Mineral and Rock Collector’s Guide to the Denver Mineral Show 2017

During the month of September the city of Denver Colorado hosts a group of shows where depending on your interest, you can find amazing things to see and buy!

Denver BroncoThe show is like other popular regional shows in that it started as a club event that got so big that “satellite” shows would pop up, which then spawns the tent cities and specialty shows that cities like Denver and Tucson experience. Being a rather large city, Denver had several clubs that hosted shows around the city at different times of the year. While they still do, in 1967 several clubs joined forces to produce one general event, featuring club cases, dealers from around the states and programs. This is the centerpiece of the Denver mineral shows. This show happens on the 2nd or 3rd weekend of September and this highly attended 3 day event is what ends a now week plus group of shows around the city.

So, if you are a first time visitor to the Denver Mineral Shows, or a seasoned pro, this year is going to feature some big changes to the classic show from a few short years ago.

​Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show 2017Starting out, the biggest change in show locations is the major move from the CLASSIC Martin Zinn Expos production at the Ramada, just a couple miles from the big club show. As collectors started coming to the Denver club show earlier and earlier, the Ramada was used to give an early showcase to some dealers for over 30 years. Now that the Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show has matured into a powerhouse, it is strong enough to move to another location, which is the Crowne Plaza, located near the Denver Airport.

This show has the classic mix you would expect from the Ramada show, everything under the sun you could want, some of the most interesting wares, several wholesale vendors, this show is a must visit. With over 170 vendors, this show has something for everybody and with the new ballroom style, it is not as claustrophobic as it might have been in the hotel rooms of the old Ramada.

Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show

Visit them at RockyGems Presents the Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show There are 1000 parking spaces and free admission.

Denver Coliseum

The place with the most diverse mixture of minerals, fossils, gems and beads is the Denver Coliseum shows, which include the arena area of the Coliseum, hosting a variety of dealers selling rocks from $1 to thousands, plenty of great deals on polished rocks, slabs, fossils, cabochons, jewelry, mineral specimens and more – upstairs you have dealers circling the hallways, a perfect place to visit for families and all ages. Lots of great displays to take pictures with, plus, for serious buyers, a giant tent area filled with dealers of bulk minerals and fossils, some HUGE in size!

Denver Coliseum Show

 Denver Coliseum Mineral, Fossil & Gem Show

Tons of free parking, plus the show is now spilling out the side into the National Western Complex, located right next to the Coliseum, with shows on all three levels. The “third” floor, which is actually the second floor from the street level of the complex, features the new Denver Mineral Show, featuring some great mineral dealers, a few select fossils and several dealers who dig what they sell. Find out more about this show on the Coliseum Show website This show runs from the 9th until the 17th, from 10am-6pm every day – you’ll notice the billboards featuring the show all over the city. Free admission and free parking for all the shows at this central location.

Denver Mineral Show

Arena level that features mostly mineral and fossil dealers. Vendors Set Up Outside in Tents at Denver Coliseum Mineral, Fossil & Gem Show

While the Ramada is now no longer a mineral show, the Quality Inn, across the street is still going strong. There are plenty of raw rock and jewelry dealers to be found here and plenty of metaphysical dealers. That show runs from the 9th til the 17th with free parking, hopefully more plentiful now that it does not compete with the Ramada visitors.

Denver Fine Mineral ShowFor serious mineral fans the Denver Fine Mineral Show at the Denver Marriott West, near Golden. The show starts on Sept 13th and is over on the 16th, overlaping slightly with the main show, a bit of a change from the previous years of having the show a week before the main show. This show features a who’s who of fine mineral dealers. You can find beautiful well crystallized minerals in a natural rainbow as well as the periodicals and magazine publishers covering these types of dealings. It is a real thrill to see all the minerals at this show and there is something to take home, no matter your budget (but, a big budget doesn’t hurt!) You can find out more on the website for the FineMineralShows The show is free, the parking is free, not a great place for browsing families, more like a selection of museum items you could buy.

