Another Tool of The Trade: The Falcon MD 20 Gold Tracker

PLEASE NOTE:

As my August 1, 2019 book deadline draws near, I will not be posting regularly to this site. Follow me instead on Instagram, from your smartphone or desktop.

Handle: tgfarley

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

My Instagram account is fun and easier for me to do under deadline than blog posts. Thanks!


The Falcon MD 20 Gold Tracker is a good tool but it often produces uncertain results.

As depicted in this video, here’s how the detector should work. The detector sounds when going _toward_ gold, silver, copper and so on. Non-ferrous stuff. Which includes aluminum and, unfortunately, too often, strong iron targets. Those overwhelm the detector.

This pet wood shown probably contains iron oxides, giving a signal when the probe moves _away_from the target. In the field it is often difficult to tell which direction in which a signal is coming from.

Rocks need minerals in enough quantity to test reliably. The detector responds better when something singular is presented, not a mix of different, weak, conflicting materials. Never-the-less, even with a conflicting signal, one knows a rock is metalliferous.

I do like it for many reasons, though, particularly when pawing through ore samples at a rock shop. There may be a bucket of rocks advertised as silver ore, for example. If those rocks are from a named mine then I am interested. I’ll use the Falcon to test each rock for a signal. Finding none I pass.

This is especially important when testing gold specimens. A flashy specimen labeled as gold may be pyrite. If so, it won’t trip the Falcon. In either direction of the probe. Pyrite doesn’t register on any quality metal detector. Or it is cancelled out. While pyrite is iron related, it is what’s called a sulfide and not fully iron by any means. It is too different in its  makeup to signal a metal detector.

Pyrite is often mixed in with gold but if one can’t see gold, and if a detector doesn’t register gold, then proceed with tremendous caution with any purchase.

If a mineral isn’t visible, I want that rock to at least respond to a detector. You’ll read nonsense about ore containing a mineral at a level above the crustal abundance. How do they know?

The Falcon is also good for testing rocks brought home from the field, ones not considered as metal bearing when collected. All finds should be eventually tested with UV lights, a Geiger counter, and a metal detector.

Burro Creek Campground Near Wikieup, Arizona

PLEASE NOTE:

As my August 1, 2019 book deadline draws near, I will not be posting as much at this site. Instead, consider following me on Instagram, from your smartphone or desktop.

Handle: tgfarley

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

My Instagram account is fun and easier for me to do under deadline than blog posts. Thanks!


Burro Creek Campground, about ten miles or fewer from Wikieup, Arizona. This campground is base camp for rock clubs from as far as Utah. Agate is the main draw in the surrounding area, not at the camp itself. Potable water, first-come, first serve, the small group camp by reservation. $14 a night for the individual camp sites. Good pull throughs. Would advise smaller vehicles, ideal tent camping. No day use fee!

Creek is pretty but access is past narrowly spaced pipes, a nasty barbed wire fence encloses the entire campground. Good, clean water flowing right now. Great canyon setting, about 1,900 feet. Didn’t check cell coverage, I assume none. Anybody not enjoying rockhounding would still enjoy this campground.

View from the bridge over Agate Creek. Canyon invites exploring although get a BLM surface status management map of the area to show public land ownership.

The bridge abutments are  nicely done in Southwestern Art Deco style.

Don’t drive across the bridge with any large vehicle or a trailer in tow. Single lane dirt road beyond the bridge, I don’t know at what point you could turn around. Ask first. Logical place to turn around is the campground with its pull throughs in the Day Camp and regular campsite areas. Group camp looks tricky to turn around a large vehicle.

All 4X4 owners want a picture of their rig. It’s a thing.

More From Rolf Luetcke in St. David, Arizona

PLEASE NOTE:

As my August 1, 2019 book deadline draws near, I will not be posting as much at this site. Instead, consider following me on Instagram, from your smartphone or desktop.

Handle: tgfarley

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

My Instagram account is fun and easier for me to do than blog posts. Thanks!


Hi Tom,

I had said I would send a photo of one I was taking and a little story.

