General Correspondence

I don’t share private e-mails but I think this one is anonymous enough to pass. A friend in the field just e-mailed me. That person detailed their recent activities and past experiences, I replied with mine. You can’t tell what the other person has brought up but I am responding to those points. What outdoor people write about at 12:26 in the morning.

Attached is a photo of my shower solution which is really slick. Maybe $35 at the time and totally worth it. Uses a USB chargeable self-contained lithium ion battery. I have a portable lithium battery about the size of a small car battery that can charge it and my other electronics. The pump goes into a five gallon bucket. Tube and shower head connects easily to the pump. Has a hook to hang the shower head. It’s perfect.

Two years ago I went to Great Basin for a bioblitz the NPS was putting on to study lichen. Bunch of volunteers like me running around, helping the real scientists catalog the lichen in the field. (I really like blue lichen.) I learned later that one group identified a species new to science. Cool beans. Anyway, I drove into one of the dry campgrounds which I knew would be less crowded. Which it was. Nearly deserted. I filled up my water containers later at the wet campground (with faucets) a mile down the road and it was a zoo. Kids and dogs all over, arguing families, yuch.

After setting up camp at the dry campground I walked the grounds. A young woman came along who was walking toward the primitive bathroom with a towel around her shoulders. Do you know where the water is? Or the showers? OMG. This woman has driven hundreds of miles with zero research. Who goes past Baker not knowing what is going on? I told her this was a dry campground and she looked crestfallen since her camp was already set up. Okay, I said, I have a new pop up shower enclosure I had bought in case this campground was crowded. We set it up at her site and then I showed her the pump and how to use it. Gave her my extra/emergency/nonused five gallon collapsible water jug and told her to fill it up at the next campground.

There were so few people in camp that I just poured a gallon jug over my head in the morning to shower. As I had done in the past. No big whoop. That might seem like great lengths to help out someone unaware but I have had years and years of helping people out with problems during long distance hikes. Some people simply need help in the beginning, they will in time, I hope, learn. The wilderness needs more friends and I don’t want anyone staying at home after some mistake with preparedness,

My big disappointment was with the vaunted dark sky conditions. Not that long weekend. Just like in the Sierra, the mountains make their own weather. Cloudy every night. Desert floor would have been better. Like back at Baker. Drove to the top of the last parking lot on top of Wheeler, did not hike it. Another insanely crowded campground up there. But, I contributed to the effort of the BioBlitz.

As to gold, I do not mind if I get very little. I need to be out prospecting. When I was prospecting the forks of the American River I often did catch and release gold when sampling with my pan. Wasn’t interested in a few colors, just looking for more colors upstream or on the shoulders of the river. Often swam the river with all of my gear to get to interesting sand bars. Used a kayaker’s waterproof case to keep my first aid kit and other things dry. The big strike I had in 2004 has kept me going through all the thin years of prospecting. It was a find of a lifetime and I knew it at the time. No chance of finding another chunk of quartz the size of a bowling ball laced with gold. Now, I just want to find gold where other people aren’t. That area I was just in has no history of any mining whatsoever. No historical claims. None. Obviously, not paying amounts for a commercial operator. For a small scale miner like me off by themselves, a few flakes is enough. I’ve found many other amazing things beside gold during my hunts. And now that I hunt for UV and U and fossils, well, it’s enough to be out and about.

Sounds like you have a vehicle you can work on. What an amazing concept! I’m not sure I could do much with my vehicle since the engine bay is so cramped. I do have a sat based text messaging device (A SpotX) and I have membership in an off road vehicle recovery service. I can use the SpotX to communicate with them to get help.

Good luck at Tucson, I wish you well. I only went once for one day at the Big Show and left screaming the next day. The parking and congestion got to me really badly and I couldn’t handle it. Lots of interesting things but the shuttle had stopped working before The Big Show and navigating that city was just unmanageable. Took the tour of the ASARCO open pit mine the next day, that was great, and then fled to the Gold Show in Quartzsite the same day. I’ll be in Tuscon in 2021 for the fluorescent mineral theme but that is it. Probably, not again.

