RockHoundBlog

Grawin, Glengarry, and Sheepyard Opal Fields.

Filed under: Rockhound Travel,Rockhound stories,field trip reports,regular postings — Gary December 5, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

I bumped into Steven and asked him if he would like to talk about the opal fields near his home.  He submitted this article and pictures.

Hi Gary,
Here is the brief history and present day story about Grawin, Glengarry, and Sheepyard Opal Fields.
Cheers
Steven

The Sheepyard opal field is located approximately 75km west of Lightning Ridge, NSW and forms part of a triangle of opal fields consisting of Grawin, Glengarry and Sheepyard
Opal was first discovered at Glengarry in 1905 by Mr Charles Phipp who was working on Morendah Station at the time, but little mining was done there. The Grawin was established in 1908 with the discovery of the opal at “Hammond Hill”. Further discoveries in 1920 at “Richards Hill” put the unofficial village on the map. Since the first discovery of opal in the region, people have come and gone in tides with each new strike, seeking their fortune in search of the rainbow in the rock. At the time mining was done by candle light with a hand pick and the waste was removed by shovel and bucket and wound up by hand with a wooden windlass. In 1928 an opal weighing almost 450g, and the size of a man’s fist was found at Richards Hill and caused a rush of men to this field. The opal was named “The Light of the Worlds” and is still the best known opal from this area. After the Second World War things began to get more mechanical with the electric generator for light and motorised hoisting gear to make the removal of waste quicker and a bit less like slave labour. Then came the electric jackhammer and the amount of dirt that could be removed increased and the bucket was replaced by wheelbarrows and all sort of inventions to make the job better for the miner and in turn caused an increase in the number of people who came to have a go. The next major rush was started on Melbourne Cup Day in 1985 when the Sheepyard Rush was found. The Sheepyard area was named after a stumble on of opal near the fence of the old Sheepyard. By now the piles of dirt were starting to fill the landscape and this lead to the Short Throw self tipping hoist and tip trucks to remove waste. This led to the invention of the rickshaw to wheel waste to the hoist bucket. By the time the 90′s came along a new rush called Carters Rush had started and Blowers (Giant Vacuum Cleaners) were in use as well as underground hydraulic diggers and mini loaders and as many different inventions as there are miners are now being used in search of the thing that all miners, young and old lust after, “The Rainbow in a Rock”

Prospecting_with_drill

Prospecting_with_drill

Opal

Opal

Although mining at Glengarry was also going on for some time it was not until about 1970 when a find of some very good opal was made that Glengarry became the new “Hot Spot.” The Mulga Rush, which began in 2000, is the biggest opal rush since the Coocoran was discovered in the early 1900′s.

Mulga Rush (Dusty)

Mulga Rush (Dusty)

The opal fields of Glengarry, Sheepyard, and Grawin. These towns are accessed via the small village of Cumborah. The roadway between Lightning Ridge and Cumborah is now fully bitumen and is bitumen to the Grawin turnoff. This makes it easier to tow the caravan out to the field. (This section is flooded now; you have to take a 30km dirt road detour!) Mining area roads are gravel in reasonable condition and driven at the right speed, are suitable for caravans and the like.

Mulga_Rush_fossickers

Mulga Rush fossickers

You can also fossick in the gravel pits nearby Comborah. Another 17 km along in a north westerly direction will bring you to the Grawin field. You can fuel up here and also get basic provisions. From here it is another 7 km to the Glengarry field where there is a pub and a golf club. Sheepyard is accessed from Glengarry and is the youngest of the fields.

Glengarry_Hilton_Opal_Bar

Glengarry_Hilton_Opal_Bar

Glengarry_Hilton_opal_Chat

Glengarry_Hilton_opal_Chat

Glengarry_opal_field

Glengarry_opal_field

Glengarry-opal-field

Glengarry-opal-field

Glengarry Hilton is the oldest pub on the Opal Fields and can be a great place to grab some lunch or a cold drink after your hard work driving and fossicking. You can grab lunch there from 12to 2pm daily and dinner is from 6 to 8pm every day. There are showers, toilets, and even backpacker accommodation if you are too tired to drive any further. If you manage to catch any yabbies in their dam they will even cook them up for you. There are locally produced arts and crafts for sale opposite. You can go fossicking at the famous Mulga Rush heaps for a day in another world…Noodling on the dumps is an interesting experience and can be rewarding. It’s fair to say that it can be hard work if you make it so, but there’s a lot of dirt between the good stones. The temps in summer can rise to 40 to 50 degrees Celsius. The opal fields of Glengarry, Sheepyard, and Grawin said to be like Lightning Ridge of 70-80 years ago, great opportunities to see opal mining operations and miners’ camps. Meets the locals on the final frontier of high hopes, tall tales and long beards, see the frontier-style opal field life.
The area is adjacent to the Sheepyard Pub available to campers and as tourists/fossickers in the area.

sheepyard_inn

sheepyard_inn

showers

showers

sheepyard_opal_field

sheepyard_opal_field

Sheepyard-Opal-Field

Sheepyard-Opal-Field

Showers and toilets outside the pub give ready access for those camping. While the toilets are typical of those in the outback areas, the male and female showers are very functional. You need to gather your own wood, which is abundant in the area, and light the chip heater which heats the water very quickly. After the dusty dumps, the shower is much appreciated. The cost for the shower is $2 as the water has to be purchased by the pub owners and transported in, this is a fair price. There is no charge for camping. Of course, being near the pub had other benefits. Mobil phone coverage, satellite TV in the pub and a cold drink if you needed one. You need to supply your own power and gather firewood for a campfire as you would in any other free camp.
The Sheepyard Pub has an active role in the mining community and is a meeting place for the community. A theme that runs within the pub and the community is respect for our ex service men and women. Visited ex service people are invited to sign their names on whiteboards, which are displayed throughout the pub along with armed service and Australian flags. The Memorial Committee along with the Walgett RSL has constructed a War Memorial honouring those serving in all wars.

