Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

Another Lost Mine in the Verdugos Located?


Some of my best history finds come from readers. I was recently contacted by David, who grew up in the ’80s on El Lado Drive just west of the bottom of Boston Avenue. David wrote the following:

“There is an old trail at the end of the cul de sac that takes you all the way to the end of Lowell Avenue by the 210 on-ramp and the YMCA. Down in the little gorge at the end of Lowell there was an old concrete structure that had ground up graphite rocks that the kids of the neighborhood and myself would take home to write with all over the sidewalks. A neighbor who lived across the street who passed away over 10 years ago told me it was an old graphite mine. He said they would mine graphite on the hillside just above the concrete structure where they ground up graphite boulders to be shipped off. You can see the hillside from the 210 on-ramp at Lowell where he said they supposedly did the mining. There is dirt and rock exposed on one of the hillsides close to the concrete structure. I think this may possibly be the location where they mined the 20-foot vein of graphite you mentioned in your 2014 article. There are also a couple other old concrete structures near this area.”

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

David is referencing a couple of columns I wrote a few years ago on an old graphite mine located near the crest of La Tuna Canyon Road. The site includes old machinery, mine cart rails and foundations. Indeed, there are several references to graphite mining in the Verdugo Mountains going all the way back into the late-1800s. Intriguingly there are references to there being more than one mine, although the La Tuna Canyon site is the only one I’ve located.

David directed me to a website database on mineral deposits, which listed that site as a “former graphite mine” and showed a position which corresponded to a location at the bottom of Lowell. David offered to meet me and show me the site so I met him after work a few days ago when it was already getting too dark for any serious exploration.

At the end of El Lado, David and I waded into the foxtails and poison oak. He pointed to some ancient grading on the side of the hill that was obviously an old road, and led me to a mostly buried concrete structure, just the top of a doorway peeking out of the dirt. The poison oak got too thick, so we exited and went around to the bottom of Lowell and entered there.

Sadly, this location had obviously been a favored dumping ground for trash. After wading through that some other signs of man’s hand became visible in the pre-dark gloom. Again, there was evidence of significant grading, possibly some roadways, and some flat spots that looked man-made. We were right next to the freeway and David postulated that these might be remnants of that construction, and he also pointed out some very old cement ruins among the grading that would have predated the freeway. Several dry-stack rock walls were visible, some just poking up above the overgrowth.

But the main attraction was a very large cement structure resembling a loading dock. The main deck was maybe four feet high with a back wall of concrete. Several recesses showed where a wooden structure was once attached. Some mounting points in cement apparently for machinery indicated some sort of industrial use.

It was now getting dark and the poison oak seemed to be closing in around us.

Overall it was a very intriguing site, worthy of more exploration. David went back later and grabbed some chunks of graphite, brought them back and wrote his name on the sidewalk like he did when he was a kid. I hope to go back and explore some more. If any of my readers know anything about this site, please let me know. In the meantime, it shall remain a tantalizing mystery.