Cascade Canyon Ruby Crystals – A Los Angeles Hidden Gem

Ruby crystals found near los angeles glow bright red under long wave UV light.

Cascade Canyon, located exactly 1.7 miles southwest of Mt. Baldy, is the home to many interesting, if small, minerals and veins of interesting polishable minerals. Collecting around the top and bottom of the canyon, we have found various qualities and sizes of corundum var. ruby along with small veins of beautiful, if hard to come by, pieces of lapis. In addition, we have found minerals that the area is not well known for, including small dravite crystals, epidote, diopside and uv reactive calcite.

1.7 miles from Mt. Baldy, on the south side of cascade canyon, ruby crystals are found.

The lapis deposit is near the top of the mountain, with no access that would be considered even reasonably obtainable by anyone who is not well versed in mountain climbing. In addition, the area of the deposit was covered in an avalanche years ago. Anyone attempting to reach this deposit would be doing so at risk of life itself. In the upper streams of cascade canyon, before it turns into what would be impassible for most, bits and pieces of lapis can be found. Most people we have interviewed who have collected there in the past are happy with one visit to the location.

On Barrett-Stoddard Road, though closed to vehicle traffic, you can find interesting mineralization along the roadside, which is now a popular hiking/biking trail. Calcite veins with Diopside crystals have been located, however, the diopside is not crystallized well, with a melted appearance. The corundum locations along the roadside give the viewer a understanding that the deposit of “ruby” stretches along the entire mountainside.

Along the bottom of the canyon, on the south side of cascade canyon, along the area where the mountain follows the river on the lip of the eastern mountainside. While boulders of ruby bearing matrix can be found EVERYWHERE along the mountainside, the most popular collecting location is a small canyon that dumped out the contents of several rockslides into the valley below, creating a field rich with broken chunks of rocks with small ruby crystals inside.

Ruby crystals found near los angeles glow bright red under long wave UV light.

We were delighted to read Natalie Weisiger’s article about her trip to Cascade Canyon with the Gem and Mineral Council of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. You can read about it, right here at http://omigems.com/blog/2013/07/california-corundum-from-the-ground-to-my-finger/ It is very interesting to read about the California ruby coming from the ground and into a piece of jewelry. You can certainly believe that is one unique piece of jewelry!


Natalie Weisiger in front of the landslide pile of ruby bearing rocks on the south side of Cascade Canyon

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Quartz collecting in Peterson mountain

A poster on the Reddit community “r/Rockhounds” posted a Imgur gallery of 60 photos showcasing his trip to Peterson Mountain. We are happy to be able to share the story behind the photos, by user iseriouslydislikeyou, though I’m sure he might like you, fellow rockhound!

Typical abundance of quartz, found loose at Peterson Mountain

This is Peterson mountain off of highway route 395, outside of Reno. I heard about it from a friend a long time ago. It is very rich in quartz throughout the mountain. You can pretty much start digging anywhere and you will find something worth taking home.

View of the valley below from Peterson Mountain

Please note that the very top of this mountain is a commercially mined active claim and you are NOT ALLOWED to mine into the top. I say it so stringently because the man who owns the claim, Yon Johnson, is a complete gentleman who is worried about safety, above all else. There are tempting rock walls at the top to dig in for pockets, but they are his walls because he made them so don’t trespass.
peterson8
Down the mountain on the CA side, at the state line, is where is claim seems to end so you can dig in. Alternatively, there are rubble/waste piles on the top that enthusiasts can sift through for some fun stuff. It is a mountain and there is quartz everywhere. You can find it, if you only attempt to try.
The conditions are hostile at best. During the day it is wicked high-altitude hot, and at night it is freezing. The best month to go is June near as I can tell from some research and experience. There is NOTHING out there so you need to bring everything you will need. Just remember anything you leave there stays there, and it is a beautiful and precious land, so don’t litter.

peterson7
You can stay in Reno and make a day trip of the mountain if that is your thing.
A view of the collecting area in Peterson Mountain, California

My understanding is that scepters of this magnitude only occur here in the world which makes it a real treat. The scepter examples in my imgur link are the best I have ever found out of four trips. I have never found a WHOLE one.

