The iconic Steamboat Tourmaline – an American Treasure

In 1907 the famous Steamboat Tourmaline was unearthed by Frank Barlow Schuyler in San Diego County in a rich tourmaline-bearing pocket zone in the mine which was named the Tourmaline King. It was then sold by Schuyler to Washington A. Roebling and it is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution.

professional photograph of the steamboat tourmaline cluster

Although the Steamboat Tourmaline is well known, few people are aware of its discovering in California by Schuyler. Schuyler was born on August 20, 1872 in Falls City, Nebraska. Schuyler took up the same work as his father, a machinist and manufacturer of mechanical tools and married his wife Ella S. Libby in San Luis Rey, California in November of 1894. Then in 1897, their only son Gerald Barlow Schuyler was born.

Schuyler teamed up with D.G. Harrington of Oceanside, California in March of 1903. The pair was exploring the Pala Chief Mountains in San Diego County for pegmatites. During their exploration, they stumbled upon a huge tourmaline deposit which they named the Tourmaline King Mine. Schuyler and Harrington began to construct an underground drift into the pegmatite directly under their surface discovery in 1904. About 60 feet underground and a few years later, the team found a gigantic tourmaline crystal-filled pocket. It extended almost 30 feet in length, about 10 feet wide and was uninterrupted for about 30 feet down dip. This single zone produced around 8 tons of pink tourmaline. The bulk of this discovery was sold to the Imperial Chinese government for a considerable price of $187.50 per pound.

business card of Frank Schuyler
Business card of Frank Schuyler

Schuyler presented and sold his tourmaline gems that he had extracted from the Tourmaline King Mine, at the 1915 Panama Pacific international Exposition in San Francisco. His slogan during the exposition was “wear a tourmaline for luck”. Schuyler also sold and presented other specimens that he had extracted from the Tourmaline King Mine in San Diego County at the exposition.

Robert Max Wilke, a California mineral dealer, purchased the patent grant deed from Schuyler in 1916 for rights to the Tourmaline King Mine so he could work it himself. This purchase by Wilke is the end of Schuyler’s involvement with the Tourmaline King Mine. Wilke went on to discover large amounts of lepidolite, morganite, tourmaline and kunzite at the mine. Wilke eventually abandoned the Tourmaline King Mine in 1922.

photograph of the steamboat tourmaline on display
photograph taken by Chris Stefano at the Smithsonian

The amazing Steamboat Tourmaline is housed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. The Steamboat Tourmaline is one of the best tourmaline specimens from the Tourmaline King Mine in San Diego, California.

Related posts:

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)

Related posts:

Our Top 10 Favorite Mineral/Rock/Gem Memes

While the old definition of “Meme” would simply imply a behavior learned from cultural or non-family social interaction, the standard for “Meme” now is these humorous photos. Memes start when someone takes a photo, puts some words on it and posts it online. With enough approval, blanks are requested so that the public can start producing their own. The one unfortunate aspect of this is memes becoming too popular and being generated by people who do not have the aptitude to CREATE, leading to some very poor examples floating around on the internet.

Minerals have been the subject of these online jokes since nearly the beginning of their production. As terrible b/tards, tumblr uses and redditors, we have seen and collected dozens of mineral themed memes over the past few years and now we want to share them with you!

And now, onto…

#10 – Brace Yourself – The Mineral Posts are coming

Game of Thrones Meme for Minerals

This meme comes from the HBO show, Game of Thrones,
with Ned Stark saying his legendary line…”Brace Yourself, Winter is coming”, denoting the approaching LONG seasonal change in that fantasy world, which can last for a decade or more. In Memespeak, these are created when a meme goes viral, someone will inevitably produce Ned warning the audience that soon there will be a flood of that meme, most, poorly produced.

#9 – TheOatmeal.com – “We Require More Minerals!”

