National Geographic : 1976 Jan
Wealth from a mountain's attic provides more than half the nation's tungsten, plus a major source of income for Owens Valley. Their grim warnings at rest, spare signs dangle from a wall (below) at Union Car bide's Pine Creek Mine west of Bishop. Here miners go up, not down. Most deposits in this most productive of U. S. tungsten mines lie above the 8,100-foot entrance level. Operations during the tungsten boom of the 1950's tapped some veins at 13,000 feet. The lunch room, or "dog house" (right), may lie an hour's ride by narrow-gauge rail way and elevator from the entrance. Upon leaving, each miner hangs his tag on a board (below, right) to ensure that no one has been left behind. An earlier mining success, the Cerro Gordo-Fat Mountain-mines east of Owens Lake turned out some $18,000,000 in silver and lead between 1868 and 1877. A small steamer hauled ingots across the lake, a salt sea before the later export of river water left it a cracked, dusty lake bed.