 Denver Gem & Mineral Show

It all ends up with the “Main Show”, the Original Denver Mineral Show at the Merchandise Mart. This show features amazing display cases, educational displays, kids activities and an amazing array of mineral and gem dealers, all of them showcasing wares they have been saving for this great event. Free public talks are given all day and you’ll be lost in a sea of rocks and minerals you’ll want to take home. This show is paid admission, $7 for adults, $15 for a 3 day pass. Parking is free.

Mr. Bones at the Denver Club Show Amazonite and Smokey Quartz Display at the Denver Club Show

What do you want?

Tim Dorris from the Prospectors TV Show in his family’s room at the Colorado Minerals & Fossil Show

Meet dealers you buy minerals from online? – Denver Coliseum, Denver Mineral Show at the National Western Complex, Crown Plaza, Denver Fine Mineral Show and the Main Club Show

Find Rough Minerals? – Denver Coliseum, Quality Inn, Crown Plaza, Main Club Show

Find Jewelry? – Denver Coliseum, Quality Inn, Crown Plaza, the JG&M show Main Club Show.

Find Fossils? – Denver Coliseum, Crown Plaza, Main Club Show

Find Mineral Specimens? – Denver Coliseum, Denver Mineral Show @ National Western Complex, Crown Plaza, Denver Fine Mineral Show, Main Club Show

Kids Activities At the Denver Gem & Mineral Show (Club Show)

Kids Activities At the Denver Gem & Mineral Show (Club Show)

Find Wholesale Deals? – Denver Coliseum, Crown Plaza, Wholesale Show at Collector’s Edge

Kid’s Activities and Exhibits? – Denver Coliseum, Main Club Show

Free Parking? All of the shows

So, visit Denver and be immersed in a world of minerals and rocks from around the world. You’ll be able to meet fascinating people and buy things from them! You’ll find books, knowledge, special specimens, people who mine what they sell, jewelry making equipment and at least one person selling EXACTLY what you are looking for!

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The collection of Southern Califonia Collector – Kay Robertson, and how to own a piece of hers for your very own

As someone who has always enjoyed talking with Kay Robertson during the annual Culver City Mineral Shows, and at the now revenued Santa Ana show, it is wonderful to know that two great dealers, The Arkenstone and MineralMan999 will be handling the amazing collection – Check out this alert to this chance to own a specimen from this very special woman.

PRESS RELEASE –

We are very proud and HONORED to announce our largest Collection Acquisition to date, and maybe ever!
We have just reached a deal to share with you the personal collection of Kay Robertson – a literal “treasure trove” of specimens, many of which were not seen by but a few other collectors for 50 years!
We just listed the first group of auctions here: http://bit.ly/mineralman
Kay Robertson built an amazingly diverse collection over nearly 90 years of collecting, from a time when so much was available on the mineral market that is simply gone now. The breadth and depth of her collection is hard to equal, almost impossible going forward. She had long planned to donate her collection, but has now decided to sell it and share her life’s passion with the world of collectors in a special deal structured to let us offer most of the pieces for sale at auction, so different from how the important collections are normally dispersed quietly and under the table by the big dealers. Her attitude is that, if it must sell, to share it with the largest number of collectors possible, and to archive online all the information she has collected on mineral specimens since the 1930s.
The collection has old classics, old localities, and a stunning variety of species – over 12,000 pieces! It was simply too big for any one dealer to handle. We struck a deal to handle several thousand specimens from the collection over the next 3-5 years, and have now made our first selection of 500 rare and valuable old specimens that we will be listing throughout the upcoming weeks and months! These old classics will be exclusively available only through our auctions on eBay and through fellow dealer Rob Lavinsky of The Arkenstone, with whom we partnered with on this collection! We each picked specimens from the first few cabinets of the collection, and then put the rest in storage for now so that more fresh pieces can come out in parcels over the next few years for our customers to enjoy!
Click here to see the first group of specimens up for auction:
http://bit.ly/mineralman

The Messina Mine Ajoite is certainly a fine addition to any collection!


