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History Mystery #35

In a long forgotten and remote corner of Mariposa County, at the intersection of West Westfall and Preston Roads, one can still see the crumbling stone ruins of an old copper smelter.

Nearby, and in what is now Madera County, are the remains of the three main copper mines of the Foot Hill Copper Belt; the Buchanan, the Daulton, and the Jesse Belle.

HM #35-IMG_31. Of the three, the oldest was the Buchanan Mine. It was about six miles south of our mysterious smelter. The Buchanan Mine was shipping copper ore as early as 1865-67.

2. The Daulton Mine was about 13 miles south of our smelter, but only a mile from the Southern Pacific’s branch line to Raymond. This mine was the greatest producer in the area.

3. The Jesse Belle Mine is located about ten miles from the smelter on Preston Road. The mine was a late bloomer, in that it was not discovered and developed until the World War I era. In the three decades between 1919 and 1949, this mine produced 38,750 pounds of copper, and as a by-product, 90 ounces of gold.

Our Mystery involves several questions:

HM #35-IMG_11. Was this smelter built to process the copper ore from one of these three mines?

2. If so which one?

3. Why was this particular site selected?

4. What years was it in operation?

If anyone has any information about this old smelter please leave a comment at the bottom of this page or contact Fresno Flats Museum.

Submitted by Roger Mitchell
Fresno Flats Historical Park & Museum

HM #35 map

One comment

  1. This is the Green Mountain Smelter. The Green Mountain mine is just out of sight in this photo. This mine is in Mariposa County. There might have been a smelter in Buchanan Hollow for the Buchanan mine.

    I have a lot of information on the Green Mountain mine, and some on the smelter. Some of these mines opened up during the Civil War. Some, like Green Mountain, were worked earlier for the gold in their gossans.

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