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Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard


22. LAST HOPE

BUT HOPE DID NOT DIE with William Swift. Down through the Swift family went the legend of the fortune to be found in Tioga Hill. After the death of William it was learned that he was indebted to his older brother Rhodolphus in the amount of $145,000. In settlement of this obligation the Tioga property was transferred to Rhodolphus and, following his death in 1901, to his heirs. 66

It was Antoinette, widow of Rhodolphus’ son Edward, who once again started the pneumatic drills chattering in the Sheepherder Tunnel. She was successful in interesting a group of western men in the possibilities at Tioga, and after several long years of probating estates and clearing titles, work was resumed in 1933.

Using modern equipment the tunnel was driven several, hundred feet farther without striking the Sheepherder Lode. And even after the second ill-fated operation had ended, William R. Palmer, the engineer in charge at the tunnel reported: “With a large body of low grade ore at this point of minimum richness already cut by the tunnel, the probabilities of cutting these chimneys of high grade ore by drifting on the veins is very great. This property, while not a fully-developed mine, is far beyond a prospect and shows . . . very strong indications, practically definite, of the existence of large persistent ore chimneys extending to great depth, much richer in precious metals.” 67

This saga of Tioga ended in 1949 with the death of Antoinette Swift and the subsequent sale, for taxes, of the Great Sierra claims.

From high above Tioga Hill, Bennett, Parker and the Swifts, with their crews of now-forgotten miners, keep silent watch over the rusting machinery, the old buildings of Bennettville, and the empty tunnel, its dripping waters echoing ghostly voices of the past— all that remain to tell the story of the will-’o-the-wisp that was Tioga.

WEATHERED BUILDING, BENNETTVILLE
[click to enlarge]
WEATHERED BUILDING, BENNETTVILLE


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