Like many of the man-made reservoirs throughout the Mother Lode, Don Pedro Lake hides some hidden secrets that only reveal themselves every once in a while. Because of the low water levels due to the on-going drought in California, Don Pedro is revealing something that has not been seen for over 20 years. The Eagle-Shawmut Mine, a gold, copper and silver mine, opened in 1850 and operated for almost 100 years until it closed permanently in 1947.
When the New Don Pedro Dam was completed in 1971, the waters of the Tuolumne River slowly began to fill the Tuolumne Gorge until the Eagle-Shawmut Mine was fully submerged. Currently Don Pedro is around 50% of capacity but during non-drought years the mine is completely hidden. In addition to the concrete footings of the old stamp mill you will also see tailing piles from placer mining and bucket dredging operations. If the waters continue to recede, more hidden treasures may also reveal themselves like the old town of Jacksonville which lies beneath the waters of Don Pedro near the Stevens Bar Bridge. Here is a link to a KPIX Eyewitness News report that originally aired on August 28, 1970 just before the the Tuolumne River Gorge was flooded. It shows the old town of Jacksonville as well as the old Hwy 49/120, which of course, currently lie beneath the waters of Don Pedro. Toward the end of the video you will see the Stevens Bar Bridge as well as the old Hwy 49/120 passing beneath it.