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.”

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Local-Business/Lucky-Strike-Mines-1142109869241670/

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
800-433-2680
Fax: 541-475-4299
After hours emergency or text:
541-633-3889
richardsonrockranch@hotmail.com

GPS
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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Joe’s Rock Shop in Orderville, Utah

Text from my Places to Visit and Collect in the Southwest file

Joe’s Rock Shop
425 E 100 N or HWY 89@100 N
P.O. Box 116
Orderville, UT 84758
435-648-2737

37°16.671′ N 112°37.818′ W

https://www.facebook.com/joesrockshoputah/

Joes Rock Shop has been family run since at least 1952. It specializes in digging, cutting, and polishing septarian nodules, petrified wood and more. Rough and finished stones of all types. Custom rock cutting done. Located in Kane County whose county seat is Kanab.

Septarian nodules are limestone rocks filled with calcite and aragonite. Decorative patterns are revealed when cut open. Some show crystals from the outside. Orderville is the most famous locality for these uncommon stones. The owners provide local rockhounding directions when asked. They also ship by mail and are closed in the winter. A rock yard and eccentric oddities sold in the store itself.

A “glamping” campground with Yurts was operating across US-89 from Joe’s Rock Shop when I visited in the fall of 2019. This area is picturesque and somewhat close to Zion, now charging thirty dollars to drive through. At least three other rock shops are along Highway 89 in Orderville. Maynard Dixon’s summer home and a museum to him is further down the road in Mt. Carmel. If you don’t know who Maynard Dixon is, I weep for you.

Update: June 1, 2020. Judging by their Facebook Page, Joe’s is fully operational. You should go. Now. Pretty country. Dixie National Forest nearby with camping and some interesting road cuts. 

My purchases. The one in the background has been polished on three sides and also left naturally open to display its crystals. The second is unpolished broken rough. Mild cream colored response to SW UV.



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Rock-A-Buy: Rocks and Gifts in Duncan, Arizona

Update: I posted a link to this article at the Rock Connection on Facebook. It was pulled by the admins, all of them, as it was linking to a commercial site. “It’s in the rules. Read them.” People like Doug Barlow deserve the support of the entire rock and gem community because he supports them.

I don’t get any money for promoting him and he is totally unaware that I am posting about him. Rules are good to prevent chaotic behavior but I see nothing in this post to be alarmed about. My response from rockhounds on rock shop posts is 100% positive. The admins left up my post about Jim Gray’s Company, a much bigger outfit. Nothing makes sense from these admins and I have quit the group.

This is from my travel list:

Rock-A-Buy: Rocks and Gifts
809 SE Old West Highway
Duncan, AZ 85534
928-215-1641

32°42.791′ N 109°05.921′ W

http://www.rockabuyrocksandgifts.com/

Doug Barlow is the affable owner of this east-central Arizona rock shop in Greenlee County. Fire agate is the big draw in this area and Doug will show you samples of what to look for. He will even provide a map of promising locations for anyone who comes into his shop and signs his guest book.

BLM’s Round Mountain Rockhound Area is close and Doug has advice for anyone heading out. Ask, too, about Black Hills, another BLM rockhounding area. Call to make certain Barlow’s shop will be open when you visit. He’s a great guy. He gave me a piece of calcite he had named the “The Volcano.” Gifted it, mind you. It glows beautifully under short wave. I treasure that piece.




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Version 9 of the Southwest Travel List is Out!

My latest list of Places to Visit and Collect in the Southwest is the best ever.  This post may say Version 9 but I have since done Revision 10.

https://southwestrockhounding.com/sw-travel-list/

Or get it here:

Version 10, November 6,  2019

This page always has the latest version of my Places to Visit and Collect in the Southwest. (And beyond!)

.pdf (Printing and desktop work)

Version 10 , November 6, 2019

SW_Places_To_Visit_Or_Collect_10A_

 

 

 

.mobi (Kindle format for mobile devices):

Version 10, November 6, 2019 

SW Places To Visit Or Collect 10 – Tom Farley


 

 

 

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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

 

 

 


Mineral Mystery Musings by Rolf Luetcke

Hi Tom,

There are things out there that certainly are mysteries. I have quite a few in my past that were interesting.

One was a fellow on Mindat.org who found me by way of that site. He was from Tucson and messaged me about something he found deep in the mountains of SE Arizona. He was not a mineral guy but found a vein of quartz that had a silver material all over it and he was convinced it was a new metallic deposit he had discovered while bird watching. He sent me a piece and as soon as I saw it I knew it was not a natural material. I emailed him back and said I thought it was something man made. He just couldn’t believe it since it was “in the middle of nowhere” as he said. I told him to take it to the University of Arizona Mineral Museum. I told him I thought it was some kind of stuff painted on the rocks since it was only on the outside and didn’t go into the quartz where he broke it.

He took it to the University and they were also intrigued and said they would test it. He wrote me back a week later and said he got the results and it was aluminum paint. He was certain he had found a new mineral deposit but someone had actually painted some rocks in the middle of nowhere.

Another one was a fellow we met at the shop had been in the same area of old mines and he was a mineral collector, although not a very knowledgeable one. He posted on Mindat that he thought he found Millerite in the Patagonia area. He had not contacted me until after he had posted the material. I told him that was not possible because there was no chemistry in S Arizona to support that. Another friend had been with him and he gave me a piece of the same ore and as soon as I looked under the microscope I saw it was Stibnite, a mineral that was supported by the chemistry. They did find that Stibnite in an area Mindat did not list for that mineral’s locality, so that information has been added to Mindat. It was not the Millerite he hoped it was.

Dreams die hard. Mary told me many years ago when I found a new thing at a local mine and thought it might be some rare species, she said it is probably a much more common species but in a form I had not seen. She is usually right in pretty much all these cases and I learned a valuable lesson. I passed that onto the friend who gave me the Stibnite and he now thinks that his material was probably a more common mineral.

Got a bunch of those stories over nearly 48 years of mineral collecting.  Having worked with minerals now for so long I have gotten pretty good at identification but I do need to use a microscope to be sure.

Will be interesting to figure out what that “weird stuff” turns out to be you found in that field. Seems rock related and not necessarily mineral related and that is often harder to get figured out than a mineral.

Have a great day.

Rolf

NB: Rolf is a longtime mineral collector and rock shop owner in Southern Nevada. Read about his must stop shop here.

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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