Fire Agate

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,Rare Gems,Rare Rocks!,Sent in Flickr photos — Gary November 11, 2010 @ 1:40 am

Wow, this picture was taken by Tom Shearer.  You can see more of his rock pics here:



Oregon Sunstone

Filed under: Mineral of the day,Rare Rocks!,Video — Gary October 31, 2010 @ 10:49 am

world’s largest  Oregon Sunstone:

A variety known as Oregon sunstone is found in Harney County, Oregon and in eastern Lake County north of Plush. Only Oregon sunstone contains inclusions of copper crystals. Oregon sunstone can be found as large as three inches across. The copper leads to varying color within some stones, where turning one stone will result in multiple colors. The more copper within the stone, the darker the complexion.

On August 4, 1987, Oregon State Legislature designated Oregon sunstone as its state gemstone by joint resolution.

Oregon sunstone

Oregon Sunstone

Sunstone is a plagioclase feldspar, which when viewed from certain directions exhibits a brilliant spangled appearance; this has led to its use as a gemstone. It has been found in Southern Norway, and in some United States localities. It is the official gemstone of Oregon.

The optical effect appears to be due to reflections from enclosures of red haematite, in the form of minute scales, which are hexagonal, rhombic or irregular in shape, and are disposed parallel to the principal cleavage-plane. These enclosures give the stone an appearance something like that of aventurine, whence sunstone is known also as “aventurine-feldspar.” The optical effect called shiller and the color in Oregon Sunstone is due to copper. In the middle part of this crystal, it sparks a lot, and usually has a dark color in the middle, and the color becomes lighter as it becomes the outer part.

Sunstone Mining

Sunstone Mining



The feldspar which usually displays the aventurine appearance is oligoclase, though the effect is sometimes seen in orthoclase: hence two kinds of sunstone are distinguished as “oligoclase sunstone” and “orthoclase sunstone.”


Sunstone was not common until recently. Previously the best-known locality being Tvedestrand, near Arendal, in south Norway, where masses of the sunstone occur embedded in a vein of quartz running through gneiss. Due to the discovery of large deposits in Oregon, Sunstone is now readily available.

Other locations include near Lake Baikal in Siberia, and several United States localities—notably at Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Lakeview, Oregon, and Statesville, North Carolina.


Unpolished Sunstone

The “orthoclase sunstone” variant has been found near Crown Point and at several other localities in New York, as also at Glen Riddle in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and at Amelia Courthouse, Amelia County, Virginia.

Sunstone is also found in Pleistocene basalt flows at Sunstone Knoll in Millard County, Utah.

n the short video below you will see the process of prospecting for Oregon sunstone with the use of a drill. As drilling begins we watch the cuttings coming out of the hole. With experience you can tell when it is time to check the cuttings more closely. The drilling penetration rate will vary depending on the type of material being drilled. The color and size of the particles will also vary.The bore hole is cleaned out by compressed air. Compressed air is pumped down the inside of the drill pipe and through the bit. The cuttings are blown to the surface and caught by hand for examination. If you are drilling in a potential mining site there will be ground up particles of feldspar in the cuttings. When you find feldspar in the cuttings you note how much drill pipe is in the hole being drilled. This will tell you how deep to dig with heavy equipment. The video will give you a better understanding and appreciation of what it is like to prospect for sunstone.

Thanks Wikipedia

Sheffield mine

Filed under: Rare Rocks!,Rockhound Travel,Video,rockhounding maps — Gary October 8, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

Sheffield Mine
385 Sheffield Farms Rd
Franklin, NC 28734
Ph. (828) 369-8383
Native star rubies at Sheffield mine in Franklin, NC. Novice and experienced rock hounds welcome! 488 carat ruby found in 2002! Look for native rubies or for gemstones from around the world. We supply all necessary tools Rock & gift shop open 10am daily, April thru October. Group rates available.

Ruby Video


How do I find Rubies &  Sapphires?