I HIGHLY recommend reading the Mineralogical Record feature about this amazing woman’s remarkable life and career in collecting here:
http://www.mineralogicalrecord.com/pdfs/Kay%20Robertson%20Collection.pdf
You can read about the trip to pack the collection and the reasons for its sale, here:
http://www.irocks.com/kay-robertson-a-treasure-in-the-mineral-collecting-world/

You can bid on this fine spinel on eBay with MineralMan999
http://bit.ly/mineralman

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Finding the Princess Pat Mine, lighting up Shadow Mountain California

I enjoy seeing rocks light up under Short Wave Ultra Violet light, so do millions of other people in the world. It is exciting to see brilliant colors coming from, what commonly is, a not very visually stunning rock. While large exotic crystals can fluoresce, many times it is something drab and visually unappealing that shows brilliant reaction to “black light”. As the field trip leader for an active group of rock hounds, my monthly trip for February of 2017 was to the area known for brightly fluorescent rocks in the Shadow Mountains, just West of highway 395, in the high desert of Southern California.

Cars parked to go collecting in California

Every month we lead a field trip for the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop in Hesperia California, visit the shop and join us!

Princess Pat Mine Short Wave UV Rocks

This photo shows the typical rocks found at the Shadow Mountain Tungsten District under normal light and under SW UV light.

To start out my planning for this trip, I did a basic Google search for what I thought the name of the mine was, the “Princess Pat Mine”. Google brought up some pages with various bits of information, some photographs, but no real indication of where the mine was specifically located. I then turned my attention to MRDS, as talked about in Rockhounding 101, this site can give me a list of mines, pinpointed on a map, showing what has been found in the area. It was a surprise to see that while there were a dozen or more deposits for Scheelite, the highly UV reactive mineral we were after, none of the mines were called “Princess Pat”. However, looking at the Google map, I noticed the road that takes you right to the majority of the scheelite deposits was called “Princess Pat Mine Road”. In fact, you simply turn west off the 395 onto this unmarked road and go for 5 miles until you hit the collecting area. But, why was I having such a pain finding the “Princess Pat Mine”?

I broke open Pemberton’s “Minerals of California” to find an entry for the Shadow Mountain Tungsten deposits on page 337, where it states “6. In the Shadow Mountains, on the northwest flank of Silver Peak, there are a number of scheelite deposits consolidated as the Just Associates quarries. The scheelite occurs in quartz veins cutting garnet-epidote-quartz tactite.” – however, no mention of the “Princess Pat Mine” – So, could it have been that the name “Princess Pat” was older or newer than this 1983 tome of California minerals? With this, I pulled out the Murdoch and Webb version of “Minerals of California”, 1966 edition, which leaves out the Shadow Mountain tungsten mines from the entries on scheelite in San Bernardino County.

Luck would serve me up a reference to “California journal of mines and geology”, Volume 49, which featured a fantastically in depth article on ore bodies of San Bernardino County, which reads

Just Tungsten Quarries (Just Associates, Princess Pat, Shadow Mountains Mines). Location: sees. 30 and 31, T. 8 N., R. 6 W., S.B.M., on
the northwest flank of Silver Peak, Shadow Mountains, about 13 airline miles west of Helendale and 14 airline miles northwest of Adelanto.
Ownership : Just Associates, E. Richard Just and Oliver P. Adams, 726
Story Building, Los Angeles, California, own unpatented claims totaling 440 acres. The property is leased to Just Tungsten Quarries, E.
Richard Just and associates, 726 Story Building, Los Angeles, California.

The deposit, now known as the Just Tungsten Quarries, was discovered in 1937. Operations from late 1937 to early 1938 by the Shadow
Mountains Tungsten Mines and W. A. Trout and C. A. Rasmussen re-
sulted in the recovery of about 750 units of W0 3 from nearly 3000 tons
of selected ore treated in a 40-ton mill on the property. The operation
was not successful and the mill was dismantled. During the mid-1940 ‘s
lessees mined about 400 tons of ore, and during the late 1940 ‘s the
Princess Pat Mining Company leased the property but apparently produced no ore. Operations from April 1952 to mid-1952 have yielded a
few hundred tons of ore of undisclosed grade.