TheOatmeal Starcraft Meme for Minerals

Starcraft is a great game by Blizzard and while it has a huge fan following, South Korea is well known as the country with the most rabid players. While the South Koreans are plugging away at their computers looking for pixelated crystals, in North Korea, minerals are a more serious business! Created by the great comic creator, TheOatmeal.com

#8 – Halite Makes Me Hot

Models for Minerals

A favorite of online mineral memes is the paring of a mineral with a model and “quoting” the model telling the audience how incredibly turned on they are by a ugly rock. One of the misnomers about mineral collecting is that it is a bunch of old crusty men, when in reality there are, my god, WOMEN that collect minerals! Not only are they…Female…many of them are BEAUTIFUL women! Gasp! This is one of our favorites, because we can’t think of anyone who comes away from the halite filled brine pools thinking about anything besides getting a shower and lunch.

#7 – Disregard Marie, Acquire Minerals – Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad Hank Meme

A Meme within a meme within a meme, hey we have a meme to specifically make fun of that, but let’s focus on THIS one, which is, for our non-USA viewers or those who are not familiar with the excellent AMC Drama, Breaking Bad.
In the show, DEA agent Hank is shot and needs a lot of recouping time, bedridden he starts to obsess over minerals, buying them from various websites, including the one mentioned on the show, mineralemporium.com, which of course, takes you to Breaking Bad’s website. On top of that, this meme is a tribute to the Joseph Ducreux portrait, which traditionally says “Disregard Bitches, Acquire Money.”
Now, one of the funny things for Non-US visitors is that we wonder if the plot of Breaking Bad makes any sense…A School Teacher, who is poorly paid, gets cancer and is told that treatments are going to leave the family destitute. In hopes to pay for his medical treatment, he starts cooking methamphetamine. We would think in any real civilized society, someone shouldn’t have to worry about their family being torn apart by medical expenses. That’s a truly American way of life! Go USA!

#6 – Phillip J. Fry – Futurama – Not Sure if…

Futurama for Minerals

We would like to think the writers at Futurama would approve of this meme, the standard Phillip J. Fry “Not Sure if x or y” meme, done for the appreciation of minerals. There are hundreds, nay, might I guess THOUSANDS of stoners getting lost inside a quartz crystal or aragonite cluster, maybe even RIGHT THIS MOMENT! Put down the bong, son, Minerals are cool, even when not high.

#5 – Holy Shit – This Rock is PERFECT!

Found the perfect rock for my collection

There is a positive way to look at that face planting that is about to occur. Makes my face hurt…and makes me wonder…is it a quartz crystal? We hope so!

#4 – Bismuth

Bismuth Meme

The internet has a hardon for Bismuth. Lab grown Bismuth crystals are shared with reckless abandon, so this great meme, featuring a NATURAL BISMUTH crystal, a winner in our books!

#3 – Bill Larson, your argument is invalid

Invalid Meme

The meme that is dedicated to the form “This is x, your argument is invalid” where X is a something completely random and pointless, used as a tactic to make distracting point in a dispute to which you have no good retort. At an annual Tucson party celebrating the TGMS, a wild iguana appeared, coupled with countless bottles of wine, several people posed with the reptile. When it took to Pala Minerals owner “Burma Bill” Larson, a man with more untold mineral stories than you might ever hope to acquire over a lifetime, the flashes went off all over the place and as soon as an image was posted online, this meme was created.

#2 – Gave that Bitch a Crystal, Bitches love Crystals – MineralClassics’ founder Richard Kosnar and the legendary phosphophyllite.

Richard Kosnar Phosphophyllite Meme

Brian Kosnar showed me this meme that was created with a famous photo of the standard smiling face of his dad, Richard Kosnar. In his hands, the ultimate phosphophyllite. The meme? Based on a line from the TV show “The Boondocks” where the rich, violent whiteboy gangster styled after another dimensions’ George Bush Jr, saying, while texting a woman “Hold Up, I’m gonna send this bitch a smiley face. Bitches love smiley faces.”. Thus, the “I’m going to give this X a Y, X’s love Ys.” You can find wonderful minerals from Bolivia (where this crystal comes from), colorado and more at the website www.minclassics.com

And, finally, the Meme we believe might have been the first…

#1 – Out of nowhere…Feldspar!

Feldspar Meme

What could have been the first mineral meme, and surely, one of the most popular…”Out of Nowhere…It’s X” where X is the thing in the picture, in this case…two nice feldspar crystals.

There you have it, our Top 10 Mineral/Rock themed Memes! We certainly had MORE to share, but these were our favorites around the office. Hope you enjoyed it!

