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.

 

UV Lamps for Sale

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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…

Related posts:

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 this website.


Rockhound Barstow Field Guide




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

What are ya waiting for? Get a copy and come and visit!


Rockhound Barstow Field Guide




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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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Dinosaur Aged Amber from the Sayreville New Jersey Clay Pits

Article and Photos by Paul Cyr- eonphader@hotmail.com

New Jersey is no stranger to geological anomaly. Most American rockhounds are familiar with the fluorescent minerals of Franklin and Sterling Hill, and thousands of people from around the globe have graced their collection cabinets with prehnite and other traprock minerals of the Watchung mountains, giving a classic “old school” scientific feel to that shelf of the display. New Jersey has also produced its fair share of paleontological specimens, including many holotypes and species completely new to science. Some of the most interesting finds include gem grade amber with insect inclusions from the Sayreville and Cliffwood Beach areas.

Insect inclusion in a large polished piece of Sayreville amber collected December 3, 1995. FOV 7mm.

Insect inclusion in a large polished piece of Sayreville amber collected December 3, 1995. FOV 7mm.

The amber occurs within the lignite peat layer above the deep deposits of the South Amboy Fire Clay. The New Jersey amber is the oldest in the Americas with insect inclusions. From this amber, researchers have discovered several new species of ants, including the oldest ones ever documented, giving new branches in the evolutionary line of ants. According to a paper by the American Museum of Natural History researchers, there are a dozen or more amber producing localities in and around Sayreville, but here will will focus on one. In the 1990’s, this locality was monitored by the research department of the AMNH. This study accumulated hundreds of pounds of amber from the Sayreville area, including thousands of specimens with insect inclusions. This was a part of a grand study involving insects included in amber from all over the world. Through this research, many new species of insects were added to taxonomy. Did we mention there is pyrite too?

A nice sized piece of gem amber on clay matrix, with lignite. Fresh harvest.

A nice sized piece of gem amber on clay matrix, with lignite. Fresh harvest.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Amber, Pyrite and Lignite in one specimen. With some careful transport tactics, examples like this can be preserved.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Amber, Pyrite and Lignite in one specimen. With some careful transport tactics, examples like this can be preserved.

You can find the author Paul, along with the website owner, Justin Zzyzx, at the Edison New Jersey Mineral Show – April 7-9th 2017 It is a CAN NOT MISS Event- Click the Banner and sign up for the mailing list for more information!
banner

For tools, it is recommended to bring various shovels, picks, small metal rakes, and other digging and scraping apparatus. The porous, but thick and sandy clay behaves differently depending on how wet it is, so you may want to try a few different tools to figure out what works for you. Bring a small plastic vial or jar to keep your amber isolated and safe.
If you have nothing else, a nearly empty plastic water bottle with a bit of liquid left in it will keep your amber safe, and clean it up a bit too.

Fully prepared, gem grade amber pendant shows off a warm glow in sunlight.

Fully prepared, gem grade amber pendant shows off a warm glow in sunlight.

In my experience, most of the pyrite is found on the surface, and appears to form due to the iron and sulfur nucleating in the center of the puddles in the cracked clay mud. The pyrite is mostly unstable, and will quickly lose its luster and begin to disintegrate if special precautions are not taken. The main key is to keep it completely dry. I have heard that putting it in a cool oven can help remove all moisture. I have used 3-in1 oil to give them a day dip, and take them out to dry. After the pyrite nodule is dry, apply a few layers of spray acrylic. Unfortunately, only a few of my specimens have held up to this point, but they are unique items in our inventory. Some post-pyrite secondaries seem to be found in microcrystals on some of the pyrites as they alter in the weather. Melanterite and jarosite may be present. More research needs to be done on the pyrite alteration at this locality.

No pyrite in the tire, I checked.

No pyrite in the tire, I checked.

The amber can be founded in small rounded grains along the surface. If you are looking for the large pieces with insect inclusions, you’ll have to dig. The lignite layer is a few feet down (I have heard anywhere from 4 to 9 feet subsurface). Lignite is the precursor to coal, and looks almost exactly like burnt wood. When you get down to this level, you are on the right track. In and around the lignite, you should be able to find evidence of amber soon enough. A nice sized piece with an insect inclusion could be the reward for your hard work.

Fresh amber in the field.

Fresh amber in the field.

Same pile of amber after first cleaning.

Same pile of amber after first cleaning.

Closeup of the amber.

Closeup of the amber.

Plant matter within the amber has been found to be in the juniper family. The lignite peat deposits were probably formed by ancient coastal cedar swamps. The age of this amber has been recorded from 90-92 million years old, in the midst of the Cretaceous Period. Amazing that something so fragile can still exist! This is one of, if not the ONLY locality that produces amber from the same time as the dinosaurs. If Jurassic Park was to happen, we would be thanking New Jersey amber for the DNA. Some of the forms are stalactitic, showing evidence of where it dripped from the tree. It is remarkable to find such objects. Some of the amber is opaque and looks like tan to brown wood opal, with similar luster and conchoidal fracture. The amber ranges from a yellow-hued honey color to a rich cherry red, and can also be brown. It is transparent when wet or polished, making for a beautiful finished product when worked. One gentleman has told me that if you have a big and stable enough piece, it can be polished with a toothbrush and toothpaste- but it takes quite a while. I have a specimen he polished this way in my personal collection. It is almost an inch tall and has a distinct and complete winged insect inclusion. It is one of the treasures of my New Jersey collection.