The scheelite occurs in quartz veins cutting garnet-epidote-quartz
tactite bodies which exist at the contact between a Mesozoic granitic
rock and Paleozoic ( ?) metamorphic rocks, mostly impure limestone and
schist. The foliated rocks strike slightly north of east and dip gently
south. Scheelite-bearing tactite also has been developed, away from the
contact, along beds in the limestone, to form thin bodies of ore separated by barren limestone beds.

The deposit was explored during 1937-38 by 1800 feet of zig-zag
trenches, 10 feet wide and 6 to 10 feet deep, excavated by a power shovel
up a moderate slope in a southwesterly direction. A 65-foot vertical shaft
was sunk near the lower end of this trench system, but no mining was
done underground.

Employed in the early prospecting was a large field-type lamp requiring a 110-volt current, and a portable gasoline-powered motor generator set. This may have been the first practical application of a lamp
of this type.

Ore is being mined from a bench cutting into a trenched area about
50 feet north of the shaft. Mining operations are carried on at night,
and the ore is sorted with the aid of ultra-violet light. Shipments have
been made to both the Jaylite and Parker custom mills in Barstow.

There you go, the “Princess Pat Mine” has the distinction of being a mine that produced no ore.

As it was, the tungsten mines produced little more than some naming confusions and quite possibly some bad debt, as the scheelite riches would never quite materialize from this deposit. Tungsten is an element that was listed by the United States Government as a strategic reserve, as most of our Tungsten comes from China, during WWII it was known that it would be scarce, so efforts were made to ensure production could be met at home. Plenty of trenches and tunnels were driven in this 140 acre unpatented claim, in the end, producing nothing more than a playground for collectors with an UV light.

Princess Pat Mine Short Wave Minerals

The mostly smooth desert road is littered with rocks that glow under SW UV light

There is often a little confusion as to what kind of Ultra-violet light one needs to get the enjoyment out of collecting UV minerals. I have used many varieties of products and I’ve found what I like and what I do not like. Obviously, a light with ample power is what one wants. Small hand held units are commonly available in 6 watt and under, which gives you a reaction when you hold the light VERY close to the specimen. However, the difference between a low wattage light and something in the 9, 18, or even, 36 watts will astonish every viewer. If you want maximum enjoyment out of UV collecting, a dual wave 18 watt light is a sound investment. Some minerals glow under Long Wave (365nm) range, but honestly, I find Long Wave to be the most limited, while Short Wave (285nm), produces amazing effects. When it comes to companies, well, some come and some go, while some are longstanding companies that I do not personally enjoy, when it comes to price vs. what you get, so, I would like to steer you in the right direction. At this time, in winter of 2017, there are no good companies to purchase a UV light from on Amazon.com. In fact, I would push you in two directions. #1, UVTools.com – They have been producing some fine lights, which come accompanied by a great informative kit. I highly recommend all the units they sell, even the sub-9 watt lights. #2, on eBay, the seller topazminer_minerals_and_fossils has been having great deals on a fine selection of high powered lights, at very reasonable prices. I would suggest viewing their offerings when looking for a great UV light.

 

Sorry, no items were found to display. That could mean that these items are currently not available or that there is a temporary problem.

You could try checking later, or go and search eBay directly.

Another thing you could try is to search Amazon.com.

As part of the field trip series that I lead for the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop in Hesperia California, we took a trip out to the “Princess Pat Mine” area, or, as it should be known, the Just Associates Tungsten area, or, even still, the Shadow Mountain Tungsten area. You simply follow Princess Pat Mine road from highway 395 for 5 miles and you will find yourself facing the various prospect pits and trenches filled with cobbles and boulders of mostly white rocks that will glow readily under short wave light. You will see bright orange from the potassium rich calcite caliche, you’ll see bright green from the uranium included quartz. The bright white/blue scheelite is the real winner, appearing as belts of star-like dots in the rocky background. Rarely, one can find bright red from the wollastonite found in the area.