The Ludlockite is a piece I had only read about in a big “Worlds Best Minerals Book we have. It was a piece that a mineral dealer had seen on a porch of a guy in Namibia that sold specimens from the Tsumeb Mine, one of the most famous mines in the world.

The piece on the porch was being used to hold open the screen door. The dealer asked if it was for sale. The guy sold it to him and he sent it right off to his US business and it turned out to be a new mineral and that one chunk on the guy’s porch was all there was.

I had no idea when I saw one for sale for $10, the piece I took the photo of, that it had been discovered in the mine after that first piece was studied. They traced the associated minerals with it and found the place in the mine it had come from.

More was brought out but it was never very common. I got this one for so little and am very happy with it, as much for the story as the piece and as pretty as it is.

The other two I took photos of today too. The Ludjibaite is a rare species and I paid a bit more for the piece, $45 but it is very nice.

The last one of Ludlamite from Mexico we got many years ago and I paid only $10 for it as well and it is a well crystalized piece.

So, that is my recent material.

Now to post them on Mindat.org

Later,

Rolf (Sunshine Gallery and Gifts, St. David, Arizona — S of Tucson)

Ludjibaite with Pseudomalachite 4mm fov Shituro, Katanga Prov. D. R. Congo (Blue)

Ludlamite 7mm fov Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico (Green)

Ludlockite, Germanite, plus 5mm fov Tsumeb Mine, Namibia (Red)

More on the famous Tsumeb mine comes from this text at Mr. Kerry Day’s excellent website, he being the owner and proprietor of KAYGEEDEE MINERALS, a Canadian vendorship devoted to the mineral collecting hobby. He was an economic geologist/mineralogist/SEM-EDS operator for many years. “Selling off my vast collection of mineral specimens, gemstones and lapidary rough has become my retirement hobby.”

It’s a truly fascinating site that I recommend you visit immediately, for a sensational trip around the world while staying right at home. Thousands of great pictures.

http://kaygeedeeminerals.com/home_pagecanadian_minerals

TSUMEB MINERALS – Last updated April 12, 2019

The Tsumcorp polymetallic ore deposit was a near vertical ore pipe located near the town of Tsumeb, Namibia. A unique feature was three oxidation zones at various depths – the result of groundwater flow. The combination of oxidation(s) and unique chemistry created a vast suite of well crystallized minerals that are treasured by collectors worldwide. Unfortunately, mining ceased in the 1990s but neighboring ore pipes are now being explored/mined.

Rockchuck Gem & Mineral Gallery in Schurz, Nevada

PLEASE NOTE:

As my August 1, 2019 book deadline draws near, I will not be posting as much at this site. Instead, consider following me on Instagram, from your smartphone or desktop.

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

My Instagram account is fun and easier for me to do than blog posts. Thanks!


I had a happy time recently visiting the Keadys at their rock shop in Schurz, Nevada, a tiny town 34 miles north of Hawthorne Nevada. Only 90 miles south of Reno. Their store is at the intersection of South Highway 95 (Alternative) and US-95 itself. See the map below. Schurz is quite close to Walker Lake.

Rockchuck Gem & Mineral Gallery

4045 S. Highway 95
Schurz, Nevada

(760) 978-4567

https://rockchucknevada.com

Chelsea and John Keady are miners, lapidary artists, rockhounds, and all-around good people.  Bryan Smalley affectionately refers to them as “The Kids.” These young people represent others like them who signal a bright future for the rock and gem trade.

 

They built their store themselves and everything that goes in it. They sell material they have either personally sourced or dug themselves. That includes Green Mist variscite and this Hellsfire agate. They carry many local rocks and gem material and fashion much of that into jewelry. John and Kelsea sell ready-made jewelry at the shop and they are always ready to do commission work.

 

A store highlight is a huge crystal they recently installed.

 

The Keady’s are now keeping the store open more often. Call first, though, to make sure they are there, and not off on one of their claims. If you can’t visit them at the shop, you might catch them at Quartzsite in January. They try to get there each year.

