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Topics - Oxenkiller

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Those "Lost Dutchman" type of collecting sites
« on: October 19, 2019, 07:21:46 PM »
Has anyone ever heard rumors of collecting sites or localities, where fabulous specimens have allegedly been collected or pulled out of the ground, but which don't seem to actually exist- or at least, cannot be found?

Here in Idaho, you hear all kinds of rumors about this material being found here, or that being found there, but typically, when you go look... it doesn't pan out.

For example, the aquamarines that came out of Centerville.  Centerville is a rural area about 45 miles north of Boise, and it's not really a "town" in any sense- just a few summer cabins, a fire station, and a few old mining remains.  There have been persistant rumors for years of aquamarines being dug a few miles north of the settlement, and stories and pictures of these so-called Centerville aquamarine specimens are legendary. 

But the site may not have ever existed.  I have read that these crystals were most likely harvested in the Sawtooth Mountains, but the prospector invented the "Centerville" site as a cover, since there are regulations against crystal hunting in the Sawtooths.  But then a couple other people have sworn that there was a real dig site up at Centerville, but that it has either been exhausted, or is now tied up in gold mining claims.  When I went up there and investigated, I talked to a couple gold prospectors, and they said that they had heard rumors of gemstone mining up in that area; but everything was now claimed for gold- and they highly advised that casual rockhounds NOT go digging around up in that area, as some of the gold claims are violently protected.

Another "Lost Dutchman" type of site I have heard of is a place for gorgeous gold-yellow Barite crystals up near Mount Borah- allegedly on the northern slopes, near a place called Freighter Springs.  The crystals just aren't there. (So don't worry about me posting directions on here, as I'm only telling people where they are NOT.)  I have spent at least four afternoons- and four overnight trips to east-central Idaho- hiking all over that area, and there is just nothing there.  There IS a Barite crystal site that I know about maybe 20 miles to the west, but those crystals are pure white, opaque, and not terribly interesting.  So maybe the "Freighter Springs/Mount Borah" crystals came from somewhere closer to where my white ones came from.  But I have seen several gold Barite crystals labeled as coming from the Mount Borah area, so the myth persists- maybe they weren't even from Idaho at all; perhaps they are confused with a site from Nevada, as a lot of barite crystals are mined there.

So, do you guys have any other tales of lost/mythical rockhound sites that you have heard of (that may or may not, or probably don't, or never did exist?)

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Thunderegg days in Nyssa Oregon this weekend.
« on: July 11, 2019, 07:52:29 AM »
Anyone going?

You can usually score some pretty good rock- both rough and slabs, and some good deals on specimens and crystals, too. 
It starts today and goes through Saturday- I plan on swinging by Sat. afternoon.

For those living outside the eastern Oregon/western Idaho area, Nyssa is on the far eastern edge of Oregon about an hour from Boise and maybe six hours from Bend.  There are also good collecting areas in the general vicinity that are still "off the books."

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Does anyone ever come across this stuff in their field collecting?  And do they ever do anything with it?

Ever so often, I come across deposits of this stuff.  It is the lowest of low grade petrified wood, usually bleached white, super soft, and with the structure of the original wood very degraded.  Oftentimes, it is found in those ash deposits- you know; the soft white soil that sometimes erodes into those weird looking column-like formations.  Sometimes the center will be silicified into a really brittle dark brown glass-like substance; probably some kind of common opal or hydrated silica deposit.  In very rare cases it will be light brown and/or white and somewhat attractive, though still brittle as heck. 

So is this type of wood even worth picking up?  I came across a couple good-sized pieces of it today out in the field, and I just junked 'em both as leaverites.  I tend to prefer petrified wood that is harder, more colorful or shows more of the original wood grain structure.

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Whats everyone been doing lately?
« on: April 22, 2019, 12:56:23 PM »
Anyone have any big rock hunting trips planned?

I'm going to hit up my usual haunts soon, now that it's finally getting nice, and I have a couple of future potential sites to explore once the snow melts off the higher elevations.  I REALLY want to get back to the Challis area soon.

Its been almost a month since anyone posted anything so I've been wondering whats going on.

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Follow-up: Idaho Sapphires
« on: September 16, 2018, 04:15:03 PM »
A while back someone posted something about finding and digging Idaho sapphires up in the McCall area.  I thought I would give it a shot, the possibility of finding something cool like that is always intriguing, so I drove up there.  The old dig site isn't that hard to find; I can't say exactly where it is other than it is in the general area just northwest of McCall, and not too far off the road.