Cars parked to go collecting in California

Every month we lead a field trip for the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop in Hesperia California, visit the shop and join us!

Tailing pile of minerals at the Shadow Mountain Scheelite Deposit

This pile of ore rubble was waiting for us at the parking area 1/10th of a mile from the start of the major trenching. This pile of rocks glows brightly if you do not wish to go into the rocky tailings beyond.

A group of about 30 of us descended on the mine area around 5pm, getting a view of the area before the sun set, by 6pm we were ready to see some rocks glow! Many of us came equipped with various powered UV lights. Some of the inexpensive LED Longwave lights were causing the calcite to glow a slight pinkish, but that was all, while the Shortwave lights were causing the whole area to light up. Everything around the area was glowing light wild, which lead to lots of happy rockhounds and many people remarking that they could not wait to come back and bring friends to show this wonderful area to. In this lonely desert, with no lights besides the moon and the stars, one can get some amazing results with a short wave ultra-violet light!

Collecting at the Princess Pat Mine

There were plenty of trenches pushed into the mountain which make great areas to illuminate the walls in search of black light rocks

Collecting Short Wave Ultra Violet Rocks

In the dark, scanning for rocks that react to SW Ultra Violet Light is a blast!

Short Wave Light glowing Rocks

Here is a rock responding to SW UV light on the mine dump at the Princess Pat Mine/Just Associates Mine

So, go out and enjoy a day or night at the Shadow Mountain Tungsten District. There are no active claims, there is no ore of worth, it is just you and the coyotes, howling at the moon and looking down at the twinkling scheelite stars…

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Rockhound Barstow – Collect Agates, Onyx, Dioptase, Celestite and more in this Mojave Desert Town

You should own a copy of this field guide and go Rockhound Barstow California!

You should own a copy of this field guide and go Rockhound Barstow California!

The Mojave desert is a mineralogically rich area. One small town of less than 30,000 people serves as a great jumping off point for dozens of fantastic collecting sites. Many of these locations are Southern California classics, found in field guides dating to the early 1940’s and surprisingly, still producing to this day. The Cady Mountains are an endless source of material, in fact, in 2016 a brand new find of “Baxter Blue” agate was found that rivals blue agate from anywhere in the world. You can be sure that enough time spent in the loving folds of the Cady mountains will reveal some mind blowing treasures to the lapidarist.

Top Notch Agate being cut into slabs.  The Cady Mountains produce beautiful treasures you'll love working with!

Top Notch Agate being cut into slabs. The Cady Mountains produce beautiful treasures you’ll love working with!

A sampling of cabochons made from material found in the Cady and Alvord Mountains

A sampling of cabochons made from material found in the Cady and Alvord Mountains

Just a few miles outside of Barstow you hit the Calico Mountains with a vast silver district, an amazing series of borate deposits, celestite for days, tons and tons of fine selenite and ample supplies of petrified palm root just pouring out of the hills…and silver lace onyx and calcite concretions that can have celestite and quartz replaced spiders and flies inside! That is just the things you can find in a small mountain range just four miles north of highway 15!

Polished Celestite from one of the many celestite deposits found along with the Borates of the Calico Mountains

Polished Celestite from one of the many celestite deposits found along with the Borates of the Calico Mountains

Gem crystal clusters of Colemanite are found in the Calico Mountains, ready to come home with you!

Gem crystal clusters of Colemanite are found in the Calico Mountains, ready to come home with you!

Colemanite glows bright in Short Wave Ultra Violet Light, like MANY of the minerals found in the area.

Colemanite glows bright in Short Wave Ultra Violet Light, like MANY of the minerals found in the area.

