Long day but I found a number of interesting places to explore or hound on my trip. Real work will begin when temperatures fall into the 90s or below. Today, at least on the stretch between Baker and Shoshone driving home, temps were 103 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
The next time I travel the desert I will take plastic tubs to fill with water for desperate wildlife. I stopped at one place along the road and a bedraggled bird appeared from nowhere. It went straight under my truck, I thought for shade, but it was clearly wanting water. I left some in a small reservoir I fashioned from a plastic bag.
I’ll take more water for other people, too, not just myself. I noticed a big rig idling at a turnout with its emergency triangles in place. A breakdown. The driver had the engine running and the air conditioning must have been going. I approached. The driver said she was fine but eagerly accepted the bottle of cold water I offered her. Even with air conditioning, it is very uncomfortable to be thirsty in the desert. Very. At another time, I was walking back to my vehicle after doing some photography. A California Highway Patrolman slowed down to ask if I was OK. I said I was fine, thanked him, and waved him on.
With these kind of temps, and rural driving in general, I like to wave at every vehicle. If you’re not the friendly type, get friendly for remote places. This will help you and others, we all need to watch out for each other.
317 total miles.
These are just some of the things I saw. The highlight of the trip was talking to Don DePue of Diamond Pacific Tool in Barstow. We met outside after I got the three gallons of rock saw oil I had ordered a few days before.
Shame about the thefts and destruction at that location, it is a sad part of todays’ time, well, not just today but it went on here in the area also. What happened here was years ago one of the Treasure Magazines had an article about the old ghost towns that the people had lived in. They talked about a lot of the people who lived in the adobe places and wooden ones too, would hide things in the walls, gold coins, jewelry and more. So, guess what, the people who read that article went to any ghost towns they could access and started knocking down the walls, looking for the possible stash. The one place I remember a lot of old adobe buildings was Gleeson not too far from us. I went there back in the 70’s, when I moved to Bisbee and there were a lot of old adobe buildings there.
A number of years later, all the buildings were down. At first I thought it was just weathering and then I talked to someone who told me that the “treasure” hunters had come in and knocked the walls down with their 4 wheel drive vehicles, looking for those stashes in the walls. That one article sure ruined a lot of old buildings that were really historic.
I saw that in other places too, too many were just destroyed for what probably was not there at all. One gal in Bisbee, an older Mexican lady that lived up the street from my house there, she used to live in a smaller house near the Mexican border, still in the US and she told me that her mom had that house. She also said her mom had told her that she had burried a bag of gold coins under that house. I said she should go down and find it. She said she was not going to go looking. Now what is wrong with that picture. I know that nobody who actually had a story that was true would not go looking for a bag of gold coins. So, I knew it was just a made up story.
So many of the old treasure stories were just that, made up. I had talked to a fellow who was an old prospector that used to come in our shop. He said a lot of the old prospectors in the old West would run out of money and they would sit in the bars and tell tales of gold to anyone who would listen and buy them drinks. Of course those were made up stories, like the Lost Dutchman and they abounded. For drinks I wonder how many of those were told. Mary has a sister who’s husband had bought into a couple of those stories. He had one about a “gold vein” that was in the Whetstone Mountains near us. The story went that an old prospector back in the old west was walking from Tucson to Tombstone and ran out of water while crossing the Whetstones. He said that he was so thirsty that when he found a quartz vein loaded with gold he was too thirsty to do anything but get to the San Pedro River for water. Then he never could find it again. The brother in law was always over there looking for it.
Now it never did anything for me because the rock type over there was just wrong for gold.
As for the Geyserite. When I found the American Mine in Cochise County, only a few miles north of us, it had only one photo on mindat and that was Geyserite!! Mary and I went out there often to collect and I never saw anything that resembled geyserite I knew about. I knew it formed in a few different ways and one was vents of hot fluids coming from below. Just not the right area over at the American Mine. All the times we went over there and one trip Mary found some jasperoid material that was pink. Different than any of the rock on the dumps. She tossed it in the collecting bag. At home I looked under the microscope and in the jasperoid stuff were hollows and when I got those under the magnification I saw the Geyserite. It had formed in the jasper material at the edge of the ore body that also formed from solutions that came in from below. The jasperoid was the ore control body in the ground and since it is a hard material because of the quartz in it, the mining didn’t need to remove any of it to get the ore out so very little of that material ever got above ground to the dumps except that piece Mary found. The explination of the jasperoid ore control in the ground told me where the geyserite had been. We did get one and in those vesicles in the jasper material were the deposited opal that often is in the geyserite. So, we finally did get some.