The commercials for SUVs like the Subarus make driving on a beach or off road seem amazingly simple and fun. What nonsense. I have seen one Subaru outfitted with LT tires and that was it. The only ones that make sense are their team rally vehicles. That’s what Subaru wants people to think they are getting. Sheesh. I did see a full on Porsche rally car on pavement in Temecula once and I have to admit I kind of liked it. Tom

“Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower, Battery Powered – Compact Handheld Rechargeable Camping Showerhead” Amazon.


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Out For The Day Near Jean, Nevada in Clark County

Parachute from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.




I stumbled upon this old navigation aid for pilots near Jean. After some research on the web, I found arrows like this are scattered across the country. They were used along with beacons to help pioneer mail delivery by air in the 1920s and 1930s. The website below is fascinating. Lists arrows in every state along with many details. Tons of photos of arrows and their history. Do you have one in your backyard?

http://www.dreamsmithphotos.com/arrow/

A little from that website:

“These giant arrows were called Beacon Stations and helped guide the pilots of early airmail flights across the nation. They were at the base of 50 foot skeleton towers that had a 24″ or 36″ rotating beacon and in the early days painted Chrome Yellow. Where electicity was unavailable they had a generator shed on the feather end of the arrow to power the beacon. The site number was painted on one side of the roof of the shed, the other side had the airway.They pointed to the next higher numbered beacon station, directing the pilot along his route. All arrows pointed east on the west-east airways and north on the south-north airways. They were built between December 1926 and November 1932, when metal arrows became the standard.”



Quick handheld iPhone photography, apologies. Rock found in desert wash. On the left, the rock glows orange (calcite), green (quartz) and a little bit of white from an unknown mineral coating. This under short wave. On the right, the green and white disappear completely under long wave while the orange stays strong.

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Quartzsite is Coming Soon!

Quartzsite in Arizona is coming alive for the season right now. Make plans now to get there, if you haven’t done so already. The culmination of rock related activities related in Quartzite will be the 2020 QIA PowWow, a four day show that starts on January 15th and ends on January 19th. But Desert Gardens will get started January 1st as well as lots of other venues. More below.

I recommend staying two full days in Quartzsite  if you haven’t gone before. Lodging is extremely limited in town, however, you can sleep in your car in the desert. Are there any other questions? Oh, okay.

The article below is the fifth piece I wrote for Rock&Gem Magazine. It appeared in the April, 2017 issue and it is here now due to the gracious consent of the current managing editor, Antoinette Rahn.

I’ve updated information where necessary and made good the links. There is additional material at the end of the article which comes from my Places to Visit and Collect in The Southwest file. Good luck, I will see you there.

Quartzsite: Rockhounds Gather in The Desert

by Thomas Farley

Quartzsite, Arizona is a town and a meeting place. In winter it is a gathering of the clan for recreational vehicle Snowbirds, flea market enthusiasts, ham radio operators, off-road motorists, geo-cachers, and rockhounds. Especially rockhounds. Quartzsite is rock and gem heaven.

While many Quartzsite locations sell rocks in the winter months, the biggest production is January’s QIA PowWow Gem and Mineral Show. In 2017 it featured over 550 spaces and 272 vendors. Put on by 300 volunteers, seller’s wares had to be 75% gem, rock, mineral, or jewelry related. Running concurrently with the PowWow at another site, the Desert Gardens Gem and Mineral Show concentrates mostly on rocks, with a little less jewelry than the PowWow. Then there’s the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show. And the Prospectors’ Panorama. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Quartzsite is in southwest Arizona, 244 miles east of Los Angeles and 127 miles west of Phoenix. Las Vegas is 213 miles to the north. Located in the La Posa Plain, La Paz County, Quartzsite is bordered to the south by the Dome Rock, Castle Dome, and Kofa Mountains. In its heyday, 39 mines operated around Quartzsite. Mostly gold mines, with one or two cinnabar and lead. A profusion of old mines and collecting sites gave rise to Quartzsite in the mid 1960s as a rockhounding paradise. Quartzsite’s population now stands at roughly 3,000 people.

