Richardson’s Rock Ranch in Madras, Oregon and the Lucky Strike near Prineville
My good friend Pat Dolan supplies these wonderful photos of rocks he once collected at Richardson’s Rock Ranch, now closed to digging.
Richardson Rock Ranch in central Oregon was long noted for their thunderegg fee-dig on the Priday agate beds. That activity has now ceased, the fee-digs permanently closed by the ranch as of last month. This is perhaps the sunset to fee digging for thundereggs in America, since the Baker Egg Mine in New Mexico has been filled in for some time.
Update: Pat supplies this: Hi, Tom. There is one other pay to dig site up there in Oregon. The Lucky Strike Mine. It’s way smaller than Richardson Ranch. And much more difficult to get thundereggs. This is from their Facebook page:
“The Lucky Strike mine will be open to the end of September. We will be open Thursday - Sunday. Thursday’s 9am-4pm Friday and Saturday 8am-4pm Sunday 8am-2pm. This is the last year we will be open to the public.”
They are located “outside of Prineville, Oregon.” That would be in Crook County. Here’s the map Google that Google provides. I would triple check my directions and call first before going. The good news is that the mine is located within the Ochoco National Forest so you should be able to order that map and get fine driving details.
Original Post: Back to Richardson’s
Richardson’s continues to operate their rock store, however, with material they dig from their beds.
I don’t know why they shut down their fee digs, however, it may be due to liability insurance being too expensive or perhaps a lack of personnel to supervise the operation. Both understandable reasons.
Some closed fee-digs may continue operating through rock club field trips. A club usually carries its own liability insurance so operators are more likely to open for them on a case by case basis. Last year the Ottesons of Tonopah, Nevada conducted fee digs for turquoise and variscite for both the Southern Utah Rock Club and the Las Vegas Gem and Mineral Society. Even though they were not operating public fee digs.
Pat Dolan said the Madras Rockhound Pow Wow has dug at the Ranch before. But that group has no outing planned anywhere until September, and that for agates a good distance from the Ranch. Pat also mentioned the Prineville Rockhound Pow Wow in Crook County, Oregon but their 2020 event has also been cancelled. Truly, this is a year of do it yourself field trips.
Here’s information on the Richardson’s Rock Ranch
Richardson Agate Co. LLC
6683 NE Hay Creek Rd
Madras, OR 97741
After hours emergency or text:
N 44 43.956
W 120 58.564
“WARNING: Do NOT search the internet for driving directions as they are currently incorrect. Use the directions on this page. We are located 11 miles north of Madras, Oregon. Simply take U.S. Highway 97 north from Madras – or south from Willowdale – until you see Mile Post 81 and the Richardson’s sign. Follow the signs in for about three miles and you’ll be at the shop!”