Grawin_opal_field_old_camp

Grawin_opal_field_old_camp

Grawin_opal_field

Grawin_opal_field

Grawin General Store, next to the “Club in the Scrub”. The Store has a very good range of groceries and supplies suitable for the mining area and fuel is also available there. The “Club in the Scrub” is an outback pub and is the Golf Club headquarters. The golf course looks quite challenging with its sands crape greens. A toilet is available for camper’s use but for all other items you need to be self sufficient. Mobil telephone contact can made, otherwise a public telephone is available near the store.

Montana/Idaho RockHounding Trip

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,Rockhound Travel,Rockhound stories,field trip reports — Gary September 1, 2011 @ 10:54 am
Hi Gary,
The article for my Montana/Idaho trip is attached.  I look forward to seeing it on your blog. Thanks!
Jim
Thanks Jim for submitting!  Here it is!
Montana/ Idaho Adventure
June 1st – 12th, 2011

Hi Everyone!

Our big adventure of the summer was a trip to Montana and Idaho. I had planned this trip for 2010 but scheduling problems forced us to postpone it. This time everything fell in place, and our trip was on! My wife Litha took detailed notes along the way.

June 1st

We left at 7:30am on a warm Wednesday morning, and drove all the way to our first campground near a lake which turned out to be a mosquito nightmare. We spent about two hours killing the little vampires inside the van before we could get some sleep.

June 2nd

The next morning we drove into Wisconsin where a deer almost darted in front of our van, but wisely turned at the last minute. There was lots of road construction in Duluth, and I decided to take US2 to 200 west which seemed like a much more peaceful drive than through the Minneapolis area. We drove through the north woods of Minnesota, and on through Fargo all the way to Bismarck, North Dakota, where the campground I had planned to stay in was right next to the now flooding Missouri River. We found a hotel for the night instead.

June 3rd

I told Litha that this would be a ‘day of wows’. Neither of us had ever been to the Rocky Mountains, and today we would see them for the first time. West of Bismarck we started seeing the buttes that the west is so well known for. Driving in western North Dakota the buttes continued until at one point the road curved and the amazing badlands formation of the Painted Canyon opened up before us. We couldn’t help but stop at the National Park overlook area and get some pictures. This area was in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
NOW we knew we were out west!

On into Montana where the road passed the Yellowstone River, known for its Montana Agates. You could tell the river was much higher than normal. Trees don’t normally grow in the river like that. Here the hills started looking more like mountains until just a little way west of Billings we had our next ‘wow’ moment. The snowcapped Beartooth mountain range came into view.

snowcapped Beartooth mountain range

snowcapped Beartooth mountain range

Our campground for the night was about 50 miles east of Butte, called the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Another beautiful area surrounded by low mountains with a river, train track, and lots of cattle.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
June 4th

The morning sun warmed the eastern side of the mountains.

Eastern side of the mountains
Eastern side of the mountains

We drove on past Butte and over the continental divide at an elevation of 6393ft for the first time. On into north west Montana toward the Idaho panhandle. Lots of snow capped mountains. Near the Idaho border we stopped at a rest area, had lunch and fed some very tame prairie dogs (at least I think that’s what they were).

Near the Idaho border

Near the Idaho border

Practiced the art of downshifting on the long steep “Lookout Pass”. Saw signs for a street fair in Wallace, Idaho and stopped to walk the town. Beautiful historic little mining town.

Beautiful historic little mining town.

Beautiful historic little mining town.

After shopping around for an hour or so we moved on and found State Highway 3, “White Pine Scenic Byway” which is an adventure in itself; lots of blind curves, hills, steep grades, lakes, and even an area called ‘Hell’s Gulch’. This two lane highway led through Fernwood to the logging road to the Emerald Creek Garnet area.

Much of this logging road was washboard bumpy, and I got a bit concerned about the van being rattled to bits this far from home.

We got our site at the Garnet Creek campground and then drove down to the parking area for the collecting spot. We were surprised to see spanish moss hanging from the fir trees and realized that this must be a temperate rainforest.

Garnet Creek campground

Garnet Creek campground

I knew it was a little late in the day to start sluicing for Garnets, but I wanted to go up and get acquainted with the place, so we walked up the road which is gated making it a foot path only, stopping once to catch our breath, and met the young forest service people who were running the sluicing area that day. I saw the big stock pile of yellow sandy clay that the Garnets are found in; and checked out the sluicing area. It looked pretty simple, and I was eager to get started the next morning. We returned to our mosquito infested campsite, where I found a stack of firewood a previous camper had left, but recent rains had made everything wet. I had a heck of a time getting a fire started to cook dinner. Eventually, with dinner finished we escaped back into the van to get away from the little bloodsucking monsters.

June 5th

We were awoken early by some little critter chewing on the van. I stepped out to scare it away but never saw what it was. We had breakfast and drove down the bumpy road to the parking area.

Emerald Creek Garnet Area

Emerald Creek Garnet Area

We hiked downhill from the parking area for about an hour. Trilliums and trout lilies were blooming, and spanish moss hung in the cedar and fir trees. We returned just in time for the sluicing area to open up and took the half mile uphill road to the check-in area. The forest service staff were friendly and helpful, and in no time we were sluicing like pros. Here’s a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

Here's a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

Here's a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

You can see the clay stock pile on the right, and the sluices on the hillside at the left. We sluiced through the morning and returned to the van for lunch, then
hiked back up and continued. Fill up your buckets, sift, sluice, dump your tailings in the proper spot and repeat. We were told that this was a slow day, but at times people were elbow to elbow at the sluices. I met a nice guy named Harlan, told him our next stop was Gem Mountain in Montana, and he showed us a typical Sapphire you might find there. He had just been there the week before. He told us about hunting for Sunstones in Oregon, and even gave me a little Sunstone he had with him. I continued sluicing until about 4:00 when my back decided it was time to quit. Between us, we found 13 ounces of Garnets that day and found at least one ‘woo hoo’ as Harlan would say.

Emerald Creek Garnets

Emerald Creek Garnets

Our plan was to return for a second day of sluicing, but my back would be the judge of that. At camp I found some drier firewood and made a decent cooking fire. The mosquitoes soon drove us inside for the night.