This store is a memorable stop on any drive from Las Vegas to Reno, or on any travel through central Nevada. Rockchuck is big on Facebook so check them out there if you want to keep up with all their latest happenings.

https://www.facebook.com/therockchuck/

 

The store is right on the Highway. They’ve put up new roadsigns. And you can get fireworks nearby after you’ve loaded up with rocks.

 

Another Update on The Gemfield Gem Claims in Goldfield, Nevada

Sharon Artlip has been in touch. She and her sister Nadiah Beekum own the Gemfield Gem claims in Goldfield, Nevada.

I’ve written quite a bit about the claims at this site and also in the May, 2016 issue of Rock&Gem Magazine. Another name for the claims now seems to be “The Rainbow Chalcedony Claims.”

Sharon writes that, “It has been a wonderful couple of years.  We are still having fun at Gemfield and always trying to improve it.  If you would like I will send you the current brochure.”

Rocks go for a dollar a pound. Everything is on the honor system. Register at one of several Goldfield businesses before going to the claim. Easy dirt road but not recommended for large RVs.

Wild burro country. Antelope, too.

Here’s a link below to the current brochure in .pdf:

2019-03-Gemfield Gem-Claims-History-pamphlet

This is a link to Sharon’s website supporting the claims:

http://www.gemfieldnv.com

And here’s a postcard photo of the claims. Click here or on the image for a much bigger view:

 

Sharon holding chalcedony in Goldfield, Nevada. She’s at Bryan Smalley’s Hidden Treasure Trading Company at 489 Bellevue Avenue.  Notice her truck’s new personalized license plates.

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.

 

 

 

 

Minerals Unlimited in Ridgecrest, California

What do the best bars and rock shops have in common? They all have a gravel parking lot. Whenever you hear gravel underneath your wheels in the desert, you know you’re going to have a great time. Don’t fear for your vehicle though, as you only have to go fifty feet off pavement. And that distance will take you very, very far into a wonderful rock, mineral, and jewelry world.

 

Wendi “Ace” Elkins, singlehandedly owns and runs Minerals Unlimited in Ridgecrest, California. It sits next to a Salvation Army thrift shop and is one the finest rock and mineral stores in the Southwest. Its been operating for seventy years, always family owned. Minerals are neatly arranged in alphabetical order in dozens and dozens of wooden drawers, all of them inviting you to tour our rocky planet without leaving Ridgecrest.


A tremendous rock yard exists outside, with rough of all kinds and descriptions.

Working under the moniker of “Jewelry by “Ace,” Wendi fashions jewelry as a creative outlet for herself and to show off the many rocks and minerals her store offers. This description and picture is from her website:


“This lovely slab of native silver in calcite was mined from the Alhambra Mine, in Grant County, New Mexico. I used sterling silver wire to compliment the design. I had to let this one “talk” to me for several months, to make a complimentary wrap, but I think it was worth the wait.”

Wendi and I commiserated over static photographs being unable to convey the sparkle of jewelry and of rocks in general. You have to see in your hands the play of light from her designs  to see how special they are. Another reason to go in person.

You never know what you’re going to find at this store. I pulled out a drawer at random and it produced a stunning display of violet fluorite with cleaved octahedron shapes.

Stop in Ridgecrest whenever you’re in Southern California or traveling to nearby Death Valley. You may want one thing but you’ll carry out many more. She sells online, too, so check her website or give her a call. Make sure to phone before visiting in case she is out of town at a rock show.

And if you want to buy an entire rock shop, not just a rock, talk to Wendi. Running the store has become tiring and Wendi is considering serious offers on her business. She has worked at Minerals Unlimited since she was eight, on the payroll from 16, the owner since 2003. During this decision making time, however, the store remains fully open and operating and there is no thought of closing. There is a tremendous inventory here,  built up over decades with a great deal of material no longer available and unique to this shop. If you buy the store, you’ll have a head start on running it because everything is labeled!

