The Oceanview and Pala Chief Mine in Pala, California

Click on photos TWICE to call up the largest image

The Ocean View Mine and the Pala Chief Mine
37304 Magee Rd, Pala, CA 92059
Jeff Swanger, Owner, Chief Operator, and Hero to Small Scale Miners
760-415-9143

http://www.oceanviewmine.com

$75 a person

Special instructions to reach the mine at their website and also discussed below.

Oceanview Mines, LLC offers two fee/dig experiences in the Pala Mining District. Commonly found are tourmalines, kunzites, and morganites, along with other sparkly things like pink lepidolite. The Pala area, a pegmatite mining district, has been actively worked for gemstones since the turn of the 19th century.

A screen and wash activity is held three times a week in season throughout much of the year. Online videos produced by Jeff Swanger and crew show the entire process. This easy-to-do activity will return attractive stones.

The second experience is held twice a month for part of the year. Bring your own tools. The Pala Chief fee/dig allows rockhounds to search through old tailings and mine dumps, along with hacking at the side of Chief Mountain itself. At some point the mine operator might work an excavator, digging a six-foot deep trench to bring up fresh dirt and rock for searching. Anything found can be kept.

Follow website directions with care. Their directions start in Pala and go east. First, get to Magee Road using Highway 76; the mine’s entrance road is a few miles from there. Only Magee’s south entrance from Highway 76 should be attempted. Do not take Magee Road if you are driving south from Temecula. In Pala there is a Magee Place that is not Magee Road. If Magee Road is not in one’s navigation device, try looking for the Pala Raceway. Magee Road is further east on 76.

If you have the time, locate Magee Road the day before so you won’t worry about finding it on the day of your dig. The countryside is beautiful and the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala itself is a Kodak moment. The California Mission chain is well known but their extension churches like this one are not. On this day before you can also try visiting The Collector or the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Museum.

The mine property road is rough but I saw a Mini Cooper negotiate its entire length. Staff will happily load people and gear into a buggy if a driver does not wish to drive the road. Bring sunscreen even if it is overcast, snacks, and tools if you are doing the Pala Chief. Full details at their website. Driest weather month may be May if you are planning a trip from across the country.

Resist taking too many photographs, instead, dive into digging or screening as long as you can and as hard as you can. You are going to find something wonderful. Oh, and if you can’t go, you can order a bag of pay dirt if they are still offering it. I found enough nice things in what they sent to convince me to go in person.

Magee Road and Highway 76 coordinates:
33°21.830′ N 117°03.440′ W

Google map link to Magee Road and Highway 76:
https://goo.gl/maps/hxKNCWGxSzdK1Kxv9

http://www.oceanviewmine.com

For further adventures, read my file on Places to Collect and Visit in the Southwest:

SW_Places_To_Visit_Or_Collect_5_

I am ashamed that I took vertical video but here it is.

Pala Chief Mine in Early March, 2019 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Version Five of Southwest Places to Visit and Collect is Out

I’ve made a substantial revision to Version 4. The interactive table of contents continues to be built out. More clubs, more Google Map links to make for easier driving. Discard all previous versions.

1. The Acrobat .pdf file is essentially bulletproof. Great for printing and desktop work. Download here:

SW_Places_To_Visit_Or_Collect_05_

 

 

 

2. The Kinndle .mobi file is for mobile use. Anyone with a Kindle app or reader on their phone or tablet _should_ be able to use it when downloaded from here but I can’t guarantee it.

SW Places To Visit Or Collect 05 – Tom Farley

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Version 3 is Out!

Version 3 of my Places to Visit and Collect in the Southwest is out, emphasizing central New Mexico. I update information on the Trinity Site at the White Sands National Monument, Blanchard’s Rock shop in Bingham, and the mineral museum in Socorro. Clickable links in the document to photo galleries at my Patreon site.

You can download the file by clicking here:

Southwest_Places_To_Visit_Or_Collect_03
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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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Rock Related Places to Visit and Collect in The Southwest

This 1.4 meg .pdf contains descriptions and locations of rock shops, fee/digs, BLM and USFS district offices, museums, traditional collecting areas, and many more rock related places in the United Southwest.

Seventy pages from my book. Already in its second revision. Discard previous files and keep checking back for the current file.

Please distribute freely but make sure to send in corrections and additions. Thanks!

Southwest_Places_To_Visit_Or_Collect_02

 

 

 


On Cats and Collecting


A single cat always accompanies professional geologist RC on his travels and collecting. It ranges free while he works. I’ve bought dozens of well labeled teaching specimens from him in building my reference collection. On my own initiative, I’ve removed locality names.