June 6th

We woke again to the sound of a critter chewing on the van, and I got a bit concerned. If whatever it was chewed on the wrong wire we could be in trouble. That and my sore back made me decide to head back toward Montana, but first we would make another stop in Wallace. On the way from the campground to hwy 3 I stopped to get a picture of this blue flower I later would learn is called a Camas Lily.

Lily

Lily

Back in Wallace, we got some groceries and found a laundromat to do some washing up, and while the loads were running we shopped around town. Wallace is right in the middle of silver mining territory, and there was an investment office that sold silver stock and other investments called Pennaluna & Co.

Investment office that sold silver stock and other investments called Pennaluna & Co.

They had silver ore samples in the window for sale, and being a silver lover, I couldn’t help but go in and get a few specimens.

Silver Ore

Silver Ore

Silver Ore Lucky Friday Mine

Silver Ore Lucky Friday Mine

He even sold me a vintage mine stock paper he had in the window.

While in town I found a t-shirt for the local school sports team, the “Wallace Miners”, and at an antique shop I found a nice antique miners lamp for my collection. When the laundry was done we headed back to Montana. Lookout Pass with its long uphill slope gave all six cylinders in my van a work out. Lots more road construction. One thing we noticed was that just about any gas or fueling station in Montana has a casino of sorts. Still some wild in the west…

From expressway 90 we turned south on hwy 1 toward Philipsburg, and on the way we saw a unique sight. This area, like most of Montana, is cattle land, and in one village there was a dead tree COVERED in cow skulls. I wish we had taken a picture.

In Philipsburg we stopped at the Gem Mountain shop and got directions to the mine, and we were told there was free camping right at the mine. We bought some dry firewood in town and drove the 17 or so miles into the mountains to the mine. On the way we had one of our best wildlife sightings of the trip. Right on the steep cliff beside the road we saw this Bighorn sheep.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_0975c.jpg

It looked like it had found a spot in the cliff that had some tasty minerals. We moved on and found the drive to Gem Mountain mine.

Gem Mountain mine

Gem Mountain mine

We picked out a campsite and I started to prepare a fire for dinner, when a very talkative older couple from Washington came over and introduced themselves. Long story short, we now have new Christmas card trading friends. Eventually we were able to get some dinner and retire for the night.

June 7th

We were up early and running low on good water, so we drove back into Philipsburg and found a grocery store, and did some shopping in town. We stopped at Opal Mountain Gems and talked to the guy in there. I bought a couple bags of potential Sapphire gravel from him. I mentioned that we would be going to Spencer, Idaho for opal, and he knew the town well and suggested the best places to shop. After that we drove back to the mine and got our introduction in sluicing for Sapphires.

Sluicing for Sapphires

Sluicing for Sapphires

I caught on quickly and soon we were finding several nice small corundum and sapphire gem stones in each screen. I also found one lime green stone I was told is called Limetite, and decided to keep it.

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

At one point on this cold rainy day, a bus load of lucky school kids pulled in and they all got their chance to sift for Sapphires. After sifting two buckets we had found four small vials of Sapphires and other corundum. When finished, we drove back into town to the Gem Mountain shop and found a sweatshirt my size, and then took hwy 1 southwest through a winding mountain pass with steep cliffs, and then on to the city of Anaconda, where we found a Subway and got our dinner. This town is a story in itself with a huge mine including a giant smoke stack and great architecture down town.

From there we connected back up with expressway 90, and then south to 15 which would take us down to the eastern part of Idaho, and the Opal town of Spencer. On expressway 15 we stopped at a rest area to eat our subs where we saw a sign about the history of that part of the country.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_0983c.jpg

The sign reads:
“Along in the 1840s the Americans were like they are now, seething to go somewhere. It got around that Oregon was quite a place. The Iowa people hadn’t located California yet. A wagon train pulled out across the plains and made it to Oregon. Then everyone broke out in a rash to be going west.
They packed their Prairie Schooners with their household goods, Gods, and garden tools. Outside of Indians, prairie fires, cholera, famine, cyclones, cloud bursts, quicksand, snow slides, and blizzards, they had a tolerably blithe and gay trip.
When gold was found in Montana some of them forked off from the main highway and surged along this trail aiming to reach the rainbow’s end. It was mostly one way traffic, but if they did meet a back tracking outfit there was plenty of room to turn out.”

After eating dinner we continued south past Dillon, and north west of Monida we must have been climbing in elevation because there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. Garfield Mountain and the Lima peaks were beautiful, classic snow capped visions of what you expect from mountains in the west.

After re-entering Idaho we found the Targhee National Forest and Stoddard Creek Campground with its fantastic valley scenery. It rained throughout the night.

June 8th

After breakfast we drove into the small town of Spencer, and following the advice we got in Philipsburg, stopped at the first rock shop on the right called “Hot Rocks” where I found a type of Opal called ‘Ice Cream Opal’, white with swirls of pink, which should make some very nice cabs. I also found a couple of Opals with some thin layers of fire, some blue agate from Montana, and an unnamed type of picture Jasper. We moved on to the Spencer Opal Mine and Cafe and tried our luck digging in their stockpile without much luck. I found one small piece with a little fire. Next we moved up the street to the Opal Mountain Mine owned by Bob and Susan Thompson, who are trying to sell their shop and mine. There I bought a jar of pre-lapped rough Opal, each stone showing really nice fire. I’ve also learned how difficult it is to photograph the fire of a good Opal. Here are my best attempts.

Opal Mountain Mine

Opal Mountain Mine

I also got some quartz caps for the future triplets I intend to make.

From there we went to the south side of town to High Country Opal ‘The Opal Store’ and bought a nice specimen with many layers of fire.

Unfortunately none of the Opal mines in town currently allow digging at the actual mine, so after that we drove back to Dillon, Montana for some lunch, where we decided to drive up into the mountains and give Crystal Park a try. Crystal Park lies along the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway, south of Wise River, Montana. It is operated by the National Forest Service, and during the summer months there is a minimal fee to use the parking area. I had been warned ahead of time that even in early summer you might encounter snow at the park. At an elevation of 7,800ft the snow can last quite a while. Up and up we drove, seeing more snow as we went. Wonderful mountain landscapes! Eventually we located the park, but there was about two feet of snow blocking the entrance to the parking area! Still, there was enough room to pull off the road, so I decided to give it a try.