Ridgecrest is centrally located to the historic mining districts around Randsburg to the south and Ballarat to the east. Nearby Sequoia National Forest to the west offers great rockhounding, especially along Highway 178, and the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is revealed by heading north on U.S. Route 395. Starting at Ridgecrest itself, guided tours organized by the Maturango Museum go out in spring and fall to visit Little Petroglyph Canyon. There, rock art images by the thousands were etched into canyon walls and boulders by native people long ago. Plan well ahead for this bucket list tour.

Ridgecrest is a relatively small, quiet town, supported economically in large part by the Naval Air Station called China Lake. Its role is ongoing and vital, its decommissioning practically unthinkable, lending stability to this tranquil desert community. If you are near base at twilight, you may hear the lilting sound of “Retreat” over loudspeakers. This marks the lowering of the flag for the day. Cars on base stop and park for this short interlude. People get out of their cars and face the flag or the direction of the music.

A unique shop. A unique town.

Minerals Unlimited
127 N Downs Street
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
760-375-5279

wendi@mineralsunlimited.com

 

The Ernst Quarries Near Shark Tooth Hill, Bakersfield, California

Rob Ernst explains large concretions at a one-of-a-kind fee dig in Southern California. These large specimens are retained for education and scientific research, however, one can keep nearly anything dug up in a designated area.

For a limited time each year, the Ernst Quarries near Bakersfield opens much of their ground to the public to collect marine fossils. Shark teeth are the big draw. Rob will patiently and enthusiastically explain the ocean environment that was present 150 million years ago. Tiny to small shark teeth are everywhere, they can even be found on the surface. Digging and screening with persistence will reveal bigger teeth on most days.

I got to the Quarries on a day threatening rain. Weather can knock out a dig day when the final stretch of quarry road becomes impassable. Depending on conditions, Rob may arrange for people to walk a few hundred yards from their cars to the dig sites, rather than cancel a date.  Rob is keenly aware that people from as far as back East make flight plans, car rentals, and hotel reservations to get to his property. He does everything he can to make dig days happen.

Visitors can help by reading the information packet sent to them by e-mail and by  printing out the location  map and release form ahead of time. As of right now, there is a road repair project happening on Round Mountain Road with traffic control in effect. In leaving the property, wait for a pilot vehicle before turning onto the road, otherwise, you may wind up facing a line of traffic coming directly at you in the opposite direction.

The image below show a tooth in matrix, the species I do not know. I think this looks better than a tooth alone. Be careful in digging. The silt will now have to be stabilized first, perhaps with a diluted solution of Elmer’s white glue and water.  Rob can explain how to do this.

I knew nothing about marine fossils when I went and my trip opened my eyes into another world of collecting. Fossil collectors are as rabid as rockhounds are about their pursuit. If you are lucky and put in the hours, you might have a chance at finding something like the tooth below. This dig is highly recommended and I wish you luck if you go.

The shark teeth pictured below were gathered by surface collecting over no more than fifteen minutes of off and on looking. The white teeth and fragments show  bleaching caused by lying on top of the ground. The teeth with more color were pulled from the ground as these show indications on the surface of where some teeth are. I’d say your chances of finding something better over a period of a few hours of actual digging and screening are pretty good. Note the nice little one in the shadow.

Make sure to look for other things. Jeff spotted these two vertebrae pieces lying on the ground of a trench. Although identification is often impossible for vertebrae of this period, he thinks they may be from a junior whale or a sea lion. Perhaps. He also says that upon close examination of fossils like these, most show tooth marks, evidence of the food chain in action from long ago. Few things died a natural death of old age.

It’s All About The Gram

An upcoming road trip will take me to Boron, California to stop in at Desert Treasures, if they are open. On the outskirts of Boron, the Rio Tinto Borax Mine Visitor Center is next and then on to Barstow to visit the Desert Discovery Center to view The Old Woman Meteorite. Then over the Tehacapi Pass to Bakersfield.

Next day to Shark Tooth Hill and The Ernst Quarries, next to Randsburg, and then on to Ridgecrest to visit Minerals Unlimited.