1-Pick out a bucket that has rubies in it!
I know – they all look the same!  So good luck!!!
2-Pour no more than 1/8th to 1/4 of a bucket of dirt into your tray at one time.  If you pour in more dirt, you will have so many rocks that you won’t be able to see anything but rocks and more rocks – your rubies will probably be playing hide and seek under the ton of gravel in your tray and the more you roll them around the sneakier at hiding they will become!
3-Immerse the tray into the water and moosh around the dirt and break up any mud-balls! This is the time to get your hands muddy – don’t be afraid!    You won’t melt in the water and the dirt is only temporary – you will someday be clean again – promise!
4-Bring your tray out of the water and rest it on the edges of the flume.  Now move the larger stones to one end of the tray and put the rest of the stones into a circle in the center of the tray and using one or both hands, roll them around. Don’t press hard – no need to hurt yourself!  The rocks will bang against each other and knock dirt off for you.  Let them do most of the work!
5-Put the tray back into the water and rinse off the mud that you just scrubbed off.
6-Bring the tray out of the water again and gather the smaller stones to the center and roll them around again.
7-Repeat Steps 5 thru 6 about 3 more times, or until you no longer see mud coming off of the stones and your hands don’t seem muddy any more either! Do not fail to complete this step!!!
8-Now it’s time to look for rubies and sapphires!  Oh, 1 hint – SUN LIGHT helps – a lot!!!!!! Spread the stones out in the tray so that there aren’t rocks sitting on top of other rocks.  Look for a Pink, Purple of Reddish hue.  Look for a glossy surface.  A ruby or sapphire will be heavier than an ordinary rock of the same size.  A ruby or sapphire will not fall apart or impart a pigment on the screen bottom when youn try to scratch the tray.  They will make a scratchy noise.  But so will quartz – quartz is orange, or brown, much like the dirt, but rubies and sapphires have a different look about them.  Our sapphires tend to be in the pink/white category, so you probably won’t find any blue ones – sorry – but the pink ones are beautiful too! You might be fortunate and find one that has the classic 6 sides. Any or all of the above can indicate that you have found a ruby or sapphire!  If you are sure of it, put it in your film canister, if you are unsure, put it in the tin can & we will help you to identify it!

We’re having
2010 Season!

Ruby Mining

Ruby Mining

As of 7-26-10
414 Honkers have been found along with
14 Super Honkers
& there’s lots more in the dirt still waiting to be found!!




Sheffield Mine map

Directions -
From Downtown Franklin – Take Hwy. 28 North.  Cross the river, pass the Cowee Baptist Church and right across from the BP Gas Station you’ll turn right onto Cowee Creek Rd., (the first asphalt road on the right past the church – you’ll see a sign for Perry’s Water Garden). Pass Cowee Elementary School and bear right at the first Y in the road and you’ll pass Rickman’s General Store. and then go left at the second Y in the road – which is Leatherman Gap Rd.  About 200 yards on the left is our entrance. Big Sign – Can’t miss it!  At this point you are only 1/2 mile from the parking lot!
From Asheville -
Take I-40 West and get off at Exit 27.This puts you going in the correct direction with no choices on your part until you get to Exit 81 (Atlanta, Franklin, Dillsboro exit). Take Exit 81 and you will be put onto Hwy 441 – no directional choices – you will be going SOUTH. At this point, you are approximately 30 to 40 minutes from us. At some point, you will start up a steep incline and eventually, you will start down a steep incline and when you start to see civilization again and when you stop riding the brakes (oh yeah, it is a steep incline!) then look to the RIGHT. You’ll see Mountain City Mobile Homes. Right there is a road named Sanderstown Rd. Turn Right there and stay on Sanderstown Rd until it ends! Turn Right again (now you are on Bryson City Rd aka Hwy 28). You are not in downtown Franklin, but now you need to Follow directions from Downtown Franklin.
From Cherokee -
Go South on US 441 and turn right onto Sanderstown Rd.  You’ll know that you are at Sanderstown Rd. because there is Showcase Mobile Homes on one corner and Burglens Rock Shop on the other.  Follow Sanderstown Rd. all the way to it’s end and turn right onto Hwy 28 North and follow directions as if coming from Franklin.  Don’t look for the river – you’re already past it.
From Atlanta – Follow US 441 North into Franklin, then turn right onto Main Street.  You’ll immediately turn left onto Hwy 28 North.  Now follow directions from Franklin.
From Chatanooga – Follow Hwy 64 East to US 441 North and turn left.  Follow directions as if coming from Atlanta.

From Nashville & Knoxville Take I-40 East to Exit #27 (the second Waynesville Exit also known as the Clyde Exit).  Now follow directions as if coming from Asheville.

