In this, the first of an occasional series, we focus on Swansea Ghost Town in California. Situated on the banks of Owens Lake (which is now largely dry since L.A. bought the water rights) Swansea was once a 'port'. From here locally mined copper, silver and zinc were shipped down the lake to Los Angeles and ultimately to Swansea (south Wales) for smelting. The town declined following the Lone Pine Earthquake of 1872 and a disastrous flood in 1874.
Swansea is not far from the, now, world famous ghost town of Cerro Gordo and in years past ore would make its way down the Cerro Gordo tramway for shipment. Cerro Gordo has recently been purchased by former investment banker Brent Underwood who now lives permanently on the property and is doing a wonderful job of exploring and restoring it. Check out the Cerro Gordo videos on this page!
In the historical details, reproduced below from the Wikipedia, we note that "Swansea was named after the town Swansea in south Wales, which was known as "Copperopolis" due to its large smelting industry from which many experienced extractive metallurgists emigrated to the United States."
From the Wikipedia:-
Swansea is a former settlement and unincorporated community in Inyo County, California. It is located 8.5 miles (14 km) south of New York Butte, at an elevation of 3,661 ft (1,116 m).
Swansea was a boomtown located on the eastern shore of Owens Lake. Spawned by the success of the silver mining operations in the nearby Cerro Gordo Mines in the late 1860s, Swansea became a hub for smelting the ore and transporting the resulting ingots to Los Angeles, over 200 miles away. The smelter operated from 1869 to 1874.
Swansea was named after the town Swansea in south Wales, which was known as "Copperopolis" due to its large smelting industry from which many experienced extractive metallurgists emigrated to the United States.
The 1872 Lone Pine earthquake damaged the smelters and uplifted the shoreline, rendering the Swansea pier inaccessible by Owens Lake steamships. As a result, most of the smelting and transportation business moved to Keeler, approximately one mile to the south.
In the summer of 1874, a thunderstorm-induced debris flow inundated Swansea under several feet of water, rock, and sand. By then the town had been almost deserted, and the debris flow marked the end of Swansea.
As of 2007, only one building and a smelter foundation remained alongside California Route 136 (about 10 miles southeast of Lone Pine). The community is now a ghost town.