Friday, March 25, 2016

Lundy: From Gold to Fish


The gold mining town of Lundy in Mono County, California, is the primary setting of my latest novella, Her Independent Spirit in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series.
Original townsite for Lundy at west end of Lundy Lake
Lundy is located on the western end of Lundy Lake on the eastern slope of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains about six miles east of Mono Lake. Today it is a ghost town as far as gold mining goes.  Ever since the dam was built at the eastern end of Lundy Lake, much of the land on which the original structures of Lundy were built is now under water.
Trees in Mill Creek Canyon west of Lundy
The nearby gold mining town of Bodie was being established at a rapid rate. Set in a barren section between two mountain ranges, the need for wood to build structures and to fuel needed operate the mine as well as for cooking and heating required frequent trips to the nearby mountains. A milling operations was started on Mill Creek near the future site of Lundy.
Miners' shack like found in Eastern Sierra mining areas
When mining activity began in earnest in the slopes around Mt. Scowden, new arrivals stayed at a small settlement two miles up the canyon called Emigrant Flat. Too small to accommodate many people, it became obvious a better townsite was needed. Land on the west side of Lundy Lake was chosen. It was covered by a heavy growth of pine trees. After a sawmill was erected on the lakeshore, a town quickly grew.  This lake was originally called Wasson Lake for one of the founders of the mining district, but was changed to Lundy Lake in honor of William Lundy, the first recorder for the mining district.
Lundy in winter - Mt. Scowden in background
The first store opened was in a tent. New buildings went up daily, including cabins, framed houses, a post office and a Wells Fargo agency. Meat was supplied by butchers from Bodie and Bridgeport. According to an early merchant, George Montrose, the new town was first known as Mill Creek. By 1881 it was officially known as Lundy. Between April and June 1880, the population of Lundy increased by between 15 to 20 people per day. O.J. and William Lundy built the May Lundy Hotel, a large lodging house also known as Lundy Hall. The business district soon contained two general merchandise stores, seven saloons, two lodging houses, a couple of boarding houses, two bakeries, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, an assay office, a butcher, freight line, and three stage lines.

Children began attending the new school in 1881. A telegraph line was installed from Lundy to Bodie and telephone service was established between Lundy and Bennettville in 1882.

There was also a weekly newspaper, the Homer Mining Index, published every Saturday. The Index predicted that within one year a hundred stamp mills would be “resounding in Mill Creek Canyon.” And the population would exceed 5,000. The population peaked at 500 in the spring of 1881. Publishers came and went, and the paper was out of business by November 1884.

The closure of the May Lundy mine on August, 21, 1884 had a devastating effect on Lundy. That is the incident you will find as part of the story in Her Independent Heart. You may read more about the May Lundy Mine by CLICKING HERE.

Although other mines in the region continued to operate, the loss of revenue from this mine and mill alone, coupled with the national recession of the 1880’s, severely affected the economy of Lundy. Many miners moved on to other mines. Business owners left their buildings vacant and people walked away from their homes.
Independence Day celebration 1890's. Note rebuilt Lakeview Hotel and Lundy Lake. Four women sported shotguns.
Even though the town of Lundy was built next to a large lake, there was no hydrant system and no fire department. When the Lakeview Hotel burned in 1880, the blaze somehow did not spread to other structures. The hotel was rebuilt. Other fires in 1883 and 1884 spared the town, but the 1887 fire of suspicious origins on August 6th that started in the May Lundy Hotel around midnight mushroomed into an inferno that destroyed twenty-five commercial buildings in the lower part of town. The businesses were not rebuilt.

By the turn of the century the population of Lundy had dwindled to a very few. The people still enjoyed social gatherings, including the Fourth of July celebration.
The fishing resort of Lundy in January, 2015
In the 1920’s Mono County began improving roads making access to Lundy easier. In the 1930’s Carl Miller built the Lundy Resort. It remains a popular destination for camping, fishing, hiking and other recreation.

Here is the book description:

Beth Dodd has made a promise to help “Lulu”, a young prostitute at the Blue Feather, keep her baby if she decides to leave the whorehouse and become a respectable woman. But Beth hadn’t counted on the obstacles she and the new mother will face from society in the mining town of Lundy. From the obstinate landlady, Mrs. Ford, to her intractable German boss, Gus Herschel, Beth must fight for the woman she’s promised to help. But Beth Dodd never gives in, and she keeps her word with a stubbornness that Lundy folks are not accustomed to seeing from a woman.

Once Lulu, now known as the more respectable Louisa Parmley, starts working for Gus in his kitchen, she proves that Beth was right to take a chance on her. She has every intention of making a good life for her new daughter. But can she also hope to find happiness with Gus? And will Gus be able to accept her and baby Sophie Ann as his? Love was never in the cards for Gus, but Louisa dreams of happiness with the stoic man, and Beth is determined to bring them together through HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT.

You may purchase Her Independent Spirit from the following:

Amazon  |    Smashwords  |  Kobo  |  iBooks
Barnes & Noble  (coming soon)

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical romances. The first book in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine, covers January through Valentine's Day in 1884, and the second, A Resurrected Heart, is set in April, 1884. Her Independent Spirit covers the end of April through September, 1884. You can purchase them all by going to my Amazon Author Page by CLICKING HERE.


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