Crystal Park

Crystal Park

Crystal Park lies along the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway, south of Wise River, Montana

We walked into the park, over slippery ice covered snow drifts. Breathing is noticeably more difficult at that elevation, and for us lowlanders it can be hard to catch your breath even standing still. I found a likely spot where someone had started a hole and dug into the wall.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_0989c.jpg

I must have spent a couple of hours digging in that spot and found a few nice crystals including one very nice little scepter.

Quartz crystals

Quartz Crystals

The day was getting on, so we left to find a campsite, intending to do some more serious digging the next day. That night it rained most of the night, but early in the morning the rain stopped tapping on the top of our van, so I had my hopes up about the coming dig…. until I stuck my head out of the sleeping bag. It was COLD. I got up to start up the van for some heat and got a shock looking outside. The rain had just turned to snow, heavy snow!
http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_0990c.jpg

This changed everything. I didn’t intend to get stranded up in the mountains during a snow storm, so we quickly ate breakfast and, as much as I hated to leave, got the heck out of there. Here’s what the road looked like going north to Wise River.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_0991c.jpg

By the time we got down to the elevation of Wise River the snow had changed to rain, and it was time to make new plans. While researching the 2010 trip that didn’t happen, I looked for other Sapphire mines in Montana, and one place I found was the Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena. Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena.

Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena.

Here they sell different grades of Sapphire gravel starting at $75.00, so we bought the cheap one and began sifting our gravel.

 began sifting our gravel

began sifting our gravel

It was a cold, raw, windy day and I only had the tolerance to sift one bag of gravel, but we found a few nice Sapphires. When finished, the attendant inside separated out the best faceting grade stones, pictured here.

Sapphires

Sapphires

… and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

... and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

... and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

At this mine there is always a slim chance of finding gold nuggets in your gravel, but we didn’t find any in our bag.

When we were done, we drove back into Helena and found an International House of Pancakes for lunch, one of the best meals we had on the whole trip, and then headed back in the direction of home. East of Helena we saw an antelope in a field next to the road. Outside of Billings the mountains turn to buttes and mesas. We stayed at a Sleep Inn in Billings for the night.

June 10th

We awoke to a sunny 51F degree day, and were out of Billings by 8:00am. All the rivers we crossed were over their banks. Near Forsyth we saw a hand made sign along the expressway selling agates, so I pulled off and we found the house of a very nice man named Perry. He had literally tons of Montana agates filling old bath tubs and around some small buildings. I found a small box of pre-cut agate slabs and bought them from him.

Here are some of the nicer ones I’ve found in the box so far.

Montana agates

Montana agates

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1118c.jpg

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1120c.jpg

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1122c.jpg

He also had a few antiques for sale, and I found a few interesting pieces, including an old 1950s bug sprayer made in Saranac, Michigan that wanted to come back to home with me. We thanked Perry and headed back east.

When we first came west through Montana, we saw a sign for the Glendive Dinosaur Museum and decided that if we had time we would stop, so on our way back east we stopped to check it out. It turns out to not be a real scientific museum at all, but I will save that discussion for another time and place…

At 1:47pm we passed back into North Dakota, and stopped again at Painted Canyon for t shirts and photos, and right in the grassy area in the parking lot there were two beautiful Bison resting in the grass, and I got this great picture out the window of the van.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1002e.jpg

These wild beauties can get up to 2,000 pounds and sprint 3 times faster than a human. NEVER approach one on foot!

Driving through Bismarck Litha snapped a quick photo as we drove over the now flooding Missouri River.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1006c.jpg

My outdated road atlas showed a campground at Lake George, near Medina, so we turned off to find it, but its not there anymore. Driving back to the expressway a Fox crossed the road in front of us, being chased by a Deer! LOL!

We drove on to Jamestown and checked into a Holiday Inn Express and ate dinner at the neighboring Pizza Ranch; good food and a great hotel to rest for the night.

June 11th

East of Jamestown there were no more buttes, just flat agricultural land with lots of standing water. We were back in Moorehead, Minnesota by 9:56am, and stopped at a nice park in Nevis to eat lunch. It was a lakefront park with a changing house and playground from the 1950s. There were even some hardy folks swimming in this cool weather (it was only 62F degrees out). At 3:17 pm we passed through Duluth and over the bridge into Wisconsin. In Wisconsin we stopped at two antique shops to hunt for goodies. Next we stopped at a Subway for dinner, and an A&W drive-in for rootbeer floats. We made it back into Michigan to our campground by the lake I’ll refer to as Mosquito Hell. This time I was ready for them and not so many followed me into the van when paying the camping fee.

June 12th

We awoke to cold temps in the 40s, with the Mosquitoes still active outside the van and left at 7:15am.  Along US2 we saw a Coyote, and with no traffic behind us, I slowed down. The little guy co-operated for a photo shoot.

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f291/Adamsgallery1/Montaho_2011/img_1011c.jpg

We were over the Mackinaw Bridge and back to our ‘palm of the mitten’ home by 7:30pm. I drove 4,664 miles and we experienced some less than perfect weather, but had no serious problems with the van, and did everything we had intended and then some. It was a trip Litha and I will always remember.

Thanks for checking out my report!

Jim Adams

Humboldt Coast Rockhounding. Agate Beach and Trinidad Beach Jasper

I bumped into Stephan and asked him if he would let me put his adventure on my blog.  Here it is…enjoy !!!

Northern_California

Northern_California

Vacation on the Humboldt Coast, August 2011

Patrick's Point/Agate Beach

This year, for our vacation, my son, Justin, and I decided to explore a portion of the Humboldt Coast. The siren songs of Agate Beach and Trinidad Beach jasper have been in our ears for some time now. Additionally, a dear friend and fellow photographer has been extolling Trinidad’s virtues ever since I have mentioned a desire to visit. Her pictures of the area certainly piqued my interest further….