In 1856 Charles “Charly” Tyson dug a well that would provide water to cross country travelers, nearby ranchers, and to mine workers in the surrounding mountains. He built a small adobe structure and called it Fort Tyson. It eventually became a stagecoach stop on the route from Ehrenburg, Arizona to Prescott. By that time one building had become several, the compound taking on the fuller name of Tyson’s Well Stage Station.

Quartzsite owes its present appellation to postal naming conventions. The postmark “Tyson’s” served the town until 1895 when mail service ended due to the local postmaster falling ill. A new post office opened in 1896 at another location. The Postmaster General decreed that discontinued place names couldn’t be used and, further, only one-word names were acceptable. Quartz Site is what the townsfolk wanted, from all the quartz at a nearby stamp mill. The postal service shortened it to Quartzsite.

The PowWow Gem and Mineral Show first started in 1967 with 18 locals selling items at a small school to about a thousand people. The event progressed into what may now be the largest public rock and gem show in the country. Over these fifty years the entire town has become dotted with rock shops, auction houses, and trading posts of all kinds. While I was there a venue announced the sale of a pallet of American flag products, 4,000 helium balloons, and over 10,000 old Playboy magazines. Essentially, if something has been made, it’s probably been sold in Quartzsite.

Quartzsite’s popularity as America’s largest yard sale and winter retreat probably peaked in the year 2000. In January of 1999, Huell Howser, California travelogue producer par excellence, took his film crew outside the state for the first time to cover Quartzsite. In a warm and engaging hour, which is free to view online, Howser interviewed many townsfolk, mostly about the history of the community. Then, in 2000, National Geographiccame to visit. They called Quartzsite Nowhere, Arizona. Until November:

“Then, like a mob of chattering starlings settling into a too-small tree, the snowbirds start landing in November. By mid-January, the mechanical car counter at the Interstate 10 exit is ticking off 26,000 vehicles a day. Within weeks 175,000 RVs cram inches apart into 79 trailer parks, onto front yards, and spill out seven miles on either side of town. Every year more than a million people reset their internal navigation and drive from Everywhere, North America, to this western Arizona dot on the map. Luxury motor homes, fifth wheels, cab-over campers, trailers, and converted school buses plunk down on the same patch of land.” “America’s Largest Parking Lot” by Cary Wolinsky. National Geographic, January, 2001.

Things have settled down since then. My visit started on Wednesday, January, 18, 2017. Empty RV parking spaces in town seemed numerous. Space looked plentiful at BLM land outside of town. But since few venues charge for admission or parking, there’s no real way to keep count. The BLM did tell me approximately 28,401 people stayed at their free and pay areas in fiscal year 2016. And the Arizona D.O.T. says Main Street now averages 12,400 vehicles in each direction over the course of a year. The city website says 2,000,000 annual visitors. Whatever the numbers, the rock shows continue to draw vendors in record amounts, with waiting lists common for spaces.

As to the PowWow itself, Wednesday was ideal. Bright sunshine and short sleeve weather. I regretted not bringing sunscreen and I later bought a hat from the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club. More on them in a bit. To begin with, the PowWow is located just off Main Street at 235 East Ironwood Drive. Follow the cars. A parking lot doesn’t seem obvious, but keep moving along and you’ll find it; everything funnels to the main lot. Two tractor pulled shuttles take visitors to any entrance they like. Drivers give everybody time to get on, including those with walkers. Shuttle, parking, and admission are all free.

I came simply to look around, this being my first time in Quartzsite. Listing everything I saw would be like reciting a lengthy gem and mineral guide. Items varied from Bruneau jasper to lapis lazuli to malachite to Oregon sunstone. One booth sold “Hot Rocks”, with a Geiger counter next to them in case you had doubts. Another vendor had over a hundred sample boxes filled with different rocks and minerals, all arranged in alphabetical order. 21 boxes under “C” alone. That assortment ranged from Terlingua, Texas fluorescent calcite, to Coontail quartz from Magnet, Arkansas, to coyote teeth from British Columbia. And that was just one seller’s table.

