The Argonaut is the site of the worst gold mining disaster in California History. On August 27th, 1922, 47 immigrant miners became trapped at the 4,650 foot level when the mine caught fire. It took two days to extinguish the fire. The Kennedy Mine nearby was reopened and rescuers tunneled toward the Kennedy for nearly a month only to find the Argonauts Miners had perished only a few hours after the fire began. The cause of the fire was never determined.

The Argonaut Mine was discovered in 1850 by James Hagar and William Tudor. It wasnt until the mine was purchased by the Argonaut Mining Co. in 1893 that serious development began. It operated to a depth of 5,570′ until 1942 when War Production Board Order L-208 closed all gold mines in the US.

In October of 2014 we made our way through the neighborhoods built over top the old milling operation that surround the old mine and drove right up to the locked gate of the Argonaut. The massive headframe and other buildings make for an eerie peek into a dark past. Several artifacts lay in a small park along highway 49 only a few hundred feet north of the headframe. The saw mill and a few other structures remain down the hill across the other side of  hwy 49.

  • JB Bergmann

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    Rating: 3 / 5

    Update: Two years after our 2014 visit the federal government has added the Argonaut Mine to it’s list of Superfund Sites due to the tailings trapped behind a decaying tailings pond dam at the Argonaut. (see video)

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