Silver Lake and Iowa Mines

This was a really fun place to visit for me and one I’ve been trying to get to for some time. Weather makes it hard to get to most of the year, and you have to climb up to the mining camp at 12,200 ft elevation.

A few mines are scattered around this alpine lake, but I visited the old mills and the mining camp. (The mines are gated, anyway.)

The mining camp of Silver Lake is stretched out on a sandy beach with mining debris everywhere. The Iowa is down at the far end of the lake.

Approaching Silver Lake

The Silver Lake Mill equipment was listed as:

2 Blake crushers, 50 stamps, 4 sets of rolls, 10 Wilfley tables, 8 Hartz jigs, 8 Woodbury tables, and 18 “end-shake” slime tables. Power is furnished by three 100-horsepower boilers and a, 150-horsepower engine, and the mill has a daily capacity of about 200 tons. The water for milling is pumped from the lake, into which the tailings are allowed to run at another point.

Fifty stamps! That must have made one heck of a noise.

The Iowa mill was described as:

The mill is equipped with 19 by 15 Blake crusher, 2 sets 14 by 27 rolls, 7
3-compartment jigs, 2 5-foot Huntingtons, 1 5-foot Chilian mill, and
5′ Wilfley and 8 Cammett tables. The power is steam.

Interestingly, one mine used a stamp mill and the other rollers. I didn’t see the Huntington or Chilean mills. It’s possible that they are buried in the rubble.

Both of these two mines had their own tramways running parallel down the mountain. The Iowa tram was 14,600 ft long and dropped over 2,000 ft down the mountain to the valley below. The trams must have been amazing to see. Unfortunately, little of either of the tramways are left today.