A dinosaur sculpture greeted me on one aisle. On the next, oil paintings on marble. As I wandered, I came across Timothy Harned’s tables. He owns Bustin’s Glass and Minerals. I last saw Tim at the 2016 Logandale Fall Festival in Logandale, Nevada. The promoters advertised a Rock and Gem Faire at the event but Tim turned out to be the sole vendor. It was good to see him again and we talked. Again, Quartzsite is a meeting and gathering place.

The QIA building is PowWow’s center. QIA stands for the Quartzsite Improvement Association. Within their building is a limited number of dealers, display cases, and the kitchen and dining hall. Food is sold throughout the day, with all proceeds going toward supporting the QIA and its many community causes. The dining hall makes a great place to reconnoiter with your group, study the vendor list, and then plan what to see next.

The PowWow in 2017 ran from January, 18th until the 22d. As I mentioned, the Desert Gardens Rock, Gem, and Mineral Show was running concurrently and through February 28th. This venue is on the other side of I-10 at 1050 Kuehn Street. It has no parking lot shuttle service. A walk around Desert Gardens was similarly staggering, especially because of larger material. This is the place to find big pieces of rough. Need a spectacular garden rock? You’ll find it at Desert Gardens. The Desert Gardens venue was less busy than the PowWow and had a more relaxed feel. You should visit both. But the appeal of Quartzsite extends beyond the rock shows, to dedicated rock and gem shops and to the clubs that operate throughout the winter. First, the clubs.

The Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club is one of the largest and most organized rock clubs in the country. Membership is only $15 a year and they are active October through March. Field trips go every Tuesday through the season and twice a day during PowWow. Non-members pay $2 a trip. Roadrunners this year during PowWow went to find bacon rock, desert roses, geodes, apache tears, and green banded rhyolite. Among other things. Round trip mileage ranged from 40 to 162 miles over a variety of roads, many of them tough. http://qrgmc.org

The Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club consists of coin shooters and gold prospectors. Membership is a terrific bargain at $20 a person. This lets you in on the club’s 14 claims encompassing 280 acres of gold bearing ground. The club is most active November through the middle of March, however, you are free to work in summer if you can stand the 118 degree heat. If you are a coin shooter, you can participate in their many winter season hunts. $20 for each hunt.Do not mail your dues to them, instead, pay in person at the Miners Depot described further on.

http://quartzsitemetaldetectingclub.com/

I stayed in Quartzsite for three days, however, with so many club activities, a week would have been a better choice. And then there are the stores.

Quartzsite is peppered with stand-alone and pop up stores selling rocks, gems, and minerals. Quartzsite’s business and souvenir map reveals retail shops like Gem World, T-Rocks, Sunwest Silver, and, less obvious, Hardies Beads and Jewelry. That last store is a Quartzsite institution. While mainly selling collecting supplies and beads, they have an outstanding rock collection installed on their interior east wall. Their museum contains quite a few specimens from the Quartzsite area, including gold in quartz. See the image below.

For gold prospectors, make certain to stop in at Blake and Lisa Harmon’s Miners Depot on North Central Boulevard. Miners Depot is a desert prospecting store and the unofficial clearing house for gold information in the Quartzsite area. Inquire about the metal detecting club. As with everything in Quartzsite, hours are seasonal.

http://www.minersdepot.com/

While shopping, don’t miss a chance to visit the Tyson’s Well Museum. It’s free and enthusiastic volunteers will tell you the history of Quartzsite as a stage station and a supply depot for nearby mines. Speaking of which, outside in back, is the original assay office of the Mariquita mine. The many items speak to the everyday life of miners. The volunteer I talked to was also a member of the metal detecting club. He discussed at length the many mines surrounding Quartzsite. Be sure to notice the museum ceiling made of saguaro ribs.

Other winter shows include:

The Prospector’s Panorama:

(http://prospectorspanorama.com/),

Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show:

https://www.tysonwells.com/rock—gem-show.html

The Gold Show.

https://quartzsitegoldshowcom.wordpress.com/)

Desert Gardens — lots of big rough there, see picture below:

http://desertgardensrvpark.net/DGShowRGMShow.html

Quartzsite doesn’t take itself too seriously. The square dance club is called the Cactus Dodgers, a propane supply company is called Passmore Gas, and one street is named, well, No Name Street. Camel references abound and you should know the story of them and of Quartzsite’s most famous citizen before you visit.

