To Shoshone, California in The Morning

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Okay, who’s the rockhound dumping in the desert? Pulled off the road a bit about eight miles from Shoshone. I promised myself no rockhounding today but look what I found! This isn’t construction debris, some of the sandstone pieces have been slabbed. Nice 1/4 inch thickness. Collected half a bag of miscellaneous. A few agate pieces light up soft lime green but nothing special. My metal detector doesn’t trip on anything but one of my Geiger counters won’t quiet down on a sandstone piece with a purple deposit. Hmm. Another mystery. I will return. Oh, the last photo shows the tricky entry point to the highway. Don’t get high centered. #roadtrip#rockhound#rockhounding#shoshone#restingspringswilderness#inyocounty#minerals#radioactivity

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Found the Mines!

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Old but well shouldered road leads on. This is on the other side of the hill that makes up the south wall of the canyon I visited last. BLM has this mine mapped, calling it the Shaw Mine. Mindat says that is one of many names used in the area. Topozone shows the location on an older USGS topo. Nothing showing on the map about any mine in the canyon. That will take going to the USGS store to see if a much older USGS map shows what was happening there. I am walking on this road past the several hundred yard section that has been completely destroyed by floods. There are a few two rock cairns to guide you. #geology #geologyrocks#limestone#nyecounty#mines#minerals#lead#zinc#silver#nopahwilderness#pahrump

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I sound depressed, I’m just tired. And I should have said a deposit of calcite, not calcite by itself. These rocks were picked up at random in broad daylight. I mention the Convoy Dragonfly. Great portable lamp. Take it fully charged and have spare batteries. Long wave. The majority of fluorescent material shows up under SW, nevertheless, this will give you a good idea of an area’s potential if you have to hike in to a collecting spot. This is iPhone photography of course so colors and brightness are only partially true. I’ll show off some more interesting rocks (non-UV), later on. #geology#rocks#ultravioletlight #fluorescentminerals #nopahwilderness#inyocounty#pahrump#explore#outdoors#mojave#desert

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More in the North Nopah

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Some miscellaneous from today. Video is from the south side of the wash, with wonderful shade. One picture is of what looks like a built up trail below the stone outbuildings. Leads to nowhere. T-post stakes represent newer claim holders but all mining claims ceased when the area moved into Wilderness status years ago. No inholders here. Was looking originally for zinc related minerals since I am into fluorescent minerals, glowing rocks. Supposedly, some zinc was mined here. Zinc is an activator. Interesting country, however, and there are trails south of this canyon. Probably not burro trails since I have seen none of them or their scat. #geology #nopahwilderness #rocks#mining#history#explore#prospecting#minerals#geologistonboard #pahrump

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In The North Nopah. Again.

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Sorry this isn’t in portrait view. Above the shelters I heard a continuous noise on this fairly windless day. Did not have my external mike. Huge amount of bees around this opening. Constant wind noise which I usually hear from a mine with an unblocked opening somewhere. You tell me, air shaft for the mine or from a cave? People were definitely up here and though it doesn’t look like a man made opening, I’m thinking it could be little else. Could not feel any wind because of the bees preventing me from getting close but that has to be wind noise, coming or going. I wonder if there is moisture below and hence the bees. You tell me! #mines#geology#rocks#caves#limestone#exploring#tunnels#nopah#bees#desert#mojave#inyocounty#geologistonboard#geologyrocks#adventure

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Experimenting With Green Screen

Green screen or Chroma Key is a film or video technique where one object is superimposed over another still or moving image. Some films today are shot entirely against a green screen background, with the actors later dropped in against footage that was made or taken elsewhere.

I’m using inexpensive Movavi software for this experiment. I bought two green plastic folders at Walgreens and taped them together. Then, I moved my hand across this green screen while shooting a video of it.

First video showing green screen from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

I added this footage to what is called an overlay track in Movavi. It’s the top track you see in the photo below. I then added some footage of video I recently filmed at Red Rock.

A few clicks of controls in the Movavi program resulted in the video you see here. I now need to make or buy a larger green screen if I want to appear in front of moving landscapes, outer space scenes, or walking into a volcano.

The video you see below is not simply my hand in front of the computer monitor, it is within the film itself.

You can’t shoot yourself in front of a monitor because all sorts of weird halo effects occur. You’ll notice these in the video below because I shot that footage with my iPhone off the monitor.

Second video shot off of monitor with halos from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Now notice this footage, this is the final video, no shooting off the screen. Much cleaner. You can make a green screen as big as you want. Just get a tripod and some heavy duty green paper. Don’t move quickly or you will leave green traces as you see in the video. Photography stores sell complete kits including proper lighting.

Final product, not shot off of screen from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Green screen seemed daunting by the descriptions I read but the process is straightforward. I’m looking forward to more experimenting.

A Quick Two Hours in The North Nopah

Last week I discovered some outbuildings to an old mine on the east side of this particular hill in the North Nopah WA. Today, I was trying to find some clues to the west side claims that make up the old Nopah Group. No luck today, the heat too great to stay out too long.