For my pictures, please see:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36618387@N06/sets/72157627474355616/

08.12.11:

Justin returned from his mother’s house at 8:30 AM. I finished packing the car, and we (including Buddy and Buster, the wonder-wieners) were on the road by 10:15. Heading north in I-5, we were filled with excitement. In spite of the mild summer we have been experiencing in Davis, the air was hazy, and it became quickly evident that the northern valley (which does not receive the cooling Delta Breeze that we do) has not enjoyed this to the same extent. Within an hour from home, the temperatures were in the mid-90s (Davis had a forecast high of 88°F for that day), and the Coast Range, quite close to the freeway, was not clearly visible. The Sutter Buttes, also, were only visible in silhouette. When we reached Redding at 12:30, it was a sweltering 99°F, and the only thing I could see of Mount Shasta was a fuzzy outline of its snow-capped peak.

We turned west into the Trinity Alps. The three hour drive through the mountains on highway 299 was gorgeous and surprisingly hot. The temperatures hovered in the mid-to-high 90s until we were within about 10 miles of Arcata, at which point they dropped rapidly.

For lunch we stopped at Bagdad, on the Trinity River. I wanted to do a quick search for jade, but the area was designed for boat access of the river. Reaching the rocks would have required a swim.

All along the drive I saw numerous possibilities for future camping trips along the Trinity River (jade hunting kayak-trips, perhaps?). I imagine near Willow Creek will be the place, as it closer to the coast and somewhat cooler.

We arrived at about 5PM and set up camp. The campsite was nice: large and relatively private, secluded in ferns and bishop pines.

After set-up, we took a quick trek to Agate Beach (about a mile from our campsite), and found some goodies – mostly jasper.

08.13.11:

I woke up at about 6:00, mainly to the sounds of crows, ravens, Stellar’s jays, spotted owls and woodpeckers as well as a few unidentified birds. There were very few human sounds. The noisy revelers were still asleep and the early risers respected the quiet. I stayed in my sleeping bag, listening, until about 7:00, and then got up for breakfast. I realized then that I’d forgotten to bring my coffee (d’oh!), but green tea was just fine.

At 9:00, Justin woke, and had his breakfast. Afterward, we proceeded to Sumeg Village (a model Yurok village), where a program was put on by local Yuroks. A tour of the village was performed by Skip: a Yurok as well a Park Ranger, which provided an interesting perspective (and one that was more accurate than the usual anthropological approach, I imagine). We learned, for instance that Yurok houses have small round door designed to keep bears out. Yurok tools were chiefly constructed of elk horn, rather than stone. Also, since Yuroks consider all things alive and imbued with spirit, represent physical features in things they build. For instance, every Yurok canoe has structures representing a nose, heart, lungs and kidneys – the essential organs.

Following the tour, we were treated to Yurok songs and prayers to prepare us for a salmon feast. The salmon was delicious, slowly spit-roasted over a redwood charcoal pit. I even partook of what is considered a delicacy – the head, which was moist and quite delicious, particularly the cheek meat.

Well-fortified after lunch, Justin and I biked into Trinidad, about 5 miles away. This turned out to be slightly more challenging than I imagined. Although Justin and I are both avid bikers, I did not have my regular bike – a cargo bike is too large for my roof rack. Instead, I was riding Justin’s “spare” bike, which even at its tallest setting is too small for me. Unlike Davis, Trinidad actually has hills, which are quite tough to bike when your knees are nearly smacking you in the chin.

Patricks_Point_Beach_Agate

Patricks_Point_Beach_Agate

Upon returning, we headed to Agate Beach for our first serious agate hunt. We hit a beach packed with agate hunters, over half of whom were armed with “agate scoops” – essentially three-foot-long slotted spoons. Most of these were identical and presumably purchased. A few, though, were creatively home-made: one was constructed of a golf club handle and a small kitchen sieve, another of a wooden dowel and a kitty litter scoop. These folks had a distinct advantage as they were able to reach agates that were further away without diving for them. Most of these folks also seemed focused only on agates. Many had pint-sized Ziploc bags significantly filled with agates.

I, on the other hand, found two agates. This is probably due to several factors. I do not seem to have “the eye.” Many of the hunters have been coming here for years and know what to look for, and take only agates. I, on the other hand, was distracted by the amazing array of jasper and jade that can also be found (in fact, they are more plentiful than agates). Also, without a scoop, I simply could not reach many of the agates that I did spot, since they do not remain in one place for long before the next wave moves them again.

Blue Trinidad jade

Blue Trinidad jade

Speaking of jasper, I found one piece of classic brecciated tan and pink Trinidad jasper with a gorgeous seam of agate running through it. More common are pieces with brown or tan landscapes and blue sky in colors reminiscent of Rocky Butte jasper from Oregon.

08.14.11:

At Justin’s insistence, I woke him up early for some just-past-sunrise, low-tide “agateering.” The beach already sported the hard-core hunters. As we searched, I chatted with a few of these old-timers. One was a San Francisco man who has been coming with his family every year for 40 years. Amazingly, he was not aware that there is also an Agate Beach in Bolinas. In any case, he shared some of his hints: the area where the water is an inch or two deep is best. The agates are briefly still, and give off a blue “glow.” This did not help me greatly, as every blue glow I saw was either 20 feet away, in someone’s scoop, or a “false positive” – grey chert. I again found jasper and jade more frequently than agate (once again, I found two agates, which were slightly larger than the previous day’s finds).

By about 10:00, the morning fog had almost completely burned away making all the stones on the beach sparkle in a very distracting manner. Nevertheless, after lunch, Justin and I joined a ranger-led hunt. Her presentation confirmed my suspicions about two brown stones I had found in the morning – they are petrified wood. During this hunt I actually found three agates (!), two more pieces of petrified wood (okay, auto complete just tried to turn that into petrified woodpeckers, which would be an extremely cool find), and a fairly large black piece of whalebone (a piece of rib, perhaps?). Justin found several agates and an egg-shaped piece of Trinidad jasper that makes me drool (see the pictures link to see it).

