Field Trip- Ocean View Mine, Pala Gem Mining District, CA

Filed under: Rockhound stories,regular postings — Gary April 16, 2007 @ 9:41 pm


DIGFORGEMS.COM - your link to
The Oceanview Mine – The Last REAL Operating Gem Mine
In the World Renowned Pala Gem Mining District

Chief Mountain, Pala, San Diego County, California
Your one stop source for tours, specimens, jewelry, cutting rough, faceted stones

Thanks Teresa for letting me post this excellent article!

This morning, bright and early, I joined internet faceter friend
Robert Winfield and his daughter Allie for a day at the Ocean View Mine.

We drove up Highway 76, from Oceanside, Ca. into the Pala Indian
area, and up the hill from Magee Road. Check in was smooth, and a
mandatory data sheet was completed before we drove onto mine
property. Once there, parking was very easy, and close to where we

There was ample and pleasant assistance directing us to a screening
spot after parking. Each individual was assigned a work space which
included a pair of screens, both 1/2 and 1/4 inch, a bucket, and a
small garden hand tool to move dirt and rocks. Between every two
stations was a bucket of clean water, (for now) within which to rinse
off screened material. This was quite adequate, and very efficient.

This all formed a greater outside circle, within the center of which
was a rather large pile of virgin fresh tailings. Blasting within the
mine is done on Saturday, and the material on the floor from the
blast is taken by back hoe and placed on the pile. None of this
material has previously been gone through. The mine owners are happy
to offer this material to we wo come up there to look for treasures.

A preliminary talk is given to all attendees, basically showing how
to spread the material, screen it, and what to look for within our
screens. Everyone begins at the same time and with the same
opportunities for discovery. My very first bucket full yielded a
lovely aquamarine, my best find of the day.

You work at your own pace, and strengths. This is not hard work, just
shovel tailings into your bucket, carry it maybe 8 feet back to your
screening station, and go from there. I guaranty you the piles of
dirt below other peoples screening areas were far taller than mine, I
felt as I more than got my money’s worth. Yes age, weight, and
strength do enter into the equation, I have nothing to gripe about.

For persons living outside of the Southern California area, this is a
great place to include within a vacation. Right down the road is the
Pala Casino Hotel, with tons of amenities, a bit father away there
are many wonderful and reasonable places to stay. San Diego County is
a prime vacation area, and with good reason.

There were tours into the mine, and today, I did not join any, many
did and enjoyed the experience. Weather was perfect, and a wonderful
time was had by all. Many were the shrieks of “look what I found.”
There were great and valuable pieces found, Spodumene, Tourmaline,
Beryl, Aquamarine, wonderful color, and for specimen collectors,
impressive terminated quartz, feldspar, and Ogiaclase (sp) as well as
wonderful Mica Books.

The $60. fee, includes everything above, unlimited Buckets of
screening material, a nice covered picnic area, plenty of ice cold
water, and even some home grown oranges and tangerines.

They begin to wind down at 3 PM, and for me, that was a full day.

I personally want to thank Jeff Swanger, Lisa and Steve Koonce, and
all the wonderful assistants willing and able to identify finds, and
generally be of great assistance.

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