Scepter Quartz from Peterson Mountain

There is some killer stuff in their commercial dig from 2006 check it out: Scott Klein of Great Basin Minerals Collecting Report at Peterson Mountain

Dirty Citrine Quartz Crystal

Beautiful Gem Grade Amethyst from Peterson Mountain

Amethyst Crystal from Peterson Mountain

So there are certainly good crystals to be found there. The intersection of 395 and 70 is called Hallelujah Junction. 5-7 miles past the junction on 395 is where you want to hit the dirt. You will see it the path, the is a janky barbed wire fence.


View Peterson Mountain Quartz Collecting in a larger map

The land is BLM land so it is federal property. BLM land is a great, you can even primitive camp on BLM land. Snakes and Scorpions abound; bring gloves, boots, sun hat, and sun screen.

In addition to smoky and white crystals and scepters you can find gem quality amethyst.

Please be respectful of the claims and the land. Four-wheel drive is a must for these rugged dirt roads.
To see the full photo set, visit this photo gallery
To clean up after a long day, or weekend, collecting at the mountain, check out Hotels.com for great deals on local hotels and go take a hot shower!

Here at WhereToFindRocks.com, our FAVORITE dealer to go to for great professionally collected Peterson Mountain quartz is ScepterGuy, Joe George.
You can find him on eBay by clicking this banner.
Cascade Scepters on eBay

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When the weather is warm, St. Lawrence County is one of our favorite New York Locations for collecting!

Find more about Weather in Potsdam, NY
Click for weather forecast

Thinking about the East Coast quite a bit, our minds are set on the display cases for the NY/NJ mineral show in Edison New Jersey, April 12-14. We found ourselves involved in organizing all of the cases, nearly 50 six foot tall wall cases, filled with great minerals from the NorthEast, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The trees are blooming here in Southern California and it makes me wonder what it is like in St. Lawrence County, one of our favorite collecting regions in the United States. Well, as of the end of March, 2013, it looks like Potsdam is still getting the occasional snow flurry. So, keep an eye out for days of sunshine and take a trip to St. Lawrence County, a real wonderland of minerals.

The-Vug.com published an issue of their printed magazine on St. Lawrence County and Chester County Pennsylvania, two diversely mineralized areas popular to collectors of the 1800’s. Because of the remoteness of St. Lawrence County, many of the locations for collecting are still available to collecting. Specifically, the deposits on Selleck Road and Power’s Farm, located a short distance from the college town of Potsdam, offer interesting crystals to those who make the trip.

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting
Tremolite from Selleck Road

map to collect tremolite and uvite at power's farm and selleck road in st. lawrence county, new york

The Tremolite is abundant and easy to collect, you can simply roam the forest floor and find several different styles of crystals. The more uncommon find at this location is the brown dravite tourmaline crystals. Either way, I would enjoy spending another day or three at this location.

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

To the north a few miles, Power’s Farm is the home to one of the most famous New York locations, the classic black Uvite tourmaline crystals are found.

Collecting at Power's Farm in New York

You can read more about it in the book reprint of The-Vug.com Magazine, which is available for purchase at this link, it is very colorful and inexpensive!

You can read that issue, online, hosted by WheretoFindRocks.com by clicking the magazine cover.

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Hotel rooms in Potsdam are available on Hotels.com, a great town to visit!

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Rockhounding 101 – How to REALLY FIND minerals and rocks!

Rocky Rockhammer MascotOn this website we are sharing information about locations that some of the various contributors to this site have gone to. All of us find out about these mineral locations from various sources. Many locations have been talked about in every media format available, some published locations are so well known it is common to run into another collector at any time, some of the locations published are visited less than a couple times a year, if at all. By media, I mean, printed in magazines, books, club newsletters, posted online in forums, websites, on homemade video, on professional video and on television. Some collectors will grumble that all this publicity will make the location run dry. It makes local officials either look forward to increased tourism, or look for ways to restrict access, as if rockhounding was a hobby that allows one to retire early (on public gains!), rather than typically be retired to enjoy! Mineral collecting is a truly patriotic hobby! Knowing and understanding minerals and the deposits has always been a matter of national security, public knowledge and scientific outreach.