Back to China Ranch and On to Shoshone

The drive down China Ranch Road into and through the China Ranch Wash is dramatic. Limited turn-around for any RV pulling a car or trailer. Small RVs can probably find parking at the main parking lot.

No cell coverage! You must be self-reliant in the desert. Perhaps a quarter of the continental United States does not have cell phone service. You can read about my practicing with a satellite terminal that provides voice calls here:

China Ranch Road from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Here’s the shorter video for those with shorter attention spans:


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Back at China Ranch. Armagosa Tiver, mesquite bosque, old railroad bed. #roadtrip#geology #rocks#river#armagosa#inyocounty#mesquite#tecopa#mojavedesert#oasis#palmtrees#datepalms

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Museum building closed, rock tour open. #geology #quartz #rockhound #rocks#roadtrip

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In Shoshone. Details to follow. Beautiful day on the desert. #shoshone#deathvalley#roadtrip#inyocounty #geolgy

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The North Nopah and Finding the Nancy-Ann Mine

Trailhead coordinates for both mines

36°07.765′ N 116°10.426′ W
36.129417, -116.173780

Nopah Group Claim area No. 1 : Mary-Ann Mine, other pervious names (approximate)

36°07.626′ N -116°09.318′ W
36.12710, -116.15530

Nopah Group Claim area No. 2

36.12305, -116.15919 (MRDS approximate)
36°07.38300′, -116°09.55140′

More workings listed than the other claim area, I have not explored this area. This has potential for better rocks.

In The North Nopah


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Going to take a hike to get to the old Mary Ann Mine. No problem. #rockhounding#geology#minerals#fluorescentminerals #zinc #inyocounty

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This comment is from R.C., a practicing geologist who taught me never to say granite unless I was absolutely certain, true granite relatively uncommon. Best to say something is granitic. Hi Tom, You have a granitic porphyry. The pink rectangles are large crystals of feldspar that formed at depth. It’s the first mineral to crystallize. Then the magma was moved closer to the surface, cooled more rapidly, so the other minerals didn’t have time to form very large crystals. The pink feldspar crystals are phenocrysts, from Greek for “visible crystals.” Neat rock. #geology#granite #nopahrangewilderness #inyocounty#rockhounding#geologistonboard#feldspar#minerals

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Latest Visit To Goldfield, Nevada

Latest Doings in Goldfield, Nevada

Goldfield is getting a new gold mine! In my May, 2016 Rock&Gem article on Gemfield, I wrote that a new mine might be coming to Goldfield. It’s going to happen. This will be an open pit operation, not a hard rock mine.  This will bring some high paid jobs to the Goldfield/Tonopah area for at least several years. The pit may go down only three to five hundred feet according to one geologist I talked to.

People will notice fresh pavement and a realignment of I-95 just north of the city proper. That’s because the original mine owner paid tens of millions of dollars to Nevada to move the road! This better accommodates the mine’s plan of operations, the main pit to be extremely close to where old alignment was. There’s turbulence in the mining industry as always, I understand that ownership of the Gemfield Project has been sold three times since 2016. Gemfield Resources appears to be the current owner.

Perhaps to capture this new wave of construction, Valero in several months is opening a 24 hour travel plaza in Goldfield. That means Goldfield residents will finally have a gas station in town and a convenience store. Right now, the only source of food in Goldfield is the Dinky Diner restaurant, normal hours, and a General Store that is only open “sometimes” and has been for sale for at least two years. This travel plaza is significant because it will take big rigs, the next truck stop going south being at Armagosa Valley, 93 miles away.

I expect Goldfield to perhaps increase in residency between these two happenings but any new resident will still face a 5,500 foot altitude with temps in the low 20s in the winter, along with snow and the highway shutting down from time to time. Also, no medical services, with the only med clinic a half hour away in Tonopah. No area hospital, no emergency room. People are transported by vehicle to either Las Vegas or Reno for non-emergency problems, a true emergency requires a helicopter ride to whatever city will take them. That could be pricey. On the positive side, an improved water line is coming in as the result of the mine. This will make water more dependable in Goldfield.

Bryan Smalley at Hidden Treasures said that he recently had a very good month. William Vanderford at Vanderford’s Gold Strike, on the other hand, is rather desperate for money and has been having a terrible time getting by in this crisis. He only accepts cash because of credit card company minimum monthly fees and says no one traveling has cash or wants to spend it. There are no big banks in Goldfield and neither in Tonopah, although there is one small but true bank in Tonopah. I talked to a roadside vendor in Beatty and he says he loses 60% of his sales because he doesn’t take cash. Both are now thinking of using Square, that handheld card reader you see vendors at Rock Shows using. For now, for all of the Southwest, bring cash.