In 1857 the War Department directed Edward Beale to pioneer a wagon trail from New Mexico to California. In his company were about 75 camels purchased from North Africa and the Middle East. This constituted a great experiment as to the worthiness of camels as pack animals in the great Southwest. Questions were many, such as, could camels swim the Colorado River? On this journey as packer and guide was one Phillip Tedro, born in present day Turkey and later a Syrian countryman. After converting to Islam, Tedro called himself Hadji Ali. The men in Beale’s company had difficulty pronouncing the name, however, and instead called him Hi Jolly.

After completing the journey, which Beale said went “without an accident of any kind whatsoever”, the troupe of camels were disbanded. (It Happened in Arizonaby James Crutchfield. Falcon Press, 1994) Speculation has it that the camel’s sensitive hooves, although perfectly suited to loose soft sand, could not endure the Sonoran Desert’s often rocky surface. A travel guide adds this, “The camels adapted well to their new environment but were never used successfully, partly because the sight of them caused horses, mules and cattle to stampede.” (AAA Arizona and New Mexico Tour Book, 2014)

Hadji bought a few camels from the company and returned with them to Arizona, where he engaged in various pursuits, including mining and acting as a government scout. He became an American citizen, married in Tucson and finally settled in Quartzsite. At a certain point he released his camels to the desert. He died in 1902 and is buried in Quartzsite’s cemetery. In 1935 the State of Arizona built the pyramidal Hi Jolly monument which you see today. According to the 2017 Quartzsite Visitor Guide , it is the town’s most visited spot. The legacy of camels echoes throughout Quartzsite in postcards, sculptures, and as ornaments in maps and guidebooks.

At any booth you’ll find miners who found and worked up material from their own property or claim. It is this direct connection that makes buying more personable than purchasing a rock through eBay or another second hand source. Two talks with vendors were memorable.

Karen Britton of Britton Apache Turquoise has been mining and working variscite and turquoise for 29 years in central Nevada in Lander County. Her late husband, Lee Britton, had even earlier ties to turquoise and turquoise like rocks. He first staked a Lander County claim in 1974. Their most famous property was the Apache Turquoise Mine. Karen mentioned a Rock&Gem article done by Mark Hatch where he described how he produced a stunning necklace starting from Apache Mine rough. (“Make an Apache Turquoise Necklace” by Mark Hatch Rock&Gem January, 1971). I read the piece later and it was indeed a tribute to the black included stones Britton regularly mines. I bought a cabochon from Karen, partly as a collectible, partly to support her continuing efforts.

After the show I read up on the Apache Mine. Two writers wrote that Apache Mine material once thought turquoise has now been identified as variscite. (Minerals of Nevada, Stephen B. Castor and Gregory Ferdock. Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 31, 2004.) What impressed me on that Wednesday, however, was Karen’s dedication to her beautiful rocks. She soldiers on with no web presence, appearing only at shows like those in Quartzsite. Besides talking to this veteran, I was also struck by a young couple just making their presence known in the rock business.


John Keady and Chelsea Thompson operate Rockchuck Gem and Mineral Gallery in tiny Schurz, Nevada. It’s just north of Walker Lake in Mineral County on I-95. The pair create cabs and jewelry, notably using turquoise and variscite from different Nevada locales. They also mine their own Hellsfire agate. Keady is by training a stone mason. I didn’t know all this until I came across their booth. I vaguely recalled a rock shop sign near Schurz but I never investigated it. And now, here were the owners. The shop had come to me. There’s more.

The last time I passed Walker Lake I stopped to read different information signs. They were installed on impressive monuments made of local stone. It turns out Keady built one. What were the odds I’d meet the builder of something I noted on a lonely road to Reno? And what were the chances I’d run into two such young and creative people almost six hundred miles from their home? As I said before, Quartzsite is a gathering and meeting place. For people you’ve already met. And for the people you will.