Graveyard Point Plume Agate

Filed under: Rare Rocks!,Rockhound Travel,Rockhound stories — Gary September 29, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

Philip has submitted an article to Rockhoundblog about Graveyard Point Plume Agate.

Grave Point Agate

It was a beautiful June rock hounding day in the Owyhees. Gene Stewart, his son, his son’s friend and I thought we’d go out to the Graveyard Point area and see what Gene Mueller, Jake Jacobitz and Thom Lane were digging up at Gene Mueller’s Regency Rose claim. Thom Lane was out in these parts for a few days before, spotting at the mine for Mueller. He came into town and stayed a few days at my house to get cleaned up and relax, before heading out with us. Gene Mueller is, of course, famous for his rock shop, The Gem Shop, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. He is also a miner of various rocks, including Morrisonite, Laguna and Agua Nueva Mexican agates. Thom Lane is a well known dealer in the agate world and long time friend of Gene and Jake. Thom dug Morrisonite with Jake and Gene in the last years that the Christine Marie Morrisonite mine was producing. In later years, he dug Mexican agates for three years with Gene. Jake Jacobitz, best known for “Jake’s Place” Morrisonite Claim, and well known to all Northwest miners as, “Crazy Jake”. Diving out to the Graveyard point area is relatively easy in dry times, but all week it has been raining cats and dogs. This makes the dusty, powered-sugar, consistency roads, greasy slick. However, the past two days, the rain has stopped, just enough for the sun to dry up the roads a little bit.Jake Jacobitz driving his truck, heading to camp with a load of diesel.

Graveyard Point

Gene Muller's big Cat

Gene Stewart (Right) and Jake Jacobitz catching up

Gene Stewart (Right) and Jake Jacobitz catching up

Heading up the dirt road to the claim, we see Gene’s huge Cat sitting idle.  It’s large bucket, for gouging the hill for agate, empty. We get out of my Suburban and there to greet us is Jake. Gene Stewart and Jake go way back and two friends meeting after many years, always makes for a cheerful reunion. Gene and Jake share a few funny stories and catch up on who’s still around and who’s not.  This was my fist time meeting Jake, after years hearing some pretty wild stories about him and visualizing what he looks like. I was pleasantly surprised, that I was not too far off, as to what I expected. Very likable, easy to talk with, and very willing to share his insights, places he’s dug before and what’s still out there.  Jake has a slight accent, I can’t quite place…Minnesota? Wisconsin? I’ll have to ask Thom later about it. Kinda gives him a down to earth persona, a little more color to “the miner” character I envisioned.

Angel Wing

Heading over to the big pit and looking down into it, I see Gene Mueller digging in a large hole in the side of the pit, almost like a small cave. Gene stands in the hole surrounded by Angel Wing and veins of agate. Angel Wing is formed basically, like how stalactites form in a cave, by thousands of years of ground water seeping through, then dripping off the ceiling and walls, leaving minerals behind to accumulate. In this case, the cave is a large vug hole in the ground. The Angel Wing can be removed in plates, because the surrounding host rock is softer. Therefore, carefully using a chisel and hammer, the delicate plates can be extracted successfully.

Looking for pink plume agency rose

I jump down into the pit with Jake and we head over to the hole. I greet and shake hands with Gene Mueller. He begins to elaborate on what he’s doing, and how he’s going to get most of the Angel Wing and the gem plume out. Sitting on the edge of the hole, Jake and I inspect the seams Gene pecks out and throws up to us. Jake looks at one and says, “Hey, here’s some plumes,” and then gives the seam a long lick to wet it. I look at him and raise my eye brow. “Geez, Jake! Looks like you’re eating a damn ice cream cone. Is that how you test to see if it’s good plume or not, by how it tastes?” He laughs and says, “ya, don’t ya know that? I thought all you smart young fellers knew that”. After an hour or so of pulling out seams of agate and wing, Gene begins to dig again. This time on the other side of the pit, with his Big Cat excavator, looking for that elusive pink plume, he calls, “Regency Rose”.