RC with Geological Specimen Supply

T Cat goes out in the field. The Sparkletts box under him is a composite. I get egg boxes from the market, cut them horizontally in two, jam the top half down over the bottom half and glue them together, so double-walled but half as high. Eight inches high, one foot square. Then, to keep the flaps down, I get Sparkletts water boxes and cut them in two horizontally as well, but glue the top flaps to a piece of cardboard inside, making a solid top. These are a hair bigger than the egg boxes but not as tall. Half of one works as a lid, pushed down over the egg box. There’s one of these under T Cat. Each one is filled with strips of The Wall Street Journal, though any fish wrap will work. The Journal comes every day in the mail, Monday’s paper on Monday.

Every piece of rock gets wrapped up. The paper gets reused. These boxes are strong, will hold about 50 student specimens, and two will fit on my pack frame. Depending on what’s in them, I may or may not be able to get up!

The Idaho Spuds Box is full of giant oyster fossils, about a foot long. Still not unpacked! I didn’t take enough field boxes on that trip.

T Cat comes to a bell, so when I’m ready to leave, he’s in the van. He was waiting for me to finish packing. T stands for Tyrannosaurus. He was the biggest of the bunch, twice as big as the smallest. Born in a basket beside me Memorial Day last year.

I have a 7 pound and a 10 pound sledge in the van, a pick, shovel (more for roads than for rocks) a couple of Estwing geologists’ hand sledges and a couple of Estwing 12 ounce rock hammers. These have chisel heads and are easy to trim with. Estwing stopped making them, but now make a brick layer’s hammer that’s the same.

I don’t want to have to lug rocks very far for those I sell. I can tie a couple of field boxes onto a pack frame, but I want whatever I’m collecting to be close to the van.

Different story when I’m looking for something for my collection, since weight isn’t going to be much. A couple of hours of hiking results in the the best exposure of Ordovician brachiopods in the Great Basin. A couple of hours hiking gets you to the fossils. One year I was up there with a geologist friend and a student. After a long day with our noses in a shale talus slope, picking out pencil eraser sized brachs, we had hiked about half way back when my student said he had forgotten the rock hammer back at the rock pile. I had five, and I sure wasn’t going to hike back for one, all uphill!

One hammer wasn’t a big loss.

The next year I went back. Going up the talus on hands and knees, I put my hand on the missing hammer. Rusty, but it wore off. I’ve lost hammers, but that’s the first time I found one. Only time.

I don’t like the west side of the Sierra Nevada. Too much vegetation, so it’s hard to see the rocks. And then, poison oak, ugh. When I can collect in roadcuts, I do. Phyllite and serpentine, both from roadcuts in the American River Canyon near Auburn. In the coast ranges, I get graywacke from a roadcut. The rocks are more likely to be fresh where a road was cut through. Hopefully a road without much traffic!

Some rocks have to be collected from a dry stream channel to be unweathered. Tumbling down the stream removes the weathered stuff. I find the white anorthosite in the river bed of the Santa Clara River. Took me forever to find a way to drive down into it, but eventually did. In all of the roadcuts I looked at, it was weathered all the way to China, and besides, in the San Gabriel Mountains, you have to buy a pass to even park at the side of the road, so I stay away.

https://geologicalspecimensupply.com/

T-cat is indeed an orange tabby. He rode down with me to Ridgecrest tonight, and took up the same position on the boxes, though leaning on my shoulder. Helped me with a Jumbo Jack at Ridgecrest.

His mom was a tabby, became a meal for a coyote, unfortunately. She had already used up eight lives, out collecting with me near Lompoc, ran across the road to the van at just the wrong moment. Going full tilt, she hit the outside of the front tire of a speeding car, was slammed to the road and then bounced into the air, screaming. Landed, writhing, on the pavement. I thought that was the end of her, but I could see nothing broken and not a drop of blood, only a pink ear. Tail was still attached. I gently picked her up and put her in the van. She tried to climb onto the back seat but needed a hand up. Spent the rest of the day on a pillow, was better the next day, and came back to life the day after. Lucky. One second faster and she would have been under that tire, and flat. After that, she had a low reserve of extra lives, I would say. Went out one evening and disappeared. Coyotes ate two of neighbor’s daughter’s cats also, so he shot two coyotes and they have stayed away, recently.

Brother, Ralph, dark tabby, eats anything and everything. Brought in a rabbit this morning and thought it was ok to eat it on a Navajo rug. Caught that in time, so he had his snack on a towel and didn’t complain about the move. Ate all but the back legs, started with the head and ate all of it, amazingly, leaving nothing. Rabbit was half his size. Second time he’s done this, and he has made some plants in the yard grateful, as the rabbits have lost interest in them. Sister, Cucumber, snacked on the back legs. A calico tabby – tabby markings but with some orange in her fur. Cool as a cucumber riding in the van, sits on the back of my seat with her front legs over my shoulder and looks out the front window, purring in my ear. Here she is at the Gold Nugget Mine, east of Quartzsite, where I was collecting milky quartz. Not as easy to keep track of when she’s out running around, she comes to the bell. All three do, actually. When T-Cat is out exploring, he really stands out.

