Tunnel Camp


In 1917, the Coalition Mine in Seven Troughs encountered a flow of water at the 1600-foot level, which flooded approximately three miles of underground workings within 400 feet of the surface. Slowly, due to cross-fissures surrounding the mines, the water level rose in the other mines at Seven Troughs. After many failed attempts to drain the mines, the Coalition, Seven Troughs, and Mazuma Hills mines closed down. Before long, only 8 or 10 people remained at the once-prosperous town.

At this time, L.A. Friedman began to buy various mining properties in the area. He had an idea to construct a deep tunnel to drain the mines in the district. In 1919, work actually began on the "Deep Tunnel," however it progressed at an extremely slow rate, as all work was done by hand. By 1926, the tunnel had reached only 506 feet. During this time, Friedman reorganized the claims and joined with Jay P. Graves, of Spokane, Washington and T.F. Cole, of Pasadena, California; this formed the Seven Trought Gold Mines Company. Following this reorganization, work on the Deep Tunnel began to progress at a faster rate, reaching 5495 feet by April 1928.

The actual camp of Tunnel was established in late 1926, and soon had a bunkhouse, a company store, and a number of houses, most of which were moved from the abandoned Vernon townsite. In September 1927, a power plant was constructed consisting of three 120 h.p. Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines contained within a galvanized steel building. By March 1929, the Deep Tunnel had reached 7200 feet and was expected to reach the Coalition vein in just 200 more.

In addition to drainage for the mills at Seven Troughs, the Deep Tunnel was also anticipated to transport ore from the mines to Tunnel Camp, and in 1929 and 1930, a massive 100-ton ball mill was erected, as well as a cyanide plant. The first pouring of bullion was August 6, 1930.

When the tunnel finally reached its end at the Tyler shaft, a fatal error was detected. The tunnel was completed at a level 700 feet above the drainage point. This error would later cause a significant lack in ore, which led to the massive Friedman Mill's demise in December 1934.

Aside from the Friedman Mill, two other mills operated in Tunnel Camp. One was the still-standing five stamp mill constructed in the ball mill room of the Friedman Mill, however, its date of construction and who constructed it is unknown. The other mill was erected sometime after 1934 by Jim Causten and Earl Walton. The Causten Mill was a three-foot Straub mill, capable of processing eight tons of ore every eight hours. It operated until 1937 and was dismantled in 1970.

Also at Tunnel Camp is the cemetery for those who perished in the flood of July 18, 1912. The story can be read on the Mazuma page.

Seven Troughs District
Seven TroughsMazuma
Tunnel CampVernon