Some Quartzsite Tips

Many sellers and restaurants take only cash so be prepared. The only bank in town is the Horizon Community Bank. Take a notebook to keep track of purchases, vendors, and details. Bring sunscreen and a cap. A raincoat and a heavier coat for rain and wind that may well happen. Don’t forget your loupe and a camera. Remember, too, that Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time. Most things get going around 10:00 a.m. And look out for pedestrians while driving at night. They are everywhere and all dressed in black. One more thing. Bring your patience — you’re among friends.

Essential and mostly free publications to pick up around town:

Quartzsite, Arizona Visitor Guide

Quartzsite EZ-Guide (a map of vendor spaces for the four major shows)

QIA PowWow Gem and Mineral Show Guide (available at the PowWow)

The Quartzsite Nugget and Winter Visitors Guide

Where IZZAT Business Map (Absolutely vital for navigating Quartzsite. $2.00)

Desert Messenger News (Community paper)

Most publications won’t be available until the end of the year. Until then, keep abreast of Quartzsite happenings with the excellent Desert Messenger. Read it here:

http://MyQuartzsite.com

Consult the Quartzsite Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism: http://www.quartzsitetourism.com.

Lodging. Very limited in town.

Super 8, Quartzsite: (928) 927-8080. 2050 Dome Rock Road. Quite far from town but the biggest motel. Two stories. No elevator. Book before October.

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/super-8/quartzsite-arizona/super-8-quartzsite-az/overview

Quartzsite Yacht Club: (928) 927-5628. 1070 West Main Street.

http://www.quartzsiteyachtclub.com

Stagecoach Restaurant and Motel
(928) 927-8161
904 West Main Street

No true web presence. Call.

People also stay in Ehrenberg, AZ or Blythe, CA, about 18 miles and 22 miles away, respectively. Parker, AZ is about forty miles north on I-95 but the road crosses many washes and could be cut off in a rainstorm. Still, I like the drive and often stay at the Hampton Inn in Parker.

A Yelp list of RV Parks is here:

https://www.yelp.ca/search?cflt=rvparks&find_loc=Quartzsite%2C+AZ+85346

Camping in the desert? Here’s one BLM link:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/la-posa-long-term-visitor-area

MORE DETAILS!

Quartzsite, Arizona – City and Major Rock Event

Quartzsite comes alive in winter. January sees a gathering of rock, gem, and mineral collectors and sellers from all over the world. I’ve written about this extensively at my blog, https://southwestrockhounding.com. See you there in January.

Quartzsite Museum aka the Tyson’s Well Stage Station

161 West Main St
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
928-927-5229

33°39.971′ N 114°13.182′ W

https://www.visitarizona.com/business/quartzsite-museum

Mining artifacts and assay office. Seasonal hours. The Tyson’s Well Museum is a must-stop. It is free and enthusiastic volunteers explain the history of Quartzsite as a stage station and a supply depot for nearby mines.

Hardies Beads & Jewelry

1250 W. Main St
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
928-927-6381

33°39.754′ N 114°14.256′ W

http://hardiesonline.com

Outstanding rock, gem, and mineral collection on display. Most material collected locally. Not many rocks for sale, mostly things bead related. A Quartzsite institution.  Seasonal hours.

Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club

Headquarter Address:
65 Ironwood, Quartzsite, AZ (Quartzsite Improvement Association building)

33°39.925′ N 114°12.843′ W

Mailing Address:
PO Box 338, Quartzsite, AZ  85346
928-927-5531

http://qrgmc.org

The Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club is one of the largest and most organized rock clubs in the country. Extremely active, especially October through March. Field trips go every Tuesday through that time and twice a day during the QIA’s PowWow. Non-members pay $2 a trip. Roadrunners may go to find, among other things, bacon rock, desert roses, geodes, apache tears, and green banded rhyolite. Major shop facilities and classes.