It's fluorescent. Most of the amber glows brightly in standard longwave UV light.

It’s fluorescent. Most of the amber glows brightly in standard longwave UV light.

To get there, plug in Lakeview Drive Sayreville, NJ into your GPS. When you get on this road, you will be in an apartment complex. Keep following to the end of the road, and park in the little cul-de-sac conveniently located at the trail head. The trail may look enticing, but avoid it unless you plan on exploring for possible separate amber pits. On the left side of the path, climb up the hill right next to the parking area and cross the railroad tracks. You’ll come to the other side where there is a trail. Make a left onto the trail, soon the terrain will flatten. Walk a few hundred feet down, and look for a dip in the brush on the right side. It is crude getting in to the pits, and ticks can be plentiful- use caution.

The Railroad to Amber. Cross over here. Beware of trains.

The Railroad to Amber. Cross over here. Beware of trains.

Ramble through the deer trails- a shovel or sifter can act as a shield through the thicket. Out in this stretch of bush you’ll reach the mud pits, dotted with amber and pyrite to the discerning eye. You may want to check a satellite view on Google Earth for a precise look at the field.

You've made it. Welcome to the locality.

You’ve made it. Welcome to the locality.

A happy amber collector enjoying the ancient fruits of the labor.

A happy amber collector enjoying the ancient fruits of the labor.

This locality is known for its aesthetic cracked mud.

This locality is known for its aesthetic cracked mud.

For lunch, I recommend White Castle in Parlin- new veggie burgers are delish! Good luck, and email me if you find anything substantial! Paul Cyr- eonphader@hotmail.com – you can also find Paul and his minerals for sale on Facebook – at the Deep Seeded Trading Post

This video will give you a visual idea of what to expect at the location

Collect Amber and Pyrite in Sayreville New Jersey created by Justin Zzyzx in 2005, now hosted on Vimeo.

Again, don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list for this great rock and mineral show in Edison New Jersey, one of the biggest shows in the United States!
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Red Jasper and Celestite Geode Specimens found near Hanksville Utah

Every year we look forward to visiting one of the most beautiful places in the world, the San Rafael Swell, a series of sandstone, shale and limestone that has been worn down by erosion by water, air and time.

San Rafael Swell landscape

A group of rain clouds hangs in the air above the dramatic rock formations of the San Rafael Swell

One of the best things is that the collecting locations are fairly close to highway 70, a road we travel every year in order to go back and forth from California to Colorado for the annual Denver Mineral Show, which is taking place as I type this.

For rockhounds and lapidary artists, the bountiful red/yellow jasper found in this area is worth stopping for. The jasper nuggets are found with a bubbly rind, colors caused by iron oxides, accepting a fine polish.

Red and Yellow Jasper with a bubbly rind, found near interstate 70 in central Utah.

Red and Yellow Jasper with a bubbly rind, found near interstate 70 in central Utah.

Bubbly Red Jasper Rind on a Crystal Filled Geode

Bubbly Red Jasper Rind on a Crystal Filled Geode

There are several areas to collect jasper, as you can see on this map, the two main areas are directly south of I-70, both accessible with a standard passenger vehicle. The first location is just north of a dirt road you enter heading West, .7 mile from the exit on route 24. The next location is on a dirt road heading east 4.2 miles from I-70, or 3.5 miles from the first dirt road.

map to jasper locations near hanskville utah

Two Jasper locations off highway 24, just south of interstate 70

The exciting thing to find while out looking for jasper are thin walled geodes with crystals of celestite, calcite and quartz inside. By gently splitting along the cracks in the walls of the geodes, you can find bright blue crystals of celestite, up to 4.5 cm, along with calcite in various forms and colors and druzy quartz, sometimes with an amethystine color.

Celestite Crystals inside a geode of Red Jasper

Celestite Crystals inside a geode of Red Jasper

Thin blades of Calcite forming on the inside of a red jasper geode

Thin blades of Calcite forming on the inside of a red jasper geode

The geodes are created due to the fact that they were originally filled with anhydrite, which then dissolved, mixed along with the marine sediments, giving the proper environment for celestite to form. The celestite in this area used to be mined commercially back when celestite was in demand. Now, there is very little demand for the raw material, which can be sourced very cheaply from sources around the world. The celesite is now mined for mineral specimens, sporadically.

Orange Calcite crystals with Blue Celestite crystals from the Swell

Orange Calcite crystals with Blue Celestite crystals from the Swell

Gray sparkling Quartz in a Jasper Nodule

Gray sparkling Quartz in a Jasper Nodule

When looking for these jasper geodes, you can often tell if there are crystals inside by the weight. Be careful not to shake the geodes violently, as loose crystals can smack into the crystals attached on the matrix. You most certainly do not want to smash these geodes open with a hammer, you can typically find a crack or fissure in the wall and pry it open with a screwdriver.

Utah is a beautiful place. This remote, yet, heavily traveled, area of the world, is a perfect reason to stop and stretch your legs! I hope you enjoy a trip to this area at least once in your life!

Cover of the Rocks and Minerals issue with a very well written article about the Celestite Geodes of The San Rafael Swell.

Cover of the Rocks and Minerals issue with a very well written article about the Celestite Geodes of The San Rafael Swell.

We highly suggest this issue of Rocks & Minerals photographed above. Rocks & Minerals is well worth subscribing to, they are one of the best mineral magazines ever printed.

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