Petrified wood

Petrified wood

That night, our campfire was slightly less relaxing than usual since we had some new neighbors: one family began arguing the moment they pulled in, another had three small squalling children that went on shrieking for hours…

08.15.11:

Monday morning dawned perfectly clear. Justin once again slept in. After a short morning agate hunt (I again found two), we opted for a road-trip to Fern Canyon. On the way, we stopped for pictures of one of the local herds of Roosevelt elk. They were amazing to see, but at about half a mile distant, so I don’t think we got a full appreciation of how huge these beautiful critters are. Getting to Fern Canyon involved driving along eight miles of bumpy and dusty, but decently graded, dirt road and making four water crossings. The ranger assured me that my car (not a four-wheel drive) could make it, but the first one made me a bit nervous. Luckily the crossing contained sufficient gravel that tires did not sink into mud.

The short hike (no dogs allowed) at Fern Canyon (where parts of the Jurassic Park movies were filmed) was totally worth the bouncy drive. We first crossed a meadow with a very clear creek, tall bushy horsetails, prolific wild-flowers and dozens of dragonflies (black saddlebags, I’m fairly sure) that absolutely refused to land and pose for pictures. The canyon itself is only half a mile long: a deep trench lined with four different species of ferns (so that’s how it got its name) and waterfalls. Downed logs were decorated with mosses and unusual fungi, including one growing a red, brain-shaped jelly fungus of some sort. At the end of the canyon Justin and I opted for the loop hike ascending what one kid described as the “endless stairs” for a small wood-land like. We crossed another meadow with numerous dragonflies (some sort of darner this time, I believe), which were equally camera-shy. This is a perfect flip-flop hike: wet and not at all difficult.

After this hike, we decided to head to Big Lagoon, a dog-friendly beach. One of the Patrick’s Point rangers had told us that nearly every beach in Humboldt County, with the exception of Agate Beach is dog-friendly. She had also told that many local search for agates there when it isn’t sandy, since there are fewer people. It was sandy. A sign sported a very amusing typo in reference to dogs (see pictures).

The beach excursion did not last long, since the dogs were being brats, escaping their harnesses repeatedly. Justin and I opted for a hike at the camp-ground instead. We toured the Yurok ceremonial rock, and then explored Mussel Rock, Lookout Rock and the Wedding Rock.

At night the kids across the way cried and screamed for three hours. Lovely.

08.16.11:

Another early-morning agate expedition. It started off foggy, but by 9:00 the fog was down to thin wisps. This was apparently good for Justin’s “agate-eye,” as he found a good 20 pieces, including two that resemble faces. I found four agates, but struck an absolute jade-jackpot. I talked with an old-timer couple, who, like me, had a more eclectic focus, also pursuing jade and jasper. The man told me that the blue and brown Oregon-jasper-like pieces I had been finding could often be cut to reveal black agate in thunderegg-like formations. I will have to try it.

After brunch, Justin participated in a Junior Ranger “slug slam” program where we learned that slugs breathe through a hole in the side of their heads, and we also made artificial “slug-slime” – yellow oobleck.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Trinidad. We arrived to perfectly clear weather and headed to the lighthouse overlooking the bay. I have to say that this is one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. This place seriously gives Kauai a run for its money in terms of sheer, breath-taking scenic beauty. I vowed on the spot that we will return next year. Since the dogs had been brats on the beach the day before, we decided that they would not be going to the beach today. To make up for this, we took them for a nice hike of Trinidad Head. This was a long enough hike to tire them out (Buddy, the 14 year-old, had to be carried for the last bit). The views were stunning, and I saw many wildflowers with which I am not familiar

The next item on the agenda was exploring Trinidad State Beach which contains spectacular boulders of multicolored jasper with tafoni-like features, caves and off-shore sea-stacks, one of which is 10 acres in size and covered in bishop pine. The beach also contains a creek that is the source of Trinidad Beach jasper. I managed to find three pieces. Two look promising, but one revealed many fractures after I cleaned the creek-slime. No worries. We will return here! When I know whether I picked well, I can get more. I also lugged a few 30-pound landscape boulders through a half mile of deep sand. A very good work-out.

Trinidad jasper

Trinidad jasper

08.17.11:

Our last full day dawned to weather that is more typical than what we had been experiencing: heavy fog. Our last agate hunt lasted only about two hours. The fog wasn’t burning off, and Justin was thoroughly chilled. During our time there, I did have the time to speak to an old-timer, who claimed that agates are getting more rare with more people coming. He claimed that it used to be possible to find 100 – 150 agates in an hour, and that he is lucky to find 20 or 30 a day now.

After warming the boy up with oatmeal and green tea, we decided that an inland hike of the big trees would be in order. Once 101 turned inland after Orick, it soon became sunny.

Parking at Big Trees, we found a nice, shady spot for “the boys,” since dogs are not allowed on the trails. We picked a nice 6-mile hike off the map and got going. Evidently this map marked trails “as the crow flies,” since it did not show switch-backs, which expanded the hike to at least 10 miles and made it moderately strenuous. It was Justin’s first exposure to totally wild, dense vegetation, and he became convinced that we were lost, and was visibly relieved with every trail-marking sign.

This hike earned us a substantial dinner, so we headed to eat at the Trinidad Eatery and Gallery, which had been recommended by a friend (the same friend who raved about Trinidad itself). Justin and I shared a plate of calamari for the appetizer, followed by clam chowder for him and an excellent cioppino for me. For dessert we split some dynamite blackberry cobbler.

Justin fell asleep by 8:30, and I read by the campfire. The screaming, sobbing kids were gone!

08.18.11:

Homeward-bound. The last day of vacation is always a melancholy event. I am usually blissful from the experience, but sad to be leaving. This time was no exception. After one last hike of the campground trails, Justin and I packed and headed out, opting for the highway 101 to 20 route, to make the trip a loop. Just like 299, this is a beautiful drive, though much of it seems studded with tourist traps (Bigfoot themed and redwood themed). I saw many possibilities for future explorations of the area, and also managed to lose count of the number of times we crossed the Eel river (Justin insists it was 29).

Much of this drive was quite a bit cooler than the trip in, until we neared Laytonville, and from there until past Clear Lake and Williams, temperatures hovered near 100°F. As we drove south on I-5, it cooled very gradually until we hit Woodland, which is apparently as far as the Delta Breeze reaches.

Justin’s favorite hot-and-sour soup welcomed us back to town. Everyone (including the dogs) took a thorough shower and relaxed in our own beds.

