro Gordo's major development  took place in the early 1870's, primarily by Mortimer Belshaw and Victor Beaudry. By 1872, the town was producing 100 to 150 83-pound bars of silver- lead each day. These bars, called "loaves" because of their resemblance to loaves of  bread, were shipped in huge wagons to the  nearest ocean port city, which happened to be Los Angeles. At the port, the silver was loaded on to ships that carried it to San Francisco and other destinations for final refining. Some miniature ingots of the lead/silver/zinc ore are available at the Cerro Gordo Museum.


        This picturesque  ghost town located just outside of Lone Pine California offers a unique view of mining at the turn of the century. It is a great destination for site seeing, special occasions at the hotel and mineral collecting at the ore dumps. The hotel has been restored and available for weddings and get togethers. Tours are available and welcomed.


    Overnight stays are also available at the Bunkhouse and in the two story house for a reasonable charge. The bunkhouse has about seven bed rooms, one reading room, family room and kitchen. The low pressure shower is in the front of the building and the rather tidy out house is out back. The refrigerator and stove is gas and generators are available for electricity at night. I chose not to use the generator, it added to the mystic.

    The one inconvenience is a ghost that lives there. I heard the rumors before I stayed the night, but since I do not believe in these things, I dismissed them. The resident ghost would frequently make loud noises that sounded like he was dropping stones on the floor. I ignored all of the normal creeping and moanings of an old house, but the dropping stones could not be explained. I finally yelled out in the middle of the night ( I was alone in the house) "please keep it down. I am trying to get some sleep". That either worked or I just slept through the rest of it.


    Mineral Collecting at this site can be quite rewarding. CERRO GORDO is world reknown for:Anglesite, anhydrite, argentite, atacamite, aurichalcite, azurite, barite, bindheimite, bouronite, calcite, caledonite, cermrgyrite, cerussite, ceruantite, chrysocolla, dufrenoysite, flourite, galena, geothite, greenockite, hemimorphite, hollosite, hydrozincite, jamesonite, leadhillite, limonite, linerite, liroconite, malachite, mimetite, plumbgumite, pyrite, quartz, silver, smithsonite, sphalerite, stibnite, stromeyerite, tetrahedrite, tetrajymite, willemite, and wulfenite. Of special interest to rock hounders is the smithsonite which is world class.

Ore Dumps

Mineral Samples

    I believe the matrix rock to be rich in zinc and copper compounds. The matrix  has a foliated appearance as if formed in layers on a cave wall. The surface is botryoidal and covered with needle like crystals radiating in star like formations. I have not yet identified this specimen . This is what it looks like under short wave UV light

These are some other samples.

These are some of the other mineral specimens to be found at Cerro Gordo. The blue green bubble gum mineral in the center is Smithsonite. This is not from Cerro Gordo but very similar to the ones found here. The ingot was purchased in the museum for $7.50.

You might want to try this site to find out more about this location.