What can I say, one of the coolest mining camps around. Only 30 remote minutes from Mariposa. The Sweetwater mining camp has a long and well documented history. We visited the camp on a warm May day in 2014. I stumbled on the camp from a post on a motorcycle site. Mining started in the 1870’s and continued to the 1990’s. “Sweetwater” Clyde Foster worked the mine for decades which he got from his father. The mill building itself is now sadly collapsed and only the ore hoppers and a few stair cases remain among the fallen structure. The Chilean Mill Clyde used was revolutionary and processed ore with less cyanide. The mill was pulled from the ruins and is on display at the Mariposa Museum.

The property is still quite fascinating even though much of the equipment is gone. There once was a 2 stamp mill, a 5 stamp mill and a 10 stamp mill used cooperatively by miners in the area. Clyde’s bunk house still stands as well as the compressor shed and the assay office. The house has food in cans and jars along with several mattresses.

Sweetwater Clyde Foster is buried near the house with his dog. We did not find the grave marker. We did find a little garden in the front yard with a bench , a tree, and a pair of boots. It almost looked like the spot where Clyde’s marker was but could it be missing? Who would take a grave marker?

The main mine shaft behind the assay’s shed is collapsed. The entrance was marked with a modern mining claim, good luck! After our return I found quite a lot of history on the camp including a push to have the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places written in a USGS field survey. The document claims six open shafts, two of which are collapsed. We only found one

If you visit the site or enjoyed this write up please leave a comment below!

  • JB Bergmann

    Rating: 2 / 5

    UPDATE: We returned to Sweetwater in November of 2016. Sadly the mill and compressor shed are completely gone and the hillside stabilized probably by the forest service. The bunk house is in much worse shape. Extremely disheartening how fast historical locations such as this disappear due to vandalism and theft. Clyde’s Chilean mill made it safely to the Mariposa Mining Museum as well as the missing headstone. Downgrading this one to two stars.

  • Mike Benbrook

    Rating: 2 / 5

    We did a jeep trip by the mine 2/12/18. The bunk house is in pretty bad shape, full of debris from parties. The bench and little garden area are still there. The recent rains had eroded away some of the road revealing the railroad tracks for the ore cars

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