Hilton Creek Mine


Have been looking at these mines for long enough, and when better than quarantine to head up there and take a look!

There are actually three different claims all grouped under the Hilton Creek Mines.  Moving from left to right on the face of Mt. Morgan we have: the Phelps Hilton Creek mine, Nicoll Hilton Creek mine (in the middle), and the Filipelli Prospect.

From our back door the trail up is approximately 1.5 hours, not bad.

As a little back story, our family purchases patented mines throughout the Eastern Sierra, which is an interesting niche in itself.  Recently we have been looking into mining claims and find the topic to be just as intriguing.  Fortunately for us, YouTube offers many different videos detailing the entire process and most of the info on where to look and what to claim is online.  For the record, the Hilton Creek mines are no longer available and we are not selling them.  When the wilderness boundaries were expanded, these claims and the road up were taken back the the federal government.  If it makes you feel better, we all own them.  So here's a closer look.

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Some interesting mine info from around the web. (cut/pasted)

The U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Geological Survey identified many areas of the John Muir Wilderness as having
marginal and subeconomic resources of tungsten, molybdenum, copper, gold, and silver.  Geologic, geochemical, and geophysical
evidence suggests that undiscovered deposits may also exist within the wilderness.  Tungsten is the principal metallic commodity
in the area, and with accompanying resources of gold, copper, silver, and molybdenum, is found along conflicts between granitic
rocks and metamorphosed calcareous sedimentary rocks in the Pine Creek and Mount Morrison roof pendants and in many smaller
septa located elsewhere.  Gold and silver resources in the wilderness are present around Kearsarge Peak, 2 miles northeast of
Kearsarge Pass, and along Hilton Creek; marginal resources of silver, copper, lead, and zinc exist along Hilton Creek.  A small
subeconomic resource of uranium may exist near the northwest boundary of the wilderness.  Small cobalt resources occur near the
head of Bishop Creek.  Stone, sand, and gravel are abundant, but such material is available closer to markets.  This study revealed no known potential for coal, oil, gas, or geothermal resources.  The north boundary of the wilderness adjoins the south edge of the
Mono-Long Valley "Known Geothermal Resource Area" (KGRA); however, the greatest geothermal potential is associated with
Quaternary volcanic rocks which do not extend into the study area.  A single hot spring exists within the wilderness, but the rock
type indicates a local source not associated with the KGRA heat source.  Along the west side of the Pine Creek pendant, adjacent
to the wilderness, are tactite zones forming the largest, most productive tungsten reserves in the United States. 

The locations of mines and prospects in or immediately adjacent to the John Muir Wilderness and areas with potential for undiscovered resources in the wilderness are shown in figure 2. Detailed information about those mines and prospects which have more than 1,000 tons (900 t) of resources is given in table 1. The areas with potential for additional resources are discussed below.

Area A: The Mount Morrison pendant area contains five mines or prospects with more than 1,000 tons (900 t) of resources: the Hard Point mine (loc. 4), the Lucky Strike prospect (loc. 5), Nicoll Hilton Creek mine and Filipelli prospect (loc. 8), Phelps Hilton Creek mine (loc. 9), and the Scheelore mine (loc. 6). These properties are in tactite or metasedimentary deposits, with related gold, silver, lead,
copper, zinc, and tungsten mineralization. Three geochemically anomalous zones lie within this area. Anomalous amounts of zinc, chromium, lead, silver, copper, and gold are present in stream sediments south of Convict Lake. Near Esha Canyon, 2 mi west of Hilton Creek, and upper McGee Creek there are lead-copper-zinc anomalies attributable to the small deposits of these minerals scattered throughout the pendant (Rinehart and Ross, 1964). Stream-sediment samples anomalous in gold and molybdenum were collected in Laurel Creek, north of Bloody Mountain. The Hard Point mine (loc.4), located at the head of Laurel Creek, consists of sulfide-rich tactite near the contact between the Round Valley Peak Granodiorite and calcareous metasedimentary rocks of the Bloody Mountain Formation. Area A is considered to have high favorability for undiscovered deposits of tungsten, lead, copper, zinc, gold, silver, and possibly molybdenum in calcareous metasedimentary rocks. 

Nicoll Hilton Creek mine and Filipelli prospect
    Tactite at contact of marble with diorite or quartz monzonite 
    Resource indicated marginal
    4,400 Tons 0.71 percent tungsten trioxide (WO3) 

Phelps Hilton Creek mine
    Sulfide-rich tactite near contact of marble and quartz monzonite
    Resource indicated marginal
    550,000 Tons 0.23 percent tungsten trioxide (W03) 
    1,100 Tons 0.45 oz gold per ton (15 g/t)  


    The Nicoll Hilton Creek mine, owned by D.H. Nicoll of Bishop, Calif., is located at the east base of Nevahbe Ridge in the canyon of Hilton Creek.  The workings are at an altitude of 9,700 to 9,850 feet and can be reached by a private road from U.S. Highway 395.  The mine is snowbound for 4 to 6 months of the year, but the property could be kept open through the winter, although this has not been done in the past.  The deposit was first exploited sometime after 1940, and the total production to the end of 1954 was about 7,000 tons of ore containing about 1 percent of W03, according to R. B. Schwerin, the present operator (1955).

    The workings consist of a crosscut driven about 200 feet on a general westward heading, an opencut about 100 by 60 feet with a small underground room at one end, and a raise from the crosscut to the floor of the pit (pl. 5).  Since the mine was mapped in August 1954, the adit has been extended a short distance northward along the contact between the quartz monzonite and the tactite.  About 1,000 feet south of the adit, exposures of scheelite-bearing tactite have been prospected at the surface.

    The deposit is localized in a re-entrant along the northward-trending contact between the Wheeler Crest quartz monzonite and the Hilton Creek marble.  In the mine area the metamorphic rocks project eastward into the quartz monzonite, so that in plan view the ore body is surrounded on three sides by the intrusive rock.  Also, the strike of the marble, which is generally concordant with the northward-trending contact, bends in toward the re-entrant and is markedly discordant.  The easternmost end of the marble salient is almost wholly converted to tactite.  The relationships suggest that the peculiar configuration of the contact has been a contributing factor in the localization of the ore.  The large mass of diorite that occupies the part of the re-entrant in the granitic contact along with the tactite is probably the result of contamination of the granitic rock by metamorphic material.

    The tactite consist chiefly of red-brown grossularite-andradite garnet (Gr60-70) and green diopside-hedenbergite pyroxene (Di40-55), with lesser amounts of dark-green hornblende, quartz, and calcite.  Small crystals of scheelite, ranging in size from pin points to 2 or 3 mm in diameter, are disseminated through the tactite.  Some of the scheelite occurs in “streaks” formed by tabular concentrations of tiny scheelite crystals.  In most specimens the streaks are parallel to indistinct mineral layers that may reflect original bedding.  The ore also contains small amounts of molybdenite and its alteration product, powellite.


    The Phelps Hilton Creek mine, owned by R. W. Phelps of Bishop, Calif., is about 2,500 south of the Nicoll Hilton Creek mine along the same quartz monzonite contact.  The workings range in altitude from 9,900 to 10,000 feet.  The mine is accessible from U.S. Highway 395 by means of a private road, 5 miles long, that was built in 1939.  In the fall of 1939 and the summer of 1940, the Bishop Tungsten Co., as lessee, shipped 553 tons of ore from which about 350 unites of WO3, were recovered.  Production from 1941 to the end of 1955 totaled about 6,000 tons of ore averaging about 0.6 percent WO3, (3,600 units), according to G. B. Hartley, the present lessee (1955).  The workings consist of two opencuts – one about 180 by 15 to 30 feet and another about 90 by 50 feet, a winze, and a 65-foot crosscut from which a raise to the surface was driven (pl. 6).

    Scheelite-bearing tactite occurs in two bodies along a segment of the contact between the Wheeler Crest quartz monzonite and marble interbeds of the siliceious hornfels unit that overlies the Hilton Creek marble farther north.  The contact in general strikes N. 20 degrees W. and is nearly vertical.  The beds are concordant in strike but dip gently to steeply westward away from the contact.  The ore body is localized in a large re-entrant in the quartz monzonite contact (pl. 1), similar in some respects to the ore body at the Nicoll mine but showing concordant rather than discordant relations.  The concordancy is reflected in the formation of tactite parallel to the granitic contact in contrast to the discordant relations of the tactite at the Nicoll mine.

    Most of the production has come from the southern-most tactite body, which measures 135 by 25 feet in the plan and is developed by means of the elongate opencut.  Although the tactite body generally parallels bedding in the marble, its shape is irregular in detail, as shown the the unreplaced marble remnants along the west side of the opencutand by reconstruction of the original outcrop (pl. 6, section A-A’) based on information supplied by G. B. Hartley and L. A. Wright (written communication, 1954).  The tactite is similar in composition to that at the Nicoll mine, except that it contains more quartz, particularly along the quartz monzonite contact.  The scheelite is typically fine grained, but no information is available concerning its distribution within the tactite.  The ore contatins small amounts of molybdenite locally.


    The Filipelli prospect is location about 1,000 feet north of the large pit at the Nicoll Hilton Creek mine and is accessible from it by road.  A minor amount of surface exploration was done during the summer of 1955, but no ore was shipped and the grade is not known.

    The geologic setting of the Filipelli prospect is somewhat similar to that of the Nicoll mine although on a smaller scale.  A tongue of contorted Hilton Creek marble extends eastward in the Wheeler Crest quartz monzonite and is in part replaced by tactite.  The tactite consists chiefly of dark-green pyroxene and red-brown garnet, with lesser amounts of hornblende, quartz, calcite, and epidote, and occurs as small irregularly shaped masses at several places along the contact.  Fine-grained scheelite is disseminated locally in the tactite.  Granitic rock exposed near the base of the face of a small pit beneath marble and tactite suggests that the deposit is probably very small.