Rockshops – Where To Find them!

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is visit different rock shops across the world. Rock shops have been a staple around major urban centers and desolate outposts near rock hounding and mining areas that are specimen rich. Each rock shop has something interesting to offer and you never know what treasures you can find inside. I’m not simply talking about rocks, but the people who own and operate the rock shops. The owners are typically colorful people who can be a wealth of information. In fact, when I am in an area and want to go rockhounding, store owners can be way more useful than any field guide!

One would think, with many mining areas that produced plentiful specimens being closed down, the odds are, many of those shops would also start to go to the wayside, however, in this new economy, the rock shops are enjoying a second life, with more people looking towards the lapidary arts and the study and appreciation of natural history. Arts and Crafts are having a new life and while the natural ebb and flow of the world’s premier economy might lead to fluctuations in the “fine mineral world” of specimens that cost more than most cars, there is always a market for inexpensive minerals, tools, books and educational material, found in most every rock shop.

Everything you need for mining and rockhounding!

Everything you need for mining and rockhounding!

Mining Tools

Mining Tools

Just recently I heard about a gold mining shop that was sold to a couple rockhounds who had big plans for a remodeling of the shop. Located just above the Los Angeles area, in Hesperia California, just an exit off highway 15, Mining Supplies and Rock Shop

I had the chance to visit them before the grand opening and it is so exciting what the owners, Cyndy and Lisa, are doing with the place! It is like a wonderland for rockhounds of all ages!

In the front of the store, you can find a store filled with lovely crystal specimens, tumbled stones, sea shells, books and magazines, gold mining equipment, lapidary equipment, gift items, jewelry, and so much more. Fossils and petrified wood, beautiful amethyst sprays, freeform polished ocean jasper, just a wonderful array of colorful crystals! You can even find educational gift items for kids, like Cut That Agate’s popular “Gem Hunt”.

Lots of fun crystals and fossils to chose from!

Lots of fun crystals and fossils to chose from!

In the back warehouse, there is a sight that will ignite a spark in anyone interested in lapidary! Rock saws, grinders, sphere making machines, flat laps and a world of lapidary rough! We are talking TONNAGE of agates, jaspers, and assorted lapidary material, all at great prices. The warehouse is being set up in a way that will allow them to give classes on all sorts of lapidary arts.

Shelves full of lapidary rough await you!

Shelves full of lapidary rough await you! These are just being stocked, a week before opening!

If you have the chance, stop by and visit Cyndy and Lisa, or one of there wonderful helpers and check out the store, as it is a perfect model of rockhounding paradise!

So many saws, grinders and polishing units are being set up and primed for all the great lapidary classes that will be offered.

So many saws, grinders and polishing units are being set up and primed for all the great lapidary classes that will be offered.

Saturday Feburary 6th 2016, from 1-4pm, will be the grand opening celebration. Door Prizes, Food, and new friends to make, it will certainly be worth attending! Hope to see you there, if not then, someday down the road! – Visit them at 9565 C Avenue, Suite K
Hesperia, CA 92345 Wednesday – Saturday

Cyndy talking to two customers looking forward to signing up for some lapidary classes

Cyndy talking to two customers looking forward to signing up for some lapidary classes

Find your Rockhound a Valentine's Day Gift that will not wither and die in a week!

Find your Rockhound a Valentine’s Day Gift that will not wither and die in a week!

To find a local rock shop in your area, or on your travels, I highly suggest checking Yelp, as they have listings for more rock shops across the united states.

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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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