Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"It Was All In My Truck"

Gene has returned from his mining operation in Oregon! He brought with him a truckload of Regency Rose Plume Agate. Much of it is multicolored plume, some with very beautiful pinks possible. After unloading all of the rock pictured here, Gene chuckled, "that's it for the truck; now I've got to get the rock out of the camper." Gene will be grading and sorting the rock for the rest of the week -- and maybe part of next week too. "Many different types of agate are possible at Graveyard," Gene explained. He brought back some with pink plumes, yellow/gold and white plumes, some with black marcasite plumes in blue agate, and some with various colored agate and little to no plumes. "There is such a variety of rock in the deposit," Gene remarked, "but most people think there are only pink plumes." Some of these different agate variants will be inspected more closely in up-coming posts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

     Gene spent most of the day yesterday reclaiming the Beverly Marie claim. Essentially what is meant be the term reclaiming is: put things back where you found them. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) insists that small mineral miners leave their claim exactly as they found it -- except for the rock they mined out of the claim of course.
     Much of the Beverly Marie claim is underneath the road. As you can see from the picture, Gene and Jake had to "put everything back" and rebuild the road as well. This picture of the claim shows the rebuilt road. Notice towards the top left of picture the larger rocks just off the road; they mark the cave below. The image below is from June 4th for comparison.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Graveyard Point area is in an area classified as "high desert." The sage brush plant pictured above is the major -- if not only -- plant of the area. Usually its flowers are yellow. However, very rarely, purple flowers will bloom. What most people know as the "sage" spice comes from these purple-flowered plants. Jake discovered three of these plants this summer in the valley, and Gene is currently drying them in his truck. When the plants have dried, the leaves must be crushed, the stems pulled out, and the rest ground to produce sage spice. "I did this years ago at Morrisonite," Gene mentioned. "I brought the spice home and gave some to friends who were great cooks. They told me it was about four times as potent as store bought sage."

Monday, June 14, 2010

    Before closing up the agate cave, Gene had to climb in one more time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beyond The Horse

        The mining operation is nearing its end. Gene is chiseling the last of the agate mentioned below out of the host rock and will be returning the machine tomorrow -- or the next day. "Folks often ask about the amount of pink plume," Gene relates, "but the name of the agate, Regency Rose, does not suggest that." Puzzled, I asked him what the name would suggest. Gene explained that the name "Regency Rose" was originally given to the agate by Bill Tulman who mined the agate many years ago. He had named the rock for its many possible colors. One year he hit a deposit of good, pink-plumed agate. This discovery, combined with the suggestive word rose in the name of the agate, led many people to believe the rock was named for its pink plumes. "Our claim, the Beverly Marie -- named after Jake's wife -- rarely has pink plumes," Gene explains. "Pink plumes are maybe one percent of all of the good agate found at Graveyard Point."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Horse -- A Piece

Gene has struck gold -- well, pink and orange plume, anyway. "The rock in this area is pretty good," Gene muses, "some -- excellent." However, the hand chiseling in this area is not easy. The picture above shows what is known to miners who work load veins as a horse. A horse is a piece of host rock in the middle of the vein formation. This term generally  refers to a much larger geological formation: a large rock between stretches of the vein material. When such a rock is removed, two sections of the vein are exposed and can be easily appraised and removed. The chiseling around this horse in this case was especially difficult for two reasons: first, because there was agate all around it -- not just on two sides; and secondly, because the agate veins at Graveyard Point form in triangles. The agate here is not like a "straight" vein which will peel off of the wall. Gene must do much more careful hand work in this case. The picture below shows the horse removed and the additional handwork possible in two hours. The quality of the rock is better than expected, so Gene will be extending his mining venture until this agate is extracted.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Only Opal

Over the weekend while following a vein of agate, Gene discovered and area filled with white opal. Unfortunately, that is all it was -- white opal. There were small hints of agate surrounding the opal but none underneath it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

     Today it is raining at Graveyard Point. The soil is mostly bentonite and turns to grease, making the roads entirely impassable. Whenever it rains at Graveyard, the saying goes, you are only on the road when you're crossing it. So Gene and Jake must wait for the ground to dry up before they can continue mining.
     "But yesterday was good," said Gene. He and Jake had six visitors from California who had the opportunity to see the mine and hound through the operation's dump pile. Gene managed to get some work done around the cave, and found a promising vein of agate he plans to follow.
     More cave exploration was planned for today. The rock near the entrance of the cave does not look very good. "However," Gene reported, "there is good agate above the cave. I'm hoping it goes down the back wall of it." As soon as  the rain lets up, and the sun dries the mine -- at least a little -- Gene and Jake will be diving back in.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cave of Wonders

Gene and Jake have re-located and uncovered the agate cave they worked last year. "So far," Gene related, "the agate doesn't look very good, but we hope it opens up into a deep cavern of agate." He and Jake spent a good part of yesterday (Tuesday 6.1.2010) and will spend today exploring the contents of the cave. This photo is of Jake standing at the entrance to the cave. Below is an enlarged picture of the cave's entrance. More word as it comes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The machine has arrived at Graveyard Point.

Gene spent a good portion of Saturday May 29th "walking" the machine to the mine. Upon arrival at the mine, he and Jake began clearing rock away from the areas they plan to work -- many of the same areas they had covered up at the end of last year's mining operation (see our 2009 Graveyard Point Mining page). Let the excavation begin!

No Coffee?!

After hastily packing equipment and supples, Gene left for Oregon. His first day of driving, he traveled 600 miles, pulling over at a wayside in Nebraska to sleep in his trailer for the night. After all of that driving, he  sat down to brew the dark-brown fuel which keeps him and his adventures moving: coffee. Panic! Gene could not find the coffee pot! He rummaged around the camper, but could night find it in any of the logical places.  As Gene was doing this, he noticed a big storm coming. He ran out to the truck in the rain to find his back-up: the camp coffee pot. "Well," he thought, "at least I can have camp coffee."

Now what most miners do, is boil both the grounds and the water in at the same time. In fact miners like to see them boil together three times before they splash just a little more water in the pot to settle the grounds. Gene performed this ritual -- as he has many times before -- and relished his coffee. The next morning, while searching in the food pantry for breakfast, he found his percolater! Now Gene could enjoy whichever method of brewing coffee he wished -- and he, for sure, had coffee.
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