August 27, 2023 - Pahrump to Barstow

August 27, 2023 - Pahrump to Barstow

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.

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The Twenty Mule Teams started here! #borax#deathvalley#tecopa#mules#mining#roadtrip#geology#inyocounty#history

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Some still photos of the area of the Amargosa Borax Works’ site near Tecopa, CA. This is where the 20 Mule Teams loaded up for their one hundred mile trip to Dagget. As the sign says, there was another deposit of borate minerals in Death Valley itself. Look for the video I did of this place earlier in the day. #tecopa#shoshone#inyocountytourism #geology#mining#mojavedesert #mojave#mules

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Dumont Dunes OHV recreation area. Sand dunes. #desert#mojave#ohv#sandunes#desert#roadtrip#geology

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Baker, CA. Highway town. One way to get to Death Valley. NOTE: Hotel may be out of business! deathvalley#bakercalifornia #roadtrip#freewayattractions #roadtrip

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Your Ibex Pass footage for the day, complete with truck. You’re welcome. 2,072 feet. The Pass marks a border point between Inyo and San Bernardino County. Death Valley Park nearby. #inyocounty#roadtrip#mojavedesert #desert#shoshone#tecopa

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Our Man in St. David, Arizona

Rolf Luetcke reports,

Hi Tom,

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.

Take care


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

Richardson’s Rock Ranch in Madras, Oregon and the Lucky Strike near Prineville

My good friend Pat Dolan supplies these wonderful photos of rocks he once collected at Richardson’s Rock Ranch, now closed to digging.

Richardson Rock Ranch in central Oregon was long noted for their thunderegg fee-dig on the Priday agate beds. That activity has now ceased, the fee-digs permanently closed by the ranch as of last month. This is perhaps the sunset to fee digging for thundereggs in America, since the Baker Egg Mine in New Mexico has been filled in for some time.

Update: Pat supplies this: Hi, Tom. There is one other pay to dig site up there in Oregon. The Lucky Strike Mine. It’s way smaller than Richardson Ranch. And much more difficult to get thundereggs. This is from their Facebook page:

“The Lucky Strike mine will be open to the end of September. We will be open Thursday - Sunday. Thursday’s 9am-4pm Friday and Saturday 8am-4pm Sunday 8am-2pm. This is the last year we will be open to the public.”

They are located “outside of Prineville, Oregon.” That would be in Crook County. Here’s the map Google that Google provides. I would triple check my directions and call first before going. The good news is that the mine is located within the Ochoco National Forest so you should be able to order that map and get fine driving details.


Original Post: Back to Richardson’s

Richardson’s continues to operate their rock store, however, with material they dig from their beds.

I don’t know why they shut down their fee digs, however, it may be due to liability insurance being too expensive or perhaps a lack of personnel to supervise the operation. Both understandable reasons.

Some closed fee-digs may continue operating through rock club field trips. A club usually carries its own liability insurance so operators are more likely to open for them on a case by case basis. Last year the Ottesons of Tonopah, Nevada conducted fee digs for turquoise and variscite for both the Southern Utah Rock Club and the Las Vegas Gem and Mineral Society. Even though they were not operating public fee digs.

Pat Dolan said the Madras Rockhound Pow Wow has dug at the Ranch before. But that group has no outing planned anywhere until September, and that for agates a good distance from the Ranch. Pat also mentioned the Prineville Rockhound Pow Wow in Crook County, Oregon but their 2020 event has also been cancelled. Truly, this is a year of do it yourself field trips.

Here’s information on the Richardson’s Rock Ranch

Richardson Agate Co. LLC
6683 NE Hay Creek Rd
Madras, OR 97741
Phone: 541-475-2680
Fax: 541-475-4299
After hours emergency or text:
[email protected]

N 44 43.956
W 120 58.564
Elevation 1,845

“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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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

[email protected]

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.

[email protected]

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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Video of the Gemfield Gems Chalcedony Claim

The Gemfield Gems Chalcedony Claim north of Goldfield, Nevada. Multicolored rocks and possibly antelope. Certainly wild burro.

Official site:

Gemfield Gems Chalcedony Claim from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.
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