One of the reasons Barstow is such a great starting point for rockhounding in this area is the prime location. Just 2 hours north-east of Los Angeles and 2 hours south-west of Las Vegas, this town has most everything you need for traveling in this area. Gas, groceries, hotels, restaurants, even the Diamond Pacific Rock Shop, attached to the Diamond Pacific Lapidary Equipment factory. Emergency services, like tire and vehicle repair can be found in Barstow so that even in the worst of conditions, there is somewhere “local” to take care of any problems. Convenience is what Barstow provides and there is no reason why that is not a good thing!

Just a half hour south of Barstow, and conveniently, a half hour closer to the LA Basin, the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop of Hesperia proposed this project, wanting to provide a field guide for the local area to visitor to their rock shop. The shop runs a very robust field trip service, providing guided field trips once a month to locations around the High Desert. They sell 6 monthly trips for $50 on their website MiningSuppliesandRockShop.com

Who better to write and produce this Barstow rockhound field guide than the field trip leaders, Justin and Brandy Zzyzx – locals to the area and avid rockhounds, each of the locations in Rockhounding Barstow have been visited by Justin and Brandy. Justin wrote the text and Brandy designed the maps, as you can see in the sample below.

Sample page from the Rockhound Barstow Field Guide - Lead Mountain, just a couple miles from highway 15, a great place to visit and collect colorful crystals!

Sample page from the Rockhound Barstow Field Guide – Lead Mountain, just a couple miles from highway 15, a great place to visit and collect colorful crystals!

Many of the locations have been written about before, while some of them are being published in this field guide for the very first time. One of the locations that is very exciting is the North Cady Mountain collecting, including the Top Notch claim, prospected by Bill Depue and John Pickett, of Diamond Pacific. This spot has been producing some really lovely material, bright red, golden siderite, fortification and banding of clear and lavender agate. Oh, a day collecting here just can not be beat! You are going to get directions to this very spot and over 20 more locations, just waiting for you to come visit.

Bright Red and Golden Top Notch Agate from the North Cady Mountains, featured in the Rockhound Barstow Field Guide

Bright Red and Golden Top Notch Agate from the North Cady Mountains, featured in the Rockhound Barstow Field Guide

Siderite is not a common inclusion in agates so it is a welcome site to see this material, rich with gold and red along with beautiful gel agate from the North Cady Mountains

Siderite is not a common inclusion in agates so it is a welcome site to see this material, rich with gold and red along with beautiful gel agate from the North Cady Mountains

Another interesting feature is the interactive rockhound map provided in the guide. Simply type in the website address and on your phone google maps will open up and you’ll be provided with a pinpointed map featuring all the locations in the book PLUS additional locations, each of them showing you EXACTLY where to collect. Most of the locations in the books will have cell phone service, allowing you to use the interactive google map as a guided satellite directly to the collecting location. Truly a first in terms of mineral collecting field guides!

This fun "Nickle Quartz" comes from the North Calico Mountains but you will not find the location on the printed pages of the Rockhounding Barstow booklet...but you WILL find it on the Interactive Google Map that is found inside the booklet!  Nickle, Wollastonite, Garnet, and so much more await you, with new locations added occasionally.

This fun “Nickle Quartz” comes from the North Calico Mountains but you will not find the location on the printed pages of the Rockhounding Barstow booklet…but you WILL find it on the Interactive Google Map that is found inside the booklet! Nickel Quartz, Wollastonite, Garnet, and so much more await you, with new locations added occasionally.

By now I’m sure you are chomping at the bit to find out how to get your copy of this booklet. This digest sized field guide, with a color cover, color photographs of what you can expect to find, over 20 collecting locations, all this can be yours for $7.99 plus shipping and handling! That’s right, just $7.99 gets you a fountain of information, right at your fingertips!

Cover and Back Cover of the Rockhounding Barstow Field Guide, full of mineral collecting locations you can visit!

Cover and Back Cover of the Rockhounding Barstow Field Guide, full of mineral collecting locations you can visit!