Cats are smarter than dogs. All Pavlov could do was to get his dogs to drool when they heard a bell. These cats come to the bell and jump in the van when they hear it, if I’m outside. Their reward is a tube of Churu.

RC

https://geologicalspecimensupply.com/

T-Cat in the field



Cucumber at a mine

https://geologicalspecimensupply.com/

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Back To The Nopah Range

Back to the Nopah Range. I was at Emigrant Pass on the Old Spanish Trail in Inyo County, California. Flew my drone for the first time in two years. Forgot the controls. Soft crash landing. Military controlled air space? It might be due to China Lake in Riverside County. That’s a Naval Air Station. But at least fity miles away. I spent some time later trying to read this map:

I thought land maps were complicated! Here are two versions of my doomed flight.

The first is video that Dji did automatically with their online editing footage. They added sound as well. Which means they probably compressed the file and then Youtube compressed it some more.

The second video is the original raw footage, looking dark on a dreary day.

Both videos are pixelated but the original shows well on my monitor. I bought some video editing software yesterday to see how it might lighten the darkness in the film. Some other stills from the North Nopah WA also below.

Watch for NOTAMs. Notice to Airmen. Real pilots and us drone operators.

A thin granite marker from the early 1920’s stands watch over the Old Spanish Trail in the background, now paved and not marked by the ruts of wagon wheels.

Broken yet intact. Why I don’t have to find gemstones or gold to love rockhounding. As my geologist friend RC said, “This is where sand comes from!”

Thought this was chert but it is not. More like deeply stained shale. Leached out from the soil mound uphill. Two hundred yards from here is shale in road cuts which yield partial trilobite specimens. That shale cleaves into shingle like pieces with a brick hammer. The stuff here simply falls apart into powder.

Just because it is black and craggy doesn’t mean that it is volcanic. These mountains fooled me when I first came here. These are actually limestone boulders, the entire area is made up of marine rocks. Check Macrostrat.org for the geology in any given area. Here’s a screenshot from their app.

How do you know if something is igneous? Generally, nothing igneous or volcanic will react to a bit of acid. Unless the rock has calcite encrusted on it. Which is everywhere in the southwest. Test different parts of a rock to be sure. Never approach a geologist with an ID question if you haven’t done an acid test. That’s the first test they will expect you to have done.

Here’s a photo of some acid bottles I made up for field work. 10% hydrochloric acid although you can use toilet bowl cleaning fluid in a pinch if it has HCI. That will probably be blue and not clear. A dropper bottle contained inside another bottle is a great way to carry an acid bottle anywhere.

Here’s the overall collecting area. This is about twenty minutes from Tecopa, California which has a must stop, the China Ranch Date Farm. They let you wander through their commercial palm tree orchard. And they serve date shakes. Really. Be prepared to wait in line for those.

You have arrived at the ranch.

And a view of the ranch in the distance. Most vehicles will have no problem with this road.

 
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The Kokoweef Cavern/Mine Complex

A fee dig today with the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Club to the Kokoweef Cavern Mine in the Mojave Desert.

Just a few photos now, more later. Much to write on. Travertine, onyx, and wonderful calcite cave popcorn, a stalactite which shows outstanding cleavage. eBay has specimens like the one pictured below made into cabs. Again, more later.

Members examining what to look for. The operator is donating this material to a school program.

 

A closer look at the material.

The tailing pile is steep and rocky but provides outstanding examples of this bubbly looking stalactite formation, much still clinging to its limestone host.

Some popcorn from the front.

And the same piece from the back, possibly cleaved when the cavern roof fell.

Well established buildings out of view, the result of former commercial zinc mining. This is not public land. This is private property as the result of a once patented mining claim.

The road in. Desert driving. At one fork a sign points to the right for the Kokoweef. Instead, one goes left.

Steven Bisyak documents everything about the area’s history and will gladly discuss same. I am trying to find a magazine article he referred to, “Uncharted Caverns of The Desert by Phillip Johnston.”

Steven Bisyak explaining the history of the cavern and the mine and his attempt to document its history.

Nice UV reaction on calcite under shortwave. The darker rock is limestone.

Visible light of same rock.

Faced with a bad stretch of road, a Jeep owner admitted to me that he didn’t have skid plates. This was my reaction.

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An Apology Regarding My Book

As a professional writer I am embarrassed to write this. I do not give excuses about my work. I communicate and cooperate with my editors, I beat word count, and I always meet my deadlines. Always. I keep my word.

However.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the release date for my book is now September, 2020. I apologize to everyone to whom I promised a release date of early 2020.

In the upcoming months, please send me any updates on your mine, claim, business, or activity. I’ll incorporate these changes into upcoming revisions with my editor.

Again, I apologize for this major change that was only revealed to me today, weeks after I submitted my MS before deadline and under word count.

I could not have anticipated this and I regret that the good publicity that could have come to you sooner will now be more than a year away.

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