The dogs are still sleeping as of Sunday….

I am very grateful for this experience.

Happy Hunting,

Stephan in Davis, CA.

FRESNO GEM & MINERAL SOCIETY

Fresno FGMS

Fresno FGMS

Most months the club plans field trips to the coast, desert, and other interesting places where fascinating stones and minerals can be found, collected and or worked for tumbling, cutting and polishing. We offer day trips and overnighters for both the novice and experienced rockhound. Our field trips are great fun for the entire family.
Times and dates are posted in our monthly newsletter.

FIELD TRIP

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Quartz Mountain, Coarsegold, Madera County

Come and join us for a day of Quartz Crystal collecting behind the Casino in Coarsegold.  Quartz Mountain is a small BLM area, featuring smoky to clear quartz crystals.  It’s also the site of the historic Narbo Mine, a late 18th century gold camp.  Unfortunately (for the investors and miners) there wasn’t enough gold found to keep the mine open for long.

The crystals found here aren’t as big or flashy as Arkansas quartz, but the collecting is relatively easy, with mine dump, surface & pocket digging.

If you attended one of our digs there last year, you will remember the “trudge” up the Mountain. It wasn’t bad, but FGMS member Paul has improved the road up the Mountain, and it’s now passenger car accessible.

Quartz Mountain

Quartz Mountain

We will meet at the Chevron Station at Hwy 41 & Picayune Road at 9:30, and proceed to the dig site at 10 am. Please be prompt, since we’re required to close the gate after entering and I prefer digging to running up and down the Mountain.

Be sure to bring lunch with you, so I don’t have to open the gate repeatedly. The Chevron MiniMart has plenty of deep fried junk food, burgers & chips!  Dogs are welcome as long as they’re friendly and able to stay on a leash if necessary.

This event involves requires only very minimal hiking from the hilltop destination point. We will assemble at the Chevron mini mart. If you’re running late, CALL ME so we know you’re coming.

Sorry, no early departures. Departure time from the site is approximately 3 pm at this point, so be prepared to relax if you have your fill of digging.

The amount of hiking you do is up to you. Once at the hilltop gathering area, you’ll be able to start collecting within a few yards of your car. Collecting ranges from surface scratching to hard rock, vein “pocket” mining. We will be doing some (semi) organized mining, and there are plenty of tailings for those who wish to screen for smaller points.

We�re look forward to having a great time! Feel free to contact Kris or Bob with any questions.

Click here for the Google Maps link.

Field Trip Co-Chairman – Kris Rowe – 559-250-5057   Bob Coates – 559-313-0440

http://www.fgms.us/fieldtrip.php

Delaware RockHound Gem and Mineral Show

Filed under: Coming Events,Rockhound Travel,field trip reports — Gary February 19, 2011 @ 11:35 pm
Delaware_rockhounding

Delaware Rockhound Club

Saturday March 5, 2011 and Sunday March 6, 2011

The Delaware Mineralogical Society, Inc. will hold its 48th Annual Earth Science Gem and Mineral Show @  Delaware Technical and Community College @ I-95 Exit 4B, Churchmans Road (Rt 58) Newark (Stanton), DE 19713. Hours Saturday are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. The show features educational exhibits of mineral, lapidary and fossil specimens, displays from regional and university museums, a roster of fine dealers of minerals, fossils, gems, jewelry and lapidary supplies, door prizes, demonstrations of gem cutting and polishing and a children’s table, where youngsters may purchase inexpensive mineral and fossil specimens. Admission is $6.00, $5.00 for seniors, $4.00 for youngsters between 12 and 16, and free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. The Delaware Mineralogical Society is a non-profit organization, affiliated with the Eastern Federation of Mineral Societies, and dedicated to learning and teaching about the earth sciences, rocks, minerals, fossils and the lapidary arts. Membership is open to all who are interested in these areas. Info and Coupons at www.delminsociety.net or contact gene@fossilnut.com.  Or call Wayne Urion (302) 998-0686.

Delaware_rockhounding

Delaware Rockhounding

Check out all their past field trips!

Arundel Quarry, Havre de Grace, MD
Big Brook/Ramanessin Brook, Holmdel, NJ
Binkley-Ober Quarry, East Petersburg, PA
Burkholder Quarry, Eprata, PA
C & D Canal, Delaware City, DE
C. K. Williams Quarry, Easton, PA
Cornwall Mine, Cornwall, PA
Deer Lake, Schuykill Co., PA
Inversand Mine, Sewell, NJ
J T Dyer Quarry, Gibraltar, PA
Martin Limestone’s Kurtz Quarry, Denver, PA
Lee Creek, Aurora, NC
Libertyville Mines, Sykesville, MD
Meckley’s Quarry, Mandata, PA
Mud – Grubb Lake, Lancaster Co., PA
National Limestone Quarry, Mount Pleasant Mills, PA
Penn-MD Materials Quarry, Fulton, PA
Prospect Aggregates Quarry, Landisville, PA
Purse State Park (Liverpool Point, MD
Ramsey Run, Woodlawn Quarry, Wilmington, DE
Red Hill Fossil Area, Hyner, PA
Silver Hill Quarry, Narvon, PA
Teeter Quarry, Gettysburg, PA
University of Delaware Mineralogical Museum, Newark, DE
Bus Trip to Smithsonian, Washington, D. C.

Rose Creek Mine

Filed under: Rockhound Travel,Video — Gary November 8, 2010 @ 10:06 pm
Rose Creek

Rose Creek

Operating since 1952, Rose Creek Mine is one of 3 state licensed gem mines in Macon County, North Carolina. Centrally located in Western North Carolina in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, we are near waterfalls, white-water rafting, AT Trail hiking, museums, antique shops, historic train rides and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

In our Gem Mine you can find Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, Amethyst, Citrine, Moonstone, Topaz, Smoky Quartz, Rose Quartz, Quartz Crystals and more! All equipment is provided and we help beginners. You dig your own dirt in our mining tunnel and wash the dirt away in our covered flume. Mine rain or shine. Mining is a great field trip for church groups, scout troops, senior citizen groups and others. We have an educational program that will fit your needs. Scouts can work on their geology achievements and badges.