But the thing is, just digging around up there with a screen, pick, and shovel, like I did, is all but useless- you just won't find anything that way.  What needs to happen, and which would actually be really really cool, is if someone were to operate a fee dig site here, and run an excavator and a series of sluices, not unlike what they do up at Emerald Creek at the star garnet dig site.  Or like, the Dust Devil sunstone mine and I believe the Montana sapphire mines work this way too.  Because I think you would need to dig really deep, probably around ten feet down to bedrock, to find the pay dirt in the placer deposits here, and (unless you have weeks of free time at your disposal) I can't see that being possible without heavy machinery.

So anyway, yeah I know those gems are there, but to get at them, you gotta have machinery and a whole mining set-up, and hopefully someone with some enterperneurial spirit and the cash to do it can come along and set up something like this for rockhounds like us someday.   But needless to say, well, it was a nice drive to McCall, today if nothing else.

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Finally got out for a bit
« on: August 26, 2018, 08:40:21 AM »
 I went out yesterday over to the Succor Creek area and poked around at some new areas, just took off on some new roads.

Stuff isn't plentiful out there, it's been my experience that aside from one or two "known" spots, you typically just stumble across stuff really sporadically.  The Succor Creek agate can be pretty nice though if you get a good piece.  It is typically pale bluish white (yellow and white can be found though less commonly) with straight horizontal bands, not too colorful or "wild" lacey patterns like for example Mexican agate- just straight bands, but some of it can be pretty nice in its own way.  I didn't get a "big haul" but like usual, I did pick up a couple decent pieces of the bluish white banded, and got one really nice rounded cobble of the yellow.  Neither of these were in a large agate deposit, rather, they were just in random places on the ground, one near a dry stream bed, the other on a hillside. 

Oh and I nearly got stuck trying to climb a particularly nasty stretch of "road," on a section with ruts as deep as the car tires.  The car got high centered and it was all I could do to wriggle it out of there in one piece.  I didn't make it any further up that road, needless to say.  Safety tip:  Know the limits of your vehicle and don't push your luck. 

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / So there's this guy in McDermitt...
« on: August 20, 2018, 01:58:25 PM »
So there's this guy in McDermitt, Nevada, I think he said his name was Aaron but I can't remember for sure.  Anyway, he was an old miner, prospector guy who has mined (among other things):  Thundereggs the size of basketballs, Morrisonite from way back in the day, and two varieties of gorgeous blueish green jaspers called Ellipso and Gary Green.

And he had all of this stuff, and much, much more, piled in bins in his yard and around his shop, just a few blocks east of the highway.  And all of it was for sale.  And most of it was local too.  I've poked around the McDermitt area a bit in the past, and I know there is a lot of cool stuff out that way, but it's largely a mystery to me as far as where the "hot spots" are out there.  But I do know that this relatively new shop, along with Joe "White Buffalo" Van Eeten's spot right up the road (which is still open as well, last I checked), is making McDermitt sound like quite the rock collecting mecca lately.  I'd been out of California the last couple weeks and hadn't really been doing much collecting, but as I roared through town, I saw this guy's shop open and just had to drop in and buy some stuff.

I've heard the blue/green stuff is getting kind of rare; the dude said he had to dig pretty far down with an excavator to get to it, and its a patented claim (so it's all no trespassing and what not) but there is plenty of awesome looking stuff around there you CAN still find on open land, apparently.

Either way, it's worth stopping by there if you are ever out that way.  If I had more time, I would have done a little more searching of my own in the wide spaces outside town. 

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« on: May 07, 2018, 08:02:54 AM »
With a lot of people requesting specific hunting tips, relating to certain specific areas, I was wondering if people would be willing to share generalized hunting tips- that is, tips about finding material that could apply to anywhere. 

I always start with the guidebooks, but those are only a starting place.  The key is to start there and move to areas that are "off the books." Which involves scouting topo maps, landowner status, road atlases, and so on, then a lot of hiking around- and sometimes this is fruitless, sometimes it is productive.

I have chased a lot of "leads" and tips over the years that have proven to be fruitless- they either led to nothing, or to private property, or to an area that has long since been cleaned out. It's all part of the hunt.  Sometimes I have found unexpected prizes- Once, chasing down a tip for thundereggs, I didn't find any thundereggs, but I did find some really nice plates of honey colored calcite crystals that made great display pieces.