While many websites will tell you about what tools you need and speak of rock hammers, backpacks and boots, our #1 tool is knowledge. First hand, published and in modern mythic tales, obtaining information about locations is something that is the first step to find out as much as possible about a location before ever visiting it.

Field Guides are a great resource, as well as magazines focused on rockhounding, from now all the way back into the beginning of the 20th century! Old magazines like “Rockhounds” and “The Mineralogist” are great resources, as well as old and current issues of “Rocks and Minerals” and “Rock and Gem”. All of these can be found for sale on eBay and at various mineral shows around the united states. You never know when you are going to come across a great article about a location you had JUST heard about! One of the most amazing online databases is the complete run of “American Mineralogist” on http://www.minsocam.org/msa/ammin/toc/
The older issues have articles that have lead me to locations that might have been completely forgotten about.

Mindat.org is an amazing database that many of you are already familiar with, however, we often forget to think about just how amazing this database is, including lists of references for corresponding articles and books about the subject.

Geology Departments of the state you live in or adjacent to you, has produced several state reports on mines and minerals, which will often include information that can be very useful now. In the early 1900’s, feldspar was an important commodity, unlike now. Knowledge of mineral deposits will tell us commercial feldspar deposits also had garnets and schorl tourmaline, sometimes quartz or even topaz. Often an entire hardcover book has been produced, detailing the minerals and the locations they are found, across the state. California has at least THREE editions of this kind of text and I’m sure there are several people planning the next edition.

Road Atlas are great to have when you are planning and while you are en route. I personally love the DeLorme series, nice large print maps that have helped guide me to countless locations. The BLM has a program you can use, the LR2000, but my personal favorite database is the MRDS, Mineral Resource Data System, detailing the principal and secondary ore and location of all working, placed and closed mines and mineral locations. Just load the map and locate your location. I think you’ll be surprised what you might not know about the mines in your proximity. While traveling through Utah and Colorado, our Road Map was invaluable, showing BLM land that was open for public camping.

Clubs are a real mixed bag, but as such, you will inevitably come across information from all directions. Both of my favorite beach and fossil collecting spots were told to me by a lady at the Searcher’s Rock Club in Anaheim California. Right now in 2013, I’m cleaning minerals and going field collecting with a friend I made from attending the Culver City Club back in 2004. That is a collecting friend who has gone on dozens of collecting trips with me over 9 years. I’ve learned about so many parts of this hobby from mineral clubs and it has been an enlightening experience in many ways. You can get a complete list of mineral clubs here.

We loved this idea so much, we made it. The Mineral Search Page located Right Here on WheretoFindRocks.com, is something that we made from our LOVE of the general searches for states, countries and forms on eBay. The idea behind this is that if you check out the eBay results for your state, or general area, you’ll come across people who have gone out collecting at public locations and put something on eBay. This can easily lead you to general areas to collect minerals. It is a great first step in researching current producing locations.

Museums and local collections are great resources. You’ll find the museums thing to be easy, if not a long term task. Searching out collections, both old and current, are wonderful sources of information. For instance, if you wanted a good run down of California locations, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has an entire wall devoted to very beautiful representations of our state, as well as the California Mining Museum in Mariposa. I LOVED the Wagner Free Institute which had this amazing OLD collection, untouched for a century. In the same vein, the Natural History museum of Prague featured minerals that had not been updated in decades, revealing a great deal of history that is so often removed from the more mainstream commercial museums. Local collections require a bit more finesse and luck. For example, getting to visit private collections can be mind expanding, as many long time private collectors have seen things that were so common for a small amount of time and now virtually unheard of. However, without some sort of recommendation from someone of some sort of personal relation ship with a private collector, most of them are not exactly looking for random visitors. However, if you had been a member of the Mineralogical Society of Southern California, you would have had the chance to visit with several outstanding collections belonging to members of that club. Which takes us back to Mineral Clubs, and why it is a wise idea to be involved with at least one of them.

