Leaving Mono Lake, we took a left on highway 120. It was a short drive to Mono Mills Historic Site, past the remains of a volcanic crater from an eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Within site of the lake, Mono Mills was once the site of a lumber mill and railroad that provided wood for the mines and homes in Bodie, Aurora and Masonic about 30 miles over the mountains.
Established in 1881, The Bodie Railway and Lumber Company harvested timber from various tracts to the south. It was milled and then shipped to Bodie via Warm Springs and Lime Kiln. The sawmill was a two storey building capable (if the crew were sober!) of producing 80,000 board ft during a 10 hour shift.
This photograph of Mono Mills with the ‘Mono’ engine decorated for the 4th July, is from one of the informational boards
The railroad was never actually used as a passenger route, so no timetable or tickets were ever issued, but people could and did ride the train with the timber, but they did so at their own risk. Rather them than me!
Two boarding houses and 30 small houses, supported over 200 people who were involved in the operations at Mono Mills, including mill workers, cooks, railroad workers, loggers, mule teamsters, laundry workers.
Another photograph from one of the informational boards, this one shows one of the locomotive engines in front of the Mono Mills store.
The mill was powered by a steam engine, but with the development of electricity and the gradual decline of gold mining in Bodie, Aurora and Masonic the demand for wood dwindled and the mill was abandoned in 1917.
A few timbers and some concrete are all that remains of the railroad and sawmill.
Even though there’s hardly anything left to actually see, it’s a really interesting place to stop and read the informational boards.
Have fun, we are!