If one continues half a mile northeast past Howland Flat, over Potosi Creek, one will come to a fork in the road. This fork is where the town of Potosi was located.
No one knows the source for the name of the town of Potosi. However, potosi is the Spanish word for “great wealth” and the optimistic miners in the area began to call their camp by that name in 1858.
Today, this is all that remains of Potosi:
At the fork, the road to the right leads to Poker Flat and the road to the left winds a little way up the hill overlooking the town of Howland Flat. But, more on that in a moment…
Although looking at it now, one may find it hard to believe, but at one time a hotel, blacksmith, carpenter’s shop and several residences were all clustered around this fork in the road.
Mines that were/are active in the Potosi area include the Benicia Boy Claim, Bonanza Gravel Claim (Lincoln), Empire (San Francisco Company), Gross & Company, Hawkeye, Hunter Company, Lincoln-Potosi (Bonanza), Montreal Drain Tunnel, Monumental, Nebraska, Pittsburg (Hawkeye, Winkeye), Virginia (Bonanza) and the Winkeye Consolidated (Hawkeye, Pittsburg).
The Lincoln-Potosi Mine was probably the most prominent of these mines. It was situated along Potosi Creek (on the side with the road leading to Poker Flat).
Snowsheds covered the track at the Lincoln-Potosi Mine allowing miners to operate during winter:
As I mentioned earlier, the road that leads to the left from the fork winds up the hill behind Howland Flat and soon comes to a small cemetery next to the road.
Now, according to my (albeit limited) skills at reading the old maps that exist of this region, the cemetery area is part of Potosi. However, everyone seems to refer to this area as the “Howland Flat graves” or the “Howland Flat cemetery”. So, I have included this section in both the Howland Flat article as well as the Potosi one. Potosi and Howland Flat were right next to each other and so some overlap is understandable.
There is/was both a Catholic and a Protestant cemetery covering this area. The cemetery next to the road is the Catholic cemetery:
Below, is a picture that shows the Catholic church that used to stand next to the graves pictured above. In the background, Table Rock can be seen much more clearly than at present day:
I must mention that the historical pictures in this article come from the outstanding and exhaustively researched Roar of the Monitors by Jann E. Garvis. If you’re interested in this area’s history, you’ll find a staggering amount of information in this book and I highly recommend it.
If one crosses the road onto the land marked as being a claim controlled by Winkeye Mining, one will see a number of other graves in two areas. This is what is left of the Protestant cemetery. The tailing ponds of the Winkeye Mine operation bisect the graves, with one section being below the ponds on the flat area overlooking Howland Flat and the other being in the brush next to the other side of the pond. If one wanders through the brush in this area, one should come across a number of graves.
The below are pictures of some of the graves from both sides of the tailing ponds:
The late Dick O’Rourke (a colorful local character) standing next to the same graves in 1986:
I have it on very good authority that there is also a Chinese cemetery in the Potosi area, but I have never been able to find it. Apparently, the cemetery (empty of bodies) was hidden in dense manzanita, with the dead finding their final resting places in their homeland.
A listing of the graves that have been found in the Catholic and Protestant cemeteries can be found here.
Now, about the Winkeye Mine (also sometimes called the Wink Eye Mine) which was mentioned above…
The earliest records I have seen on the Winkeye Mine date back to 1856 when it was known as the Pittsburg Claim. The Pittsburg Company would also incorporate the Hawkeye before ultimately evolving into the Winkeye.
Below is a picture of one of the mine buildings that was on the Winkeye site:
The main tunnel of the Winkeye Mine:
The upper sections of the Winkeye Mine, until recently, offered the most to see of the former mines operating in this area. When I first visited, the structure pictured below was fully intact and there were numerous outbuildings around the site. On every subsequent visit, there would be less and less. And now, all of the equipment is gone.
The Winkeye Mine in 1986:
The pictures below were taken by me on subsequent trips during the 2000s, but I believe everything pictured below (aside from the signs) has, like the structure above, been removed.
The Winkeye Mine:
Some of the trailers and outbuildings that used to be scattered around the Winkeye Mine:
A water tank on the site:
Heavy equipment that used to be at the Winkeye Mine:
These are the tailings ponds on the Winkeye Mine site:
A pump on the tailing ponds:
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the upper sections of the Winkeye Mine as a kid and I’m sorry that almost all traces of it are now gone. However, fortunately, there are still some interesting things to be seen at the lower section of the Winkeye site…
This structure, although it has seen better days, has a good roof and is still standing:
Outside, and all down the hillside, are all sorts of bits of metal, old glass bottles and other interesting artifacts, such as this safe:
And down along Potosi Creek, one can still find the old Hawkeye Tunnel:
Please click the video below to see the inside of the Hawkeye Tunnel at the Winkeye Mine:
Below are three older pictures, courtesy of Don Goard, from when mining work was still being done near the lower section of the Winkeye:
I love getting comments from people that have their own memories of this site or know anything more about it, so please do share if you have anything. Also, if anyone has any questions, I will do my best to answer them or will follow up with those that can answer them.