I add the photo here.
Again, shame about the messing with the mine equipment and stealing it. Happens too often these days.
This is that jasperoid material Mary found, 5x4cm and those small holes are where the geyserite was.
Here is a close up of the vesicles in the jasper material, you can see the rough quartz that formed and the opal that also deposited.
This is a picture of the geyserite I got yesterday. I have yet to scope it.
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.
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!”
Richard Ranch Blue Bed
Richard Ranch Blue Bed
Richard Ranch Blue Bed — more plume
Richard Ranch Moss bed
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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:
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.
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:
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!
— Florence and Rustler #2 Mine Tours
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 Mindat.org.
Vanderford’s Gold Strike
William D. Vanderford, Consulting Geologist
P.O. Box 27
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.
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.
I have heard of this shop but I think I got it scrambled with Dials Rock shop, which I’ve covered, and a man named Dahl, who came up with the Pet Rock. In any case, I am looking forward to visiting this rock shop which also sells crystals and beads.
Dah Rock Shop
3401 N Dodge Blvd
Tucson, Arizona 85716
My good friend Linda Dodge has gone ’round the rock garden to take pictures of rocks and description signs I missed. She has also taken better pictures in many cases of rocks I had already photographed. 78 photos in total, of which I suspect at least twenty will be posted here. Time to start processing. Captions will take a long time to do.
Parking is expensive at U.C. Davis during the weekdays ($10!?) but you can use that parking pass all over campus. Have a picnic in the Shields Oak Grove where I volunteered for many years. All of the arboretum is first class.
They have a fine equestrian center and if you are quiet and not too suspicious looking, you can walk through the stables and consider whether you really want to own a Percheron.
Most campus buildings are probably closed to the public, but when they reopen there are a variety of places to eat. You don’t need to be staff or a student to eat at most of them.
There’s a science library, a law library, and a main library.
If you have a bicycle you will fit right in.
My friend the practicing geologist confirms that I indeed found leucogranite with altered garnet in the Utah Hill area and that it is suitable for study use. I go back to the area this week to look for a pegmatite pocket. Follow me on Instagram, that’s where I report on my field trips.
Since I finished what I could of my travel book series, I am now turning to other things. My back has to heal up better and I probably should spend more time indoors to help that along.
I’m now spending quite a bit of time contributing by better photos to Wikimedia, the photo repository for Wikimedia. I am placing all of these photos in the public domain, with no restrictions on their use or any need to credit me. I could explain why but that would take several more paragraphs to describe. You can go over to my writing site if you want to know more.
One has to register with Wikimedia first, upload and describe a photo according to their requirements, and then place a link to it at an appropriate Wikipedia page. I thought the dashboards and the interface the two groups used were too intimidating but it’s not that difficult once you go through it. Just takes time.
I saw there were no photos at Wikipedia on the Nopah Range in Inyo County. None taken while in that range at least, just two photos from the valley floor. I added a photo gallery of some of my pictures to this page:
Update! Wikipedia does not want to be an image gallery. An editor kindly told me this and we are going to rework that page. Only a few photos should show at a Wikipedia entry, the rest can sit quietly at Wikipedia Commons to be used in other articles and to be searchable as a whole.
Back to my original post:
It took most of this morning to get my Nopah photos up but they are now permanently posted at Wikimedia Commons where they await somebody 12 years from now to do a report. Many photos I am going to post have been seen here but not organized, not full sized, and not with a copyright release.
Seeing no photos of a wild Red Rock Canyon desert tortoise, I added my four tortoise photos to this page:
Update (again) That entry above has been changed. The emphasis on Wikipedia is not to create image galleries. I am learning this as I go and I remain very positive about contributing to Wikipedia and Wikipedia Commons. Be prepared, however, to have an editor watching your work and correcting it. That’s only fair, every writer needs an editor.
Back to the original article:
I’d encourage you, too, to build up what’s called the inverted pyramid of knowledge. With Wikipedia and Wikimedia, everyone can.
The Arizona and New Mexico chapters of my now halted book project is out. Places to go, things to do, stuff to pick off the ground. If anything is open these days, Still, plenty of open USFS and BLM managed ground to run around in.
The first two new chapters are at my SW Travel Page, which also has more abbreviated documents covering the entire Southwest.