North after that to Death Valley, then east to Beatty, and then a drop back down to Las Vegas. I will be posting photos along the way if I have cell coverage.

If you are not on Instagram, consider joining. It’s all about the gram.

My username is: @tgfarley

On the web: https://www.instagram.com/tgfarley/

A Destination Rock Shop Opens in Arizona!

Rolf and Mary Luetcke are back in business, after a five year hiatus. The store was open as a rock, gift, jewelry and art store for over 23 years in southeast Arizona. Located only three miles from Benson, Arizona on Highway 80 on the way to Tombstone.

Being in the mineral business for almost fifty years, stock on hand is in a few thousand flats of minerals and piles of outside material for collectors and cutters alike. The store also houses a number of museum displays of natural history items, which are not for sale and a small black light room with colorful minerals under UV lights.

If you plan a trip to Southeastern Arizona, stop in and say Hello.

Sunshine Gallery and Gifts
1313 North Highway 80
St. David, Arizona 85630

+1 (520) 586-4560

marieluetcke@hughes.net

 

 

Dear Thomas,

We had a shop for 23 years before we retired for a while and reopened only last year. Over the years we accumulated a few thousand flats of material and so far have priced and labeled over two thousand flats and more still in several sheds to do. After 50 years of collecting have a ton of material to sell as we go. How did this all get started?

Well, I have been a collector as far back as I remember. As a kid in Germany I picked up fossil crinoids in my grandmothers’ back yard area where they had brought in a load of crushed rock.

As a child I collected butterflies, lizards, snakes and about anything critter. I did photography for years and worked at a zoo and ran a nature class. I got into rocks because a fellow I knew in about 1972 in Bisbee was going to a small rock shop in Mexico. The fellow who ran the rock shop was an old gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather. He sold mineral specimens and I had no idea what they were. In his yard he had piles of minerals, mostly discards he tossed out when he got a new batch of minerals. My friend happened to see this one pile and since I ran the nature class and was looking for things to give the kids, he thought I could get those piles for next to nothing.

I asked the old gentleman what he wanted for the one pile and he said $40. I got a bunch of boxes and loaded my station wagon. Turned out to be a thousand pounds of minerals. Tons of different kinds of things, copper, black tourmaline and a large number of other minerals. I ended up buying three piles, each about a thousand pounds and each pile a few bucks more. All three about $150. I didn’t know what they were and luckily I had met the geologist for the Bisbee mines. He helped me with identifications and suggestions of books and such.

That got me going and I ran with it. Started buying a reference collection at various sales and at the Tucson show. Ended up pretty much learning all I now know just by doing. Got pretty good at it and then about ten years later, started the rock shop we had. Just kept soaking up knowledge like a sponge and I guess after about 50 years, know a thing or two about minerals.

I have also written over 50 articles on my Mindat.org page so did a good bit of writing too. Also wrote sci-fi stories and much more. Now I do articles for an online Australian mineral magazine.

My interest in all of nature has not changed but my main focus is on minerals now.

As for the shop, you can list address and phone number if you like. Number is 520 586-4560. We are open most of the time since we live on 5 acres and one building is the store and one our mobile home. So, hours are open most of the time unless the gate is locked.

Today was a busy day in the store so had to stop often to go and wait on customers.

We are not at the store all day but live right by it so when the buzzer says someone drove in I go over. Generally open from 9 to 5 in winter and 9 to 6 in summer. I am a person who likes doing something most of the time so keep busy with all kinds of things. Don’t know what the word bored means.

Well, that is a bit about us here.

Hope it gives a bit of info.

I did write up the one story I told you about getting started with minerals on the Mindat.org article Mexican Rock Shop. That was one great way to start with minerals.

Take care,

Rolf

 

This morning my project was to put the Rock Shop sign on the front of our place. Had picked out a bunch of the smaller slabs we had in boxes to use for the letters and made the words in the house and then took each letter out on a beer flat and then used hot glue to mount the letters on the wall. So, that was our morning project.