Miners Depot

566 North Central Blvd
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
Messaging through their website

33°40.538′ N 114°13.033′ W

Miners Depot is desert prospecting store and a clearing house for gold information in the Quartzsite area. Detectors, tools, screens, lots of screens, the place to stop before heading out. Generally open six days a week during the main prospecting season, from about November through mid-March.

https://minersdepot.com/

Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club

Mailing Address
PO Box 3102
Quartzsite, AZ 85359-3102
928-927-7150
Meeting address (Miners Depot)
566 North Central Blvd
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
33°40.538′ N 114°13.033′ W

A club of coin shooters and gold prospectors. Membership is a terrific bargain at $20 a person. This lets you in on the club’s 14 claims encompassing 280 acres of gold bearing ground. The club is most active November through the middle of March, however, you are free to work in summer if you can stand the 118 degree heat. If you are a coin shooter, you can participate in their many winter season hunts. $20 for each hunt.

Of special note, they do not mail memberships. Sign up and pay dues at their club meetings, coin hunts, their table at the PowWow in January, and at Miners Depot. Really, though, get out to Miners Depot. It is well worth your visit.

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Map Videos Coming

I’ll take a stab at why certain hardcopy maps are still essential, providing a big picture view that a small screen cannot begin to give. For prospecting and traveling to new areas, maps like BLM’s Surface Status Management Maps (Status maps), still lead the way to new ground and new adventures.

Click on the link below if a video preview does not appear above:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/30384874

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Prospecting Hints Using The Diggings.com

The Diggings.com is a great resource for checking out past and present mining activity on land throughout the West. Here I give a one take presentation on what I look for when I am looking for open ground.

Presenting video this way is experimental for me right now. Make sure to turn your screen to “Full Screen Mode.”

Click on the link or photo:

https://www.loom.com/share/47f7682c2cee4d369fa910a0b63ff9cc

——

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Prospecting Thoughts While Traveling in Southern Nye County, Nevada

The fun stuff: Instagram — tgfarley

I went driving today to my club’s claims in the Johnnie Mining District in the hills outside Pahrump, Nevada. I never made it.

Instead, while driving HWY 160 west toward Pahrump, I thought about all the BLM land to the south of that road that may have not been recently prospected or rock hounded. The reason? A sturdy and nasty barbed wire highway fence with few breaks in it, only one faint road into the area in several miles, and few good pullouts to park. That’s enough to deter most prospectors even if the land is open and the ground unclaimed.

Compare that to Crystal Road, which strikes north from HWY 160 about four miles from I-95. No highway fence on either side. Fairly soon after leaving HWY 160, 15 to 20 large piles of dirt appear somewhat randomly over a mile or so to the east of Crystal Road as one travels to Crystal. Backhoe produced. Someone searching for gold.

I looked over some of these piles and their trenches. Must have been fairly old workings as BLM now requires a plan and  permit to operate heavy machinery on a claim. Unless some locals went rouge one day, possibly sampling on a large scale.

While I didn’t see any claim markers I felt uneasy about investigating further. Normally I would break out my metal detector or a bucket to take some rock and gravel. The more rural you get, however, the more testy locals become. I did have my laptop and there was cell coverage. I could have pulled up LandMatters to see if the area was under claim. But all map drawing websites are painfully slow with an average cell connection.

When I got home I researched the area a little. That ground was indeed unclaimed, with the only a large set of claims around the rough settlement of Crystal. If I go again to sample I will print out some maps first. In thinly populated areas, any truck parked on the side of the road gets attention. A person with a metal detector, a pick, and some five gallon buckets may be the highlight of the day for a nearby resident. Word will get out fast. If you prospect, you must handle the attention it attracts.

When I was last at my club’s claims, a fellow member pointed out the view east to I-95. “There’s gold all the way to the highway.” Hmm. Maybe washed from the hills. But in paying amounts? Some people think so, judging by those exploratory diggings and the fact there are so many claims around Crystal.

With temperatures now climbing, and my book deadline getting closer, I won’t be going back soon. But I will keep wondering about the area. And wondering what lies on the other side of HWY 160, the same looking ground but prospecting seemingly defeated by a wire fence. There is much to explore.