The Rockhound Barstow booklet will be shipping from the printer January 20th, available for pickup at the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop in Hesperia or delivered to your home by ordering from their website, MiningSuppliesandRockShop.com

Simply use PayPal to order directly by Credit Card or your PayPal account, or send a check or money order for $11.49 (price with shipping) to:
Mining Supplies and Rock Shop
9565 C Avenue, Suite K
Hesperia, CA 92345

You are going to enjoy this field guide and be sure to check out the field trip schedule on MiningSuppliesandRockShop.com

The abundant Gypsum/Selenite in the Calico Mountains is great for tumbling, polishing, carving and collecting.  We use it as a water softener.

The abundant Gypsum/Selenite in the Calico Mountains is great for tumbling, polishing, carving and collecting. We use it as a water softener.

The Lavic Sidling Jasper location is not just limited to the classic areas, but also spilling out to the West and North of Pisgah Crater, as you'll see in the Rockhounding Barstow Booklet

The Lavic Sidling Jasper location is not just limited to the classic areas, but also spilling out to the West and North of Pisgah Crater, as you’ll see in the Rockhounding Barstow Booklet

Chalcedony Roses are very abundant out in the Mojave Desert

Chalcedony Roses are very abundant out in the Mojave Desert

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Collecting by Air – AirMindat takes to the Skies to Collect in Arizona

What do you do when you’re in Tucson at the Gem and Mineral Show on the Friday, when the show is full of school children and you really don’t want to have to be there dealing with them all? Simple. You go collecting. But you need to be back at the show by mid-afternoon? No problem. Let’s hire a helicopter!

The Crew loading into the helicopter in search of Arizona treasures

The Crew loading into the helicopter in search of Arizona treasures

At the TGMS show in 2009, several of the regulars from the mindat.org online chat room got together to organize just such a trip. The late Roy Lee was the leader of this trip, which we were hoping to make an annual event. Sadly he died just one year later, so this has remained so far the only mindat.org helicopter collecting trip.

We boarded the helicopter at Tucson Airport, after some concerns that too many of us were carrying extra weight. And I’m not talking about hand tools. But, the helicopter made it into the sky and we started our flight towards the Catalina Mountains – flying directly over the Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the “boneyard” where all the retired US military aircraft are stored. It was quite alarming to be flying over the main runway as a C-130 transport was making it’s final descent, seemingly flying straight at us at one point. Having survived our encounter with the US Air Force, we headed off towards our first destination – the Grand Reef Mine.

Mike Rumsey collecting mineral specimens

Mike Rumsey collecting specimens without the worry of washed out roads, boulders or rock slides!

This mine is notoriously difficult to access, with no nearby access roads. So the luxury of being able to fly right up to it and practically land on it was the stuff that mineral dreams are made of. The Grand Reef Mine is famous for linarite and other rare lead/copper secondary minerals. We spent about 90 minutes exploring the locality, collecting on the extensive dumps and admiring the scenery. Everyone in the party found decent specimens.

But what’s better than flying by helicopter to a great mineral locality before lunchtime? Flying to a second – so after we’d finished at the Grand Reef mine, we headed off again to the Table Mountain Mine – which is well known for dioptase crystals. The helicopter made an impressive landing on an exposed ledge (which happened to be made out of glassy slag from the smelters), and we again disembarked and wandered up to the tips to collect.

We all found nice dioptase specimens, but Jim Beam found a fabulous little ‘christmas tree’ of dioptase crystals, and between us we found specimens of conichalcite with possible austinite and duftite. Some samples appear to have minerals previously unreported from the locality, and once they are confirmed they will be reported on mindat.org.

Dioptase collected at the Table Mountain Mine in Arizona

Jim Bean shows off his little christmas tree shaped dioptase cluster collected at the Table Mountain Mine

Finally, we boarded the helicopter for the flight back to Tucson Airport and a short drive back to the Convention center, and we were back in the show almost as the last of the school buses full of kids was departing.

Editor Note – Yes, you can get to these locations, with a helicopter, or a lot of hiking. This article was originally published in The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine, Vol 4, Number 3. You can get the reprinted book on Amazon, or directly from the publisher on MineralMagazines.com

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