Coming up out of the pit, Gene Stewart and I decide to go over to his old Graveyard Point Plume Agate claim, which he had back in the 70’s which is about 200 yards away. Walking up the road from Mueller’s camp, we detour off and then down along a path for about 100 yards.  We find a shallow hole, where the claim used to be, now filled in with silt from runoff. Gene stands on the top edge of what used to be a deep hole. I can see in Gene’s eyes, he’s deep in thought, probably bringing up some old memories of when he and Tom Caldwell dugs tons of plume out of that hole. Bringing him back, I ask, “Where was that old truck you where telling me about?” Gene told me a story of when he and Tom Caldwell were blasting one day. Seems Tom put a little too much powder in and blew a huge 100 pound seam straight up in the air.  It landed right on top of Gene’s truck cab roof. The roof was so caved in, that you had to lean out the window to drive! Gene still laughs about it. It was so funny at the time, that he decided to drive the truck home with the boulder still on the roof. Gene smiles and chuckles…“I tell ya.  I got a lot of funny looks and people laughing at us, all the way home!”
Heading back to camp, we see everyone sitting around the camper, under the canopy, taking it easy. For me, this is a great chance to prod stories out of these guys. I start with Thom. He tells me the detailed story of how he once owned the great Morrisonite collection that Gene Mueller is currently selling for the current anonymous owner. He went on to say that Betty Warrington was the original owner.   Then, Jake pipes up and tells some long tales, that I can’t really relate here to the whole world, but they are pretty, “thought provoking”. Well, it’s getting late and at the end of this mining day.  Only a few sacks of Regency were filled, in addition to several sacks of standard gem Graveyard-type plume. Gene Mueller said it was a good productive mining day.



Heading back to camp, we see everyone sitting around the camper, under the canopy, taking it easy. For me, this is a great chance to prod stories out of these guys. I start with Thom. He tells me the detailed story of how he once owned the great Morrisonite collection that Gene Mueller is currently selling for the current anonymous owner. He went on to say that Betty Warrington was the original owner.   Then, Jake pipes up and tells some long tales, that I can’t really relate here to the whole world, but they are pretty, “thought provoking”. Well, it’s getting late and at the end of this mining day.  Only a few sacks of Regency were filled, in addition to several sacks of standard gem Graveyard-type plume. Gene Mueller said it was a good productive mining day.

While heading back on the winding dirt road towards town, I see a huge mud hole filled with water right in the middle of the road.  It’s about double the size of my Suburban. The road veers around it, but I stop about 50 yards from it, looking straight ahead.  I start thinking. Everyone in the truck is talking and then realizes that I have stopped driving. Thom Lane is sitting in the passenger seat, looking back towards Gene Stewart, talking.  He then stops, looks around and asks me, “Are we stopping for something?” I look over at him and give him a devious smile…”Looks deep,” I say out loud. Then Gene Stewart says smiling, “Oh shit, don’t even think about it!” Then everyone catches on.  I say, “What would Jake do??”  Thom then says, “Ahh crap!”  I gun it! I hear wale’s and cheers, as we bounce up and down , side to side, on the rough road, heading towards the large water hole. It would have been a great classic scene in a movie…A bunch of old farts, bouncing up and down in a truck, laughing and screaming heading for a mud hole.  Plunging the truck fast into the hole, I feel that it is deep. A large fan of water on both sides, towers over the truck.  As the wheels start to spin, the speed keeps us going forward, up and out of the long, deep hole. Everyone is laughing and whooping it up like teenagers, as we drive down the road, leaving a cloud of dust far behind us…
Decades….decades past on.

On a porch, the old man sits in a chair rocking slowly…frail and purpled veined hands lightly grip the arm rests, as he rocks…The sun is setting… the old eyes glint in the reddish hue of last light…looking long and far out into the distant. He sees the shadowed mountains of the Owyhees…memories…memories of friends long gone…ghosts of voices in his mind…Someone is laughing… His leathery wrinkled face starts to glow and a faint smile folds the deep wrinkles around his eyes. A small hand touches the top of his hand…”Grandpa? What are you thinking about?” He looks down into bright eyes of a child. The old man hears a voice behind him, in the house…”Honey, what’s grandpa Phil doing?” “Oh”, the child says. “He’s thinking about digging up the Graveyard.”  “He’s what?!” The old man gives a light chuckle at the very young child’s response…He looks back at the mountains, which are now only outlines in front of billowy plumes of towering clouds  against the Sun’s faint light, in the new night sky…



The history of Biggs Jasper, DESCHUTES PICTURE JASPER, Oregon.