Going to mineral shows is a great source of information, as the display cases often reveal locations that are open to collection. In fact, the name tags in the cases often match up to the club member’s name tags, the people running the mineral show, and often you can strike up a conversation about their display case.

Libraries all around have lead me to some wild collecting adventures. Your local library is going to have a couple things for sure, often books about the geology of the area, as well as a collection of the state’s publications on geological topics. A great for instance is back in the very beginning of my collecting days, some friends of mine discovered the 1962 edition of “Mineral Collecting in Pennsylvania”, which drove us in a search for the “Azurite” included quartz crystals of Kunkletown. The book was wrong, but there is nothing wrong with Anatase included Quartz, which we found. My most recent discovery of Lawsonite on the beaches of Southern California due to a geological sand sample report. You can read all about that in my upcoming blog entry.

Google Maps and Google Earth are to powerful tools that everyone has at their fingertips. You can do amazing amounts of research with both of these tools, locating mineral locations right down to their visible mine tailings! Understanding the various uplifts, errosion patterns, depressions and faint roads to nowhere are very useful for today’s mineral collector. A simple test, pick your favorite collecting area and look at it on google earth. You will see things you might have never noticed on foot.

Now, my secrets are revealed to you. I hope you use them wisely!

I want to leave you with this note, written by Rock Currier in the publication, “About Mineral Collecting” released by the Mineralogical Record.

Field collectors are a remarkable and accomplished breed. They are perhaps the rarest and purest kind of mineral collectors. They hearken back to the very beginnings of what we now call the earth sciences, and in many ways they embody the simple thrill and youthful joy of the treasure hunt. If you look you will find them “out there” trekking over just one more mountain, digging down just another foot, and hoping for just a little bit longer that they will find something. But remember, the first law of field collecting states: “The best to be found is still in the ground and the best that has been found has be ground!” (that is, ground up into powder in the mill and processed into metal)

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Collecting Howlite an hour North of Los Angeles

Mineral Club collecting at Tick Canyon in 1957
VGMS collecting at Tick Canyon back in 1957
For decades rockhounds have collected tons of howlite from the dumps of Tick Canyon.

To this day, tons of howlite still overflow at the mine dumps, dormant for over 100 years.


View Tick Canyon Howlite Collecting in a larger map

This location, clearly seen on the map above, is amazingly easy to find, park, and collect. The borate mine in Tick Canyon is called the Stearling Borax mine, which had its own mini railroad, a “dinky” sized rail, hauling borates out of the canyon to the station in Lang. The by product of colemanite mining at this location was an odd soft white material, with thin black spiderweb like inclusions running throughout. This material, Howlite, has no economic worth, as it is not an ore of borax, it is found littering the mine dumps.

Brandy Zzyzx collecting Howlite in Tick Canyon
The old mining area is now fenced off with no trespassing signs. Years ago, this main area was a common field trip location for clubs from all over Southern California. Uncommon minerals like Priceite and Veatchite could be found on the dumps, along with softball sized cauliflower shaped howlite nodules. You would think that with the original mine dump off limits, collecting would be impossible.
Howlite cut in half
This howlite nodule was cut in half, then mounted in a block of plaster. Photo by MiddleEarthMinerals.com
Something wonderful for mineral collectors, a large amount of the dump was pushed to the other side of Davenport Road, into the canyon below. This huge dump pile is full of howlite, as we found out visiting this location on December 23rd, 2012.
Howlite found in the dump material of the Stearling Borax Mine
Chunks of white Howlite can be seen in the dark gray dump
Forty pounds of howlite was gathered in what seemed like no time, with no digging required. The howlite was everywhere, even down the wash dozens of feet from the main dump pile.

Howlite is soft enough to carve easily, yet hard enough to be a popular lapidary item for cabbing, tumbling, and polishing.
Howlite chunk in Concrete block
You can see that the material was so unwanted, they would use it as a filler rock in concrete.

This location is a perfect place for anyone, it is easy, interesting and filled with desirable minerals!
Article from The-Vug.com Fakes Issue about Howlite
The article above is an excerpt from The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine Fakes Issue, which was reprinted in the compilation book, available for sale directly from the publisher!

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