Okay, I will admit it. I got under that fence to sample a wash. Brought the gravel home. I don’t hope for gold when sampling blind, I look for black sand. Hardly any. But I didn’t get out my Whites GMT, which has a black sand tracking feature. It produces a  numerical readout to close in on areas with a greater likelihood of paystreaks. It’s far easier to search a gravel bar or a desert wash than with any other method.  But I ramble.

 

 

 

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https://www.instagram.com/tgfarley/


 

My Apologies to the BLM

I wrote previously that the BLM doesn’t recognize rockhounding anymore as an activity. While that may be the case at the national level, the BLM in California still recognizes rockhounding as the vital and rewarding hobby that it is.

This page recognizes rockhounding with a video featuring Bill Depue, Founder and President of Diamond Pacific Tool in Barstow, perhaps the leading manufacturer  of lapidary equipment in the world. I had the great privilege of meeting Bill a month or two ago and I wrote about it here. In keeping with his modest character, Bill wears a Diamond Pacific hat but never mentions his involvement.

Interestingly, that page does not list all California BLM  rockhounding sites, it just mentions that the activity exists. Their Needles field office once had no reservation about describing sites.

Click here for an archived page that list sites under Needles’ management along with photographs showing what might be collected at each one. This is true endorsement. But I appreciate any effort that BLM California makes. Thank you!

Photograph below of Bill Depue.

 

 

 

 

Rockhound Alert! Comments to BLM Needed Now!

BLM is considering opening the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and surrounding areas to casual collecting of rocks, gems, and minerals, as well as non-vertebrae fossils. This vast area in Southern Utah has been closed to collectors since 1996.

BLM needs your comments by November 30th. The following .pdf file gives you ways to comment electronically and by post. It also links to other valuable resources.

http://www.sdmg.org/pdf/public-lands/flyer_2018_GSENM-KEPA.pdf

The Southern California Paleontological Society is at the forefront of the comment movement, having drafted an excellent letter supporting the opening of this rugged yet beautiful land.

Original letters  are strongly urged. I typed up a letter this morning and it is already in the mail. Here’s wishing you get involved, too. Thanks in advance!

Copy of my letter sent to BLM:

11/06/ 2018

ATTN: GSENM/KEPA Draft RMPs/EIS
669 S. Hwy 89A
Kanab, UT 84741
Attn: Matt Betenson

Re: GSENM-KEPA RMPs-EIS Vol. 1-508, Comment on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kanab-Escalante Planning Area Draft Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statement

To Whom It May Concern:

Hello, my name is Thomas Farley and I am an outdoor writer living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I support a decision to open up the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) and the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area to casual rock collecting.

The request for comments suggests that  proper identification of the subject be made so I am forced to use boilerplate in this paragraph.  Specifically, I am commenting on the “Management Actions incorporated in Alternative D specific to the Kanab- Escalante Planning Area listed under Record # 1050 and #1051 (in the Draft Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statement), and the Management Actions incorporated in Alternative D specific to units of the Grand Staircase National Monument listed under Record # 1048 and #1049, which would allow casual collecting in designated and posted areas within the monument.”

As to my comments, I belong to several rock, gem, and mineral clubs, as well as two  prospecting clubs. I am currently writing a book on rockhounding for beginners in the Southwestern United States. Adventure Publications is my publisher and the book will be out in early 2020. In my writing for the book I’ve encountered countless rockhounds who are aggrieved with the constantly diminishing amount of public land to collect on. I would urge all planners in this matter to consider allowing casual collecting in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) and the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area (KEPA). These grounds have been closed for too long. Nearby Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada allows casual collecting of rocks and minerals and has suffered no ill effects. As land withdrawn from mineral claims, these kind of areas allow rockhounding without the worry of trespass and as such provide a stress free exploring experience.

Rockhounding is an enjoyable solo and family activity. Sadly, the hobby seems to be gentrifying as fewer and fewer young people participate in the hobby. I think these numbers would increase as ground open to collecting increases. As an adjunct to camping or even day trips,  rockhounding is a terrific pastime that encourages an appreciation for our public lands. It increases tourism and brings money to rural towns and villages.  I strongly advise the committee to allow casual collecting.

Best regards,

Thomas Farley
3250 S Town Center Drive Unit 2036
Las Vegas, NV 89135