Rose Creek Mine Gift & Rock Shop. We have rubies, sapphires, garnets, emeralds and so much more. We also have special buckets, gem kits, lapidary supplies, jewelry, Opals and a world class collection of minerals. Last new miner accepted at 4pm. Dig your own dirt, first bucket free with admission. Help for beginners, equipment supplied, covered flume line, clean restrooms, covered picnic tables, snacks. Group rates available as is gem dirt to go. Five miles north of Franklin on Hwy 28, left on Bennett before river. 115 Terrace Ridge Dr. For mining info call 828-349-3774.

Click here for website

Rose Creek

Rose Creek

Gem Mining Rates

  • Major Miners (over 8): $6.00 each (includes 1 free bucket)
  • Minor Miners (8 & under): $4.00 each (includes 1 free bucket)
  • You dig your own bucket of dirt in the mining tunnel.
  • All refill buckets are $4.00

Special Mining

  • Super Buckets – $40.00
  • Mega Buckets – $75.00
  • Mini Buckets – $10.00 – $20.00 – you keep the bucket
  • Bags of Gem Dirt to Go – $3.00 ea. or 2/$5.00

What to Bring:

Bring ziploc bags or a plastic butter dish to take your stones home in (no glass). Rubber gloves are handy if it’s chilly or you have a nice manicure and a hat and some sunblock if it’s sunny although we have a covered “flume”.

The wooden benches can get hard as the day goes on so you might need a cushion to sit on or old towels work well too and you can use them to wipe your hands. Wear old clothes and tennis shoes or boots and bring a plastic bag to put your muddy shoes in and an extra pair to wear in the car. Bring a picnic lunch, we provide picnic tables to eat out of rain or sun, plan to spend the day! And you will need to bring the camera for those pictures to show friends you played in the mud in North Carolina and found beautiful gem stones.


COWEE MTN RUBY MINE

Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary @ 9:56 pm
Ruby mine

Ruby mine

6771 Sylva Rd.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
FREE ADMISSION !!!!

Located 4 miles north of Franklin at the foot of Cowee Mountain just off Highway 441,, Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine is open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. until “The Last Person Leaves”. Two covered flumes allow you to mine rain or shine. Mining instructions for the novice on premises. Free Admission. Refreshing picnic area by shade trees & running brook. Cold drinks and snacks are available in the gem shop. Buses, large or small groups welcome. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Gem dirt to go is available all year. Family owned and operated.
LOCATION: 6771 Sylva Road, 828-369-5271.

You can Find anything from Ruby, Sapphire, emeralds, Amethyst, Garnet, Topaz, Smokey and Rose Quartz and may more.  Native Buckets are available along with enriched buckets.  We also carry International Bucket, with stones from all around the world.

Ruby_mine

Ruby_mine

Florida Rockhounding

Filed under: Coming Events,Rockhound Travel — Gary October 12, 2010 @ 8:47 pm
Miami-rockhound

Miami-rockhound

October 16, 2010

Join MiaSci and the Miami Mineralogical Lapidary Guild for the annual Gem and Mineral Show! This year we will feature pieces from the Smithsonian’s “American Gemstone Jewelry Collection”. Visitors will also enjoy an array of classes, workshops and demos as well as have the opportunity to interact with vendors and enthusiasts.

Site: http://miamisci.org/

Gem and Mineral Show
Join MiaSci and the Miami Mineralogical Lapidary Guild for the annual Gem and Mineral Show! This year we will feature pieces from the Smithsonian’s “American Gemstone Jewelry Collection”. Visitors will also enjoy an array of classes, workshops and demos as well as have the opportunity to interact with vendors and enthusiasts.

Time: 10am – 6pm
Location: Miami Science Museum
Phone Contact: Box Office 305.646.4200
Email Contact: boxoffice@miamisci.org

Miami Mineralogical & Lapidary Guild Demos
Interested in gems, minerals, & fossils? Come check out the Miami Mineralogical & Lapidary Guild club demonstrations and exhibits the 4th Sunday of every month (excluding December). See live demonstrations of cutting gemstones, making jewelry, showcases of what you can collect on field trips & vacations, crystal identification, and much more! Hours are 1-4 p.m. in Classrooms A&B.

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location: Classrooms A&B
Phone Contact: Karlisa Callwood 305-646-4233
Email Contact: kcallwood@miamisci.org

PENNSYLVANIA Rockhounding

Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary @ 8:14 pm

PENNSYLVANIA

Crystal-Point-Diamond-Mines

Crystal-Point-Diamond-Mines

Crystal Point Diamond Mines

1307 Park Avenue
Williamsport, PA 17701
Ph. (570) 323-6783 Fax (570) 321-7374
Email: rpsmith@csrlink.net

The owner guarantees if you’re not afraid to work, you won’t be disappointed with a 2.5 gallon bucket of quality crystals or clusters. For the lazy man or woman, dig in the tailings for the same results. Open April-October, by appointment only. Kids welcome, with close adult supervision. Ray Smith, owner/operator. $40 adults. $20 kids under 12.

Crystal-Point-Diamond-Mines_map

Crystal-Point-Diamond-Mines_map

Welcome to Crystal Point Diamond Mines, one of the largest quartz deposits ever found on the East coast. Located just outside of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this fee-dig mine has been visited by people from all over the world. The mine is usually open to collectors from May through October. Rockhound clubs and other groups as well as children are accommodated. The quartz crystal points, resembling diamonds, are very plentiful and easy to dig.  Most of your time is spent deciding which ones to keep.  If you don’t like to dig, there are plenty around to sift out of the dirt or just pick up.

cluster_crystals

cluster_crystals

Ray_smith

Ray Smith owner

crystal_cavities

crystal_cavities

I have been told that this mine might be closed.  Can anyone comment on this?

UPDATE:

Crystal Point Diamond Mines is Temporarily closed by the PA Department of  Environmental Protection- Bureau of Mines

Watch for further NOTICE!!

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
E-mail: ruby@sheffieldmine.com
Website: www.sheffieldmine.com
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

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
an AWESOME
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!!

record_ruby

record_ruby

sheffield_mine_map

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.