Related posts:

Gem and Mineral Clubs across the United States need YOU!

Love to collect gems and minerals?
Then you have to join a Gem and Mineral Club. Mineral Clubs are a great resource for anyone interested in mineral collecting.
One of the problems with Gem Clubs is that many new members feel that it is not a good fit for them. They may feel uncomfortable in the new environment or feel that you are being forced into a job with the club. Not every meeting will feel like this, and it may even become an invaluable club that you enjoy attending. Here are my three tips to find a Gem and Mineral Club and have a blast dong it.

1. The secret is to just keep going. It gets better.

Since the world of rocks and minerals is very vast and varied, there are going to be times when the club will talk about something that is totally unrelated or interested to your interests. For example, during my first meeting the members discussed the jewels that were worn by the first ladies. If I had quit attending the club because I did not know anyone or care about the gems of the past president’s wives, I would not eventually become the field trip leader for the group. In fact, sticking with the club, I eventually made several life long friendships and met several digging partners. I cut my first cabochons, served as the show chairman for their annual gem show and learned quite a bit about how mineral clubs worked.

2. You aren’t intruding.

With the next club I went to join, the atmosphere was harder to break through. This club was a group whose members were much more educated about the topic of mineralogy. Talk about intimidating! Myself and other new members felt as if they were intruding on a private gem club meeting. It took several visits to this club before any member would say more than a handful of words to me. It simply took holding my ground and visiting over and over again before many members started opening up to me. In that club I met several people who were legendary in the regional mineral world, curators, teachers, speakers and miners. Within a year I was serving as their show chairman for two years, serving on the board of directors of a non-profit and learning even more about this hobby of mineral collecting. If I had been scared away by this group, I would not have taken my hobby and collecting to the next step.

Presentation at a Gem Club
3. Find a club that fits you.

Each mineral club meeting is going to be different depending on the members and the location. Try out a few in your area to find one that really clicks with you.

Most clubs have a neat welcome for new visitors, where they will let you select a rock from the visitor rock box, which can make it all worthwhile! Some clubs have great field trip leaders and help you find out about local collecting areas. Many clubs have lapidary workshops and have classes teaching basic lapidary skills, such as cutting slabs, making a cabochon or setting a stone into jewelry.
In the end, if you want to get more involved with your collecting, a Gem and Mineral Club is the perfect spot to do so. Many of the clubs love new members and will even welcome their help with various rolls within the club. Most importantly, if you visit a mineral club and do not see people of your age group, your skill level, your passion for the craft, just keep going!

Mineral Clubs instill a feeling of required civil service to promote our hobby
I highly suggest The-Vug.com’s List of Gem and Mineral Clubs across the United States to find out about clubs near you.
Take a look at their page at http://www.the-vug.com/vug/vugclubs.html

Rock Club People are full of information

A Presentation at a Mineral Club

Related posts:

2012 Christmas Gifts: Ideas for the Rockhounds in your life!

Gift giving season is officially upon us and for the RockHounds in your life, we made this list of our top 10 suggestions for gifts this year! From stocking stuffers to the item that will make a certain someone squeal with joy, everyone in the office had our eyes set on a few of these items.

#10. Mindat.org Sticker Book – A few years ago Mindat.org published this cute stickerbook and the sticker sets were somewhat difficult to put together. The 10 sticker set is fun, one sticker for each number on mohs hardness scale. For $8.00, these are fun stocking stuffers for kids and adults!

Mindat.org Sticker Book

#9 Colored Mineral Tack – We love this idea, tinted mineral tack. One of the best ways to stabilize a specimen for display, the goal of using mineral tack is to hide it from view. The stark white color makes this task difficult, but these tinted tacks can be a close match for the matrix or crystal color, allowing you to not worry as much about the white tack being the thing distracting from your crystals. In little lumps of colored tack at $1.49 each, you could visit this eBay store and select a few colors and make a set. Every mineral collector NEEDS mineral tack, you can’t go wrong with giving a rockhound mineral tack!

