Silver! Chunks of this precious metal, described by one miner as being "as thick as a book and as large as a chair seat," were reportedly being found in Canada de la Madera! Things were about to change for this sleepy canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains that was previously better known for providing timber. It was 1877, and the silver rush was on. The Bedford Formation, which contains the oldest exposed rocks in Orange County, also happens to contain silver, lead and tin. The problem, unknown as yet to the early miners, would be the fact that this formation was so fractured and faulted that it would be almost impossible to follow the veins. All they knew was that the first claim, the Southern Belle, was already mining a vein of blue and white quartz with a silver content of $60 dollars a ton. The frenzy would build as over 500 claims were recorded. The canyon and its boom town were renamed Silverado. The town boasted two blacksmiths, two butcher shops, three hotels, three stores, and seven saloons! There were two stages a day to Los Angeles and three to Santa Ana.
However, by 1883 the boom was over. The fractured geological structure made consistent recovery impossible. Mines like the New York, Mountain View, Loring, Gold Hill, Ophir and Excelsior were closed. So was the collection of claims known as the Blue Light Mine. U.S. Marshall J.D. Dunlap staked the first claim, known as the Dunlap, or the Blue Light. Other claims in the area, the Flanigan, Harvey and the Thistlewaite, were merged to form this most famous and productive of all the Silverado Mines, the Blue Light. Not too long ago the Blue Light made the headlines again, only this time it was due to the tragic deaths of two young adventurers who had strayed into its flooded tunnels. The tunnel entrances have since been grated to block access.
Our goal today is to find the remains of the Blue Light. We'll be hiking, so if you're coming wear your boots! Also, wear a long sleeved shirt and spray on some bug spray! Those deer flies are nasty! To join us on this day hike just click on the photo link below.