The more I have collected in the field over the years, the more I have learned about the basics of geology- and this has helped me in my search for material.  In other words, learning about the types of environments that things can be found, especially when you see them in the field.

For example, I know that agates form in volcanic environments- in cracks, bubbles and fissures in basalt or rhyolite.  If you are in an area with a lot of basalt or rhyolite outcrops, there is a good potential for finding agate. 

Crystals form in pockets, or in pegmatite formations.  If you find rocks with large visible flakes of mica or large patches of white feldspar and massive quartz- there may be pockets nearby with quartz crystals, or the pegmatite itself may even contain interesting less-common minerals like garnet or black tourmaline.

Some old mining sites have interesting material- some of my best mineral and crystal finds have come from there.  The key is making sure these places are accessable and not actively being worked- some places will give you permission automatically, some will but you have to ask ahead of time, and some wont.

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ARTIFACT AND TREASURE HUNTING / Begin it where warm waters halt...
« on: April 14, 2018, 08:42:50 AM »
"...and take the canyon down."

Has any of you guys heard of this?  Some guy wrote a poem that he claims leads to a chest full of treasure that he hid somewhere, if you follow the clues correctly.  The consensus seems to be that it's somewhere in Yellowstone, although people have also claimed the clues lead to an area in New Mexico somewhere.  Myself, I'm a bit skeptical there is any actual monetary treasure, but it's an interesting story nonetheless.  I was wondering if anyone here has ever tried to follow the clues and look for this alleged chest.

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Some background, in 2016, two billionaires from Texas, Dan and Ferris Wilks, purchased two hundred thousand acres of land in Idaho- that's HUNDRED thousand acres.  Some of this land had been private all along, owned by large timber and cattle companies, but some of it had always been public national forest land.  And ALL of it, both NF and timber company land alike,  had been open to the public for hunting, biking, hiking- and (most importantly) rockhounding.  As soon as the Wilks family grabbed all this land, the "No Tresspassing" signs went up- everywhere.  Not just on the undeveloped and pristine forests, but even on the roads that passed through these forests- they had locked gates installed on what used to be (and technically still are) public roads. (Remember, a road is technically public right of way even if the land it crosses is not.)

Among the areas affected by this land grab was the quartz and epidote crystal dig area near Paddy Flat road near McCall, Idaho.
This site was not that well known publicly; although some rockhound literature listed a spot in the general area as being productive for quartz and topaz, the actual directions to the dig site itself were never published (not that this was a bad thing) and it was only after a couple trips, and with a LOT of luck, that I was able to find it.  The pale citrine quartz crystals were really nice but the epidote crystals were among the finest I have seen anywhere.  I never found topaz, although some sources say it occurred alluvially in the nearby streams. It is important to note that because this spot wasn't easy to find, few people came here to dig and consequently it never got trashed or cleaned out like so many other, more well known, rockhound sites.  So, in other words, there is nothing rockhounds could have done differently here to keep it open- the Wilks family has indiscriminally locked the public out of all 200,000 acres of their (and formerly our) land.

So the issue isn't necessarily whether the Wilks family had the right to post "no trespassing" signs on their own private Idaho, or even if, given the right to do so, it is the right thing to do.  Right or not, it must be stated that this is a controversial move that has righteously angered many people- remember we are talking hundreds of thousands of acres here that are shut down, not just one rockhounding spot.

Many people assume that our right of access to the outdoors, for rockhounding or other pursuits, are under attack from the liberal/democratic party wing of the country. And while I do not deny this is true to an extent, it must be said that the Wilks family were hard core republicans who donated millions to Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, and who wish to see ALL public land sold to private interests- and "No Tresspassing" signs covering every single last acre of public open space.  Remember Ted Cruz had campaigned to do this very exact thing.  And much of the Wilks ill-gotten gains were actually once public land- not all of it was private- they convinced the government to sell it to them.

If we want to continue to have public access to the outdoors, then we should continue to police ourselves- do the right thing, respect the land, be discreet with our locations just like the Paddy Flats Epidote/Quartz dig site, and do on.  But also, do what we can to fight against the powers to take our lands from us- whether liberal environmentalist bureaucrats, or conservative privatizing land-grabbing barons.

