Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Located high in the Sierras, this mine, formerly owned by Union Carbide, opened in 1916 and served as the largest tungsten producer in the United States. Tungsten’s durability, hardness, and resistance to corrosion allowed it to be used in high speed tools, light bulb filaments, armor plating for tanks, and armor-piercing bullets. The “Mine in the Sky” extended thousands of feet into the mountains. The mine is a victim of globalization: with tungsten mines in China producing the ore at less than half of what it cost to extract it here, the mine was no longer profitable and production ceased in April 2000. The mine is being considered as a potential site for earth science research in deep underground laboratories. The company town of Rowena, half way up the road to the mine, is an interesting relic.