History Around Every Turn
Photo: Brood_Master, Panoramio
The Dorleska Mine was a bustling operation during the first 30 years of the twentieth century. Dorleska was the name of the mine owner’s wife. The primary commodity of the mine was gold, then silver and lead found in the fault zone.
The Dorleska Mine sits on a ridge at about 6,700 feet. You can hike to the old Dorleska Mine that sits in Bullards Basin. Access starts at the Big Flat Campground. The trail goes past the Yellow Rose Mine on the way down the north side of the ridge to Big Flat. The Yellow Rose is about two miles on the Red Rock Mountain Trail, then about one more mile on the Dorleska Mine Trail.
The deposit was discovered in 1898 and worked intermittently until about 1938. Development prior to 1926 was described as “a shaft 350 feet deep with three levels and a winze 50 feet deep from the lowest of these is said to be in ore. Drifts are said to extend about 150 feet north and south in the soft oxidized ore.”
Later development included the adit about 900 feet northeast of the shaft. It is estimated that about $200,000 had been produced by 1926. Minor production was reported between 1912 and 1938, the last year of operation. About nine times more gold than silver was produced during the life of the mine.
Many of the trees around Dorleska Mine were felled in the early 1900’s to construct buildings, timber the mine shafts, and fire boilers to operate the equipment of the mine and mill. Mining was concentrated on the ridge between the Union Creek drainage and South Fork Salmon River to the north.
The heavy machinery rusting away at these historic mines inspires wonder as to how men and mules ever brought all that equipment in and set it up in a virtually roadless wilderness.