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / I DID go rockhounding today
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:13:09 PM »
Well it was yesterday actually. I'm just getting over being really sick and had to get out of the house. Today I watched auto racing...and remembered why I don't like watching auto racing anymore.  Football really wasn't any better; all the crap teams won and all the good teams lost.

So, I didn't feel like going super far or doing anything really strenuous so I stuck to one of my tried and true locations that are less than 2 hours away- the Marsing-Homedale foothills.  You can usually find SOMETHING there.  The key is, being selective about what you take:  There is only so much plain white chalcedony you can pick up before it all becomes leaverite to you and you don't want it anymore.  And as for the plume/moss agate from there- a lot of the best agate there doesn't look like much until you cut it, and conversely, a lot of what looks promising on the outside looks like crap on the inside.

But I did find an absolutely gorgeous orange and yellow banded agate that looks like nothing I have ever seen from there, and a couple other pieces look like they have huge cutting potential. Okay I already did cut one- and it reminded me of the car race (i.e. it sucked) - but the other four might be really good.

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So I'm thinking of heading to Central Oregon for a 3 day weekend of rockhound-related activities.

I've heard tales that in Madras this weekend, they have some special deal, this weekend only, where they will have guided trips to these private ranches for rock hunting tours, and you can find lots of agate, jasper, wood, etc that would otherwise be off limits.  But then I heard you have to kind of have "the right connections" so to speak, to get in on this.  Either way, if I can't get in on it (since I obviously don't have the right connections) I might do some hunting in the Ochoco/Prineville area and maybe even head back down to Plush.  I know some of you guys know more of the scoop down here (as far as cool hunting spots) than non-locals like me, but hopefully I will come away with something good at least.  There is some kind of big rock and gem show thing going on at Madras anyway, which I may swing by and hit up even if I can't get in on one of the official field trips.

Sounds like a lot of people are out and about this weekend. Hope to hear how the rest of you guys did and see some of your finds!

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Snow everywhere, and not a rock in sight.
« on: January 15, 2017, 02:12:49 PM »
I was wondering why this board is not too active lately, and while I can't speak for everyone, I can speak for myself- everything here is covered in eight to ten inches of snow- even the low-lying desert areas of southern Idaho and eastern Oregon.  It always snows in the winter- big woop- but it has been unusually cold and snowy this winter.  Is it like this everywhere else I wonder?  I have plenty of non-rockhouding related stuff to do that is fun and is keeping me busy but I'm still looking foreward to getting out again.  You can't even see any rocks now, they are all buried by snow.
The rock and gem shows start up in a couple months though...

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Has anyone ever come across an interesting pile of rocks while out hunting in the field- full of agate, jasper, wood, etc- and realized that the rocks were actually dumped there by someone else?

This has happened to me a couple times, and most recently, I was in the upper Succor Creek area and, near an old well and what appeared to have once been an old homestead, I saw this pile of interesting looking jasper, including this really nice porceleain light green, pink, and yellow which I had never seen in that area before. Mixed in with the usual Owyhee bluish-grey and tan colored chert which is more typical of that area.  I grabbed a couple pieces that looked cuttable, along with some smaller ones that will go into the tumbler, and set out to see if I could find a nearby source- when I realized some of the rocks had saw cuts on them.  And there were some others- the jasper looked more like Ridley's Willow Creek than Owyhee- that clearly were not from that area.

I still felt somewhat good that I got something to take home, polish up, and so on, but it wasn't the same satisfying feeling as truly finding something on your own- it was more like, picking through someone else's leftover pile.  Has something like this ever happened to any of you?

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ROCK AND GEM HUNTING / Nyssa Thunderegg Days
« on: July 03, 2016, 06:19:51 PM »
So, Nyssa Thunderegg Days is next weekend.  Or rather, next Thursday, Friday and Saturday- odd that they wouldn't just do it Friday through Sunday (because even in Nyssa, I would think most people have to work Thursday and Friday?) but whatever.  So I was thinking of going and checking it out; Nyssa is only about an hour from here.  The question is, is it worth going?  Do they have good stuff for sale, tips on collecting, and so on?  Whats it like?  I have heard that they do have guided field collecting trips, but they leave at practically the middle of the night, and even as it is, I have trouble getting up at 7 AM even on work days, let alone weekends (so that option probably wouldn't work.)

So, any of you guys been, and is it worth checking out from a rockhounding standpoint?

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