Sharon Artlip continues work on the Gemfield Gems Chalcedony Claims but is also helping renovate the International Car Forest of the Lost Church. This is an interesting and recent video on the Forest:

URL of the video is here: 

The creators mention a lack of trash at the site, this is something Sharon and company have been working on. They’ve also been repainting offensive graffiti when it appears as well as sprucing up the place in general.

Oh, the creators of the video, Cory and Honey, mentioned hitting a bathroom before visiting the Forest. The Forest does have a porta-potty, however, the city of Goldfield maintains public bathrooms at First Street and I-95 on the west side of town. I-95 serves as the main street running through town. The bathrooms are in the Goldfield Visitor Center parking lot, the Center itself open only when volunteers man it. The bathrooms always seem open during the day. I’m not sure about if they are open at night or if they were open during the pandemic. The bathrooms have running water and the parking lot easily takes RVs. See details at the end of this post.

Goldfield Art & Business Services

306 Crook Avenue
P.O. Box 121
Goldfield, NV 89013

37°42.560′ N 117°14.284′ W

Look for the “Gemfield Headquarters” sign at the top of this building. You can register to go out to the claims from here and you can also pay for whatever rocks you collected. A dollar a pound. Sharon Artlip has returned to this location and rocks from the claims are here along with old maps and documents and miscellany. As with everything in Goldfield, call to make sure they are open. Contact Goldfield’s Chamber of Commerce if necessary.

The Gemfield Gems Chalcedony Claims website is at the link below:

Hidden Treasures Trading Company
489 Bellevue Avenue
P.O. Box 512
Goldfield, NV 89013
775-485-3761 – Voice mail box is usually full

37°42.220′ N 117°14.066′ W

One of my many posts on Hidden Treasures:

Bryan Smalley runs one of the Southwest’s most eclectic rock and gift shops. He is expert on local rockhounding and accomplished at cutting and lapidary. He does knapping and can talk authoritatively on making flintlock strikers from locally collected chalcedony. It is sometimes difficult to find him at his shops, three buildings in total.

Ask locals where Bryan is if you can’t find him. Try the Dinky Diner. The friendly Goldfield citizens won’t mind your asking. Bryan has a minimal web presence since he focuses on finding rocks and cutting same. And making doors and entire buildings. Make sure to stop when investigating the Gemfield Gem claims. Tell him Tom said “Hi” and if you have a rock that needs cutting, ask him if he has the time. Oh, and buy something!

Bryan Polishing a Jade Piece from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Florence and Rustler #2 Mine Tours
Goldfield, NV

Call or text for information and reservations:

James Aurich: 702-622-0500
Jon Aurich: 702-622-1344

Guided surface and underground tours by appointment. The surface tour views head frames, hoist houses, the black shop and more. Great views of the surrounding country which are pockmarked with the craters of old mines. One mile from Goldfield on an easy dirt road. Private residence on site. Those with mobility issues should bring up their condition with the owners before visiting.

This page linked below contains photos and mine history. Information on the Florence exists in different places on the web, including

Vanderford’s Gold Strike
William D. Vanderford, Consulting Geologist

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 27
Goldfield, NV

Shop location:
Highway 95 on the west side of town.

Eclectic materials, well worth a stop. Rocks, mineral samples, more. Please bring cash, William is not accepting credit cards at this time. Some of his jewelry is rare and understandably expensive, he says many people walk away from a piece because they didn’t have enough cash. He stopped accepting plastic when the credit card companies started charging him extra for failing to meet a certain dollar level each month. These fees are murderous to small businesses and you will find that cash is still king all over the rural Southwest.

Old YouTube video but a good look at the store:

A single shot of Vanderford’s below:

The Dinky Diner
323 Crook Avenue
Goldfield, NV 89103

37°42.453′ N 117°13.946′ W


Your place to eat in Goldfield. Skip a meal in Beatty or Tonopah and eat instead in Goldfield. It will be worth it. Only place in town to eat but this business does not take advantage of that, they try very hard. Small-town life; strike up a conversation with the next table. They will fix anything to go if you don’t have time to dine.

The Dinky is right on I-95 in Goldfield, essentially Main Street. You may miss it coming in from the south. Turn around where convenient but watch your speed and where you turn as an Esmeralda County Sheriff is often waiting to catch speeders. Slow down!

A few years ago, I stopped into Goldfield to research that Rock&Gem article I wrote about earlier. The waitress asked me what I was doing in town. I said I was meeting Sharon Artlip to discuss her chalcedony claims. “Oh, yes,” the waitress said, “Sharon said you were coming in.”

I recommend the BLT for lunch and the cheeseburger for dinner. 

“My mom and I own this business and we are just trying to serve awesome food. With a good environment and great people. Hours are 8 am to 4 pm, every day except Sundays when we close at 2 pm. Hope to see you soon!” Karie L.

Public Bathrooms and Goldfield Visitor Center

Bathrooms are in the Visitor Center parking lot which can easily take large RVs and has trash barrels. Running water in the bathrooms. The Visitor Center itself is often closed, volunteer staffed.

37°42.561′ W 117°14.263′ N
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