Colored Mineral Tack

#8 The Mineral Art of Hildegard Konighofer – Hildegard Konighofer’s art is shockingly realistic, capturing the spirit of each crystal she paints. This book features dozens of her paintings, which feature a wide array of selections and locations. A beautiful way to cross the worlds of art and minerals together, these limited edition books are sure to be a long treasured item for any mineral collector. Available from Blue Cap Productions for $170.00

Hildegard Konighofer

Hildegard Konighofer
#7 A Rock Tumbler – Rock tumbling is a wonderful way to get something done with all the rock chunks pouring out of every knapsack and cardboard flat in garages of rockhounds around the world. Everyone, seriously, everyone, can use a rock tumbler! This website, RockTumbler.com, has everything you need to know about selecting a unit, and this Lortone is the perfect universal size and under $100!

RockTumbler.com most popular rock tumbler the Lortone Model 3a

#6 Cuprite T-shirt – If Copper is wrong, I don’t wanna be Cuprite. A funny pun that will be highly appreciated at any mineral club meeting, collecting trip, mineral show or geology class! Available in Small through Double Extra Large, this is a great christmas gift idea, available for under $20 shipped, fortysevenpress.com

Mineral Pun T-shirts
#5 Arkansas Diamond Combo – Diamonds! There is only ONE public diamond mine in the world and it is in the tourist friendly section of the rural south, Murfreesboro Arkansas. For a nominal fee you can visit the park and try your luck at finding a diamond. The Blue Cap Productions combo pack includes two DVDs, hosted by Glenn Worthington, one of young mineral collectors searching for diamonds, the other a professional video tour of the area. Everything you need to know about collecting at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is found between these two items! Over $10.00 off the retail price, both DVDs for $32.99

DVD set Find your own Diamonds in Arkansas
#4 Magazine Collection/Vug Book – For the book collector that has it all, we can certifiably say that they do not have a full set of The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine. These sets were HARD to put together, as some of them were only available in Europe, some of them had very small print runs and they were all distributed around the world at different mineral shows. The publisher has made a few complete sets available, but it might be a wise option to buy the full reprint book instead. The magazine (and book) have tons of beautiful photos, articles, maps and information. Any rockhound would love to get this book as a gift! The Original Magazine set is $229.99, the book reprint of the entire series is $34.95

Mineral Website Magazine Book Reprint
#3 All in One polisher – The classic, workhorse all in one flat lap. The perfect item for so many various uses for the rockhound, from grinding matrix, making things display better, polishing cabochons, making freeforms, putting a window on an agate, polishing a face on a quartz crystal, the all in one flat lap is a great gift item for the rockhound in your life! A model like this one, with a series of different grit wheels, runs around $549.99 new. They hold their resale value for many years.

Ameritool All in One Universal Grinder
#2 Blue Cap DVD Sets – Blue Cap Productions produces these fantastic, high quality, in-depth videos of minerals, mineral shows and subjects related to the hobby. I have been witness to what happens when these DVDs are played in a room of mineral collectors…silence. Everyone is so fixed on the screen, looking at the beautiful crystals being presented. These DVDS are awesome, you can put them on anytime, you learn by experiencing all these minerals shown by the people who know them best! Blue Cap productions has these sets of DVDs, one that has all of the What’s Hot in Tucson DVD’s and the other has EVERY DVD produced by Blue Cap, with some great topics! We highly recommend these. $145.00 for the What’s Hot in Tucson Set and $315.00 for the whole production line, the most complete documentary of mineral collecting in the last decade.

What's Hot in Tucson DVD Package

Complete Blue Cap Productions DVD Set
#1 Best sized Sledge Ever – 12 pound short handle – You can NEVER, EVER, have too many short handled sledge hammers. If the rockhound in your life has never had one of these short handled sledges, they are in need of this eye opening experience. The short handle allows for higher accuracy and the ability to work in a tight situation. Short handles fit into your knapsack with ease, better than trying to haul that long handled sledge on a hike. At $34.95, these are a great gift item for your favorite rockhound!

Short Handled Sledge Hammer

And of course, rocks rocks rocks! Everyone loves rocks! Quartz Crystals, Kyanite, Tourmaline, Garnets, you can never go wrong with some rocks for the rockhounds in your life! We suggest checking out Jewels Fine Minerals on eBay, you can not go wrong with any single item in that entire selection. That dealer ships quickly and is worth checking out.

Related posts: