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Thread: Mono Lake Basin Ruins

  1. #1
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    Question Mono Lake Basin Ruins

    In a book "Aurora, Ghost City Of The Dawn" Written by Robert E. Stewart, there is an indication of a townsite named Masons included on a copy of a map cartographed by a Warren Holt in 1863. (pg-19) Then re-cartographed by Holt again in 1866 the town site was deleted or disregarded. (possible the town / camps residents moved on to Aurora). Note- These are the same maps that accidentaly placed Aurora in California and Nevada.

    Then looking at a Dept. of Forestry map dated 1994, there is indication that there are ruins of buildings located at Kirkwood Springs. very close to the same area of Holts 1863 map. (near the North East corner of Mono Lake on opposite side of hwy)

    Is it possible that these ruins are that of a townsite / camp called Masons ? Has it been overlooked in the past by historians ? There is no mention of a locale called Masons or Kirkwood Springs listed in the Mono County data sheets which only list the springs.

    Anyone have any information on this location or interested in researching ?
    High Desert Drifter
    Ghost Town Explorations
    www.ghosttownexplorer.com

  2. #2
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    Default

    The ruins at Kirkwood Spring are from one of the many ranches that ringed the basin and lake before Los Angeles Department of Water & Power began systematically buying up private property. At present, I can't tell you the name of the ranch.

    You might check these books:

    MAN FROM MONO, by Lily Mathieu LaBraque

    PAIUTE, PROSPECTOR, PIONEER: A HISTORY OF THE BODIE-MONO LAKE AREA IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY - by Thomas C. Fletcher.

    Or you can check with the Mono Basin Historical Society in Lee Vining. Lily Mathieu has a project gathering information of all family ranches in the basin.
    David A. Wright
    Quote: "Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again!"

  3. #3
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    At first, I thought you were describing one of the Bodie Railway & Lumber Company line camps that possibly existed at Kirkwood Springs. Turns out that was east of Kirkwood.

    There is, however, an un-named settlement shown on the 1911 Hawthorne 60 min. quad at Kirkwood Springs. The same location on the 1956 Trench Canyon 15 min. quad is noted as ruins.

    I have no record of any place in the vicinity named Masons. David may be correct about the site being part of a turn-of-the-century ranch.
    Rockcrusher
    110,000 square miles of desert to play in . . . And the government owns 87% of it

  4. #4
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    Default Mono Lake Basin Ruins

    Appreciate the information and reply. Long time no hear Rock Crusher ! I went ahead and checked out the site last week and discovered it is now on the private property of the "Flying M Ranch". Like David said, It could be the ruins of an old ranch, however it is in the same vicinity of a site named Masons found in the book "Aurora, Ghost City of the Dawn". By Robert Stewart. It is possible that the site at the time was in fact a ranch named Masons ? I am going to do some more research on this one and possible contact the present day owners for some history.

    Thanks for the help

    High Desert Drifter
    High Desert Drifter
    Ghost Town Explorations
    www.ghosttownexplorer.com

  5. #5
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    It coould possible be the town later referred to as Masonic, not too far from Aurora, off of the Nine Mile road. This is a good possibility

  6. #6
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    Drifter.........Have you talked to Norm DeChambeau about this site? He may be able to shed some light on it. I think you know where to get a hold of him. I'm not sure if he's still out at the ranch, or has come into town for the winter. Godd luck................

  7. #7
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    Hey Pat, good to hear from you.

    No, really never got around to talking to ole Norm about it... Norm stays at the house next to the church during the winter (Lee Vining) then usually moves down to the ranch in the spring.

    As far as the site I was refering to... there are 3 historic ranches and a kiln located on the North side of the hwy. the site labeled "Masons" on the old map are located well to the south of the hwy. I think I have passed the marking off as the old spring that was later used by the bodie railroad. possible before its popularity it may have been named Masons spring.

    Next time around I would really like to explore the Sweetwaters and the Pine Grove Mountains to the North and the Garfield Hills to the Southeast. you up for something in the late spring this year?
    High Desert Drifter
    Ghost Town Explorations
    www.ghosttownexplorer.com

  8. #8
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    Frank............Yeah, I'd be up for some exploring in the Sweetwaters, Pine Groves, etc. next year. It looks like we'll be managing June Lake Marina and will be bringing the quad and Jeep, so we'll be up for just about anything.If you get over to June, stop by and say hi, or drop me an email when you organize a trip. As far as the ruins location, I don't know of anything at the mouth of Trench Canyon or near the old lime kiln, and don't think it may be Sammons Springs way south of Pole Line Rd. (Hawthorne Rd).I know it's not Masonic though. Maybe somebody will figure it out...........

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up

    Awesome! I was hoping you would be moving back to the area. I like to visit at least once a year, so I will definately be in touch as spring comes. Lets plan on the Sweetwaters, Pine Groves and the area Northwest of the Excelsiors! we should be able to do it in an extended weekend I would think?
    High Desert Drifter
    Ghost Town Explorations
    www.ghosttownexplorer.com

  10. #10

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    There is a Town,called "Masonic",in California,Mono County.
    Closed down around 1900,if You read at Front

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