Author Topic: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area  (Read 194 times)

RockNRockNRoll

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Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« on: August 27, 2018, 07:25:46 PM »
Hey all, I am new here and new to the rockhounding world.  My kids have recently gotten into rock collecting, which fits in wonderfully with my fascination with ghost towns and Nevada's mining history.  We have done some digging here in the Las Vegas area, and made a trip early in the summer through Tonopah, Middlegate and Austin.  This coming weekend we are going to Ely / Garnet Hill and then through Austin on our way to Mt. Wonderstone. 

I have reviewed the rules and dont want to get anyone in trouble, but I am looking for help in finding some sites for the blues (agate / chalcedony) as well as the green / purple / blue flourite.  I understand both can be found in the Austin area.  I have found some beautiful photos online but I am struggling to find specific sites.  If anyone is willing to PM me with some details I would be most grateful.   

AGAIN, DONT POST SPECIFICS TO SITES HERE.  Thanks!!! 

Oxenkiller

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2018, 07:45:49 AM »
With questions like this, I always tell people to start with the guide book "Rockhounding Nevada" by William Koepelle (I think I spelled his name right.)  That book lists several sites in the Austin area.  However, it is only a start:  A lot of the sites, once published, get cleaned out pretty quickly.  Then I would do some more sleuthing:  Stop in town, drop into a local rock shop if there is one (or a general store or bar, is there is not) and ask around.  Browse topographic maps and see where old mines are, or scan Google Earth, and then investigate- that's another avenue.  You might ask the locals in town if any of these mines are active or "No trespassing" zones to save you some trouble.

 I believe there was someone else asking about the Austin area on this site just a few months ago, you might look up that thread (it'd be a few pages back.)

RockNRockNRoll

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2018, 08:39:55 AM »
Thank you.  We have been using that book for the past several months, and hit some of the listed spots in Tonopah and near Gabbs with some nice success -- lots of agate and obsidian in Tonopah and some beautiful jasper near Gabbs.  However, not much luck with the sites in the book in the Austin area.  Site 67 was fruitless, and my daughter was disappointed that we didnt find any opalite, but I was finally able to see Stokes Castle so still an awesome trip. 

Thanks for the tips.  We will be hitting Austin on Sunday so I fear many of the rock shops will be closed, but I am going to make some phone calls this week.  There are a few rock shops in Austin, and during our last trip through all the shops were closed but we stopped to eat and everyone we encountered was incredibly friendly.  I also recently ordered the Gem Trails book, and downloaded and have been studying the NBMG map, so I am hopeful that those three resources plus whatever I can glean through my phone calls will yield more success.  At a minimum, we will take our best shot or two and then spend more time at Wonderstone Mountain.  And maybe stop at Belmont on the way home, which is one of my favorite ghost towns.     

Other than Rockhounding Nevada and the Gem Trails books, are there any other Nevada-specific resources anyone could recommend to a newbie?  We have a number of general books on minerals and gems for identification purposes, but I am looking for more resources with trails / sites.  I love your suggestions, but it is tougher when I have a 7 and 8 year old with me -- I am not able to hike for as long or as far as I would if I were solo.  Perhaps my answer is to take a solo adventure and do some scouting!! 

I love the central Nevada area and cannot recommend it highly enough.  While my rockhounding knowledge of the area is minimal, the scenery is gorgeous and the history is fascinating.  If anyone is curious, check out the book Sazerac Liars Club.  It was published in the late 1800s by a newspaper editor in Austin and contains tall tales collected from miners and mountain men.  Very Mark Twain-esque in style and humor. 

Sorry, I am rambling, I am excited for our adventure this coming weekend. 

One last question -- what is the consensus opinion on the "pay to play" opal mines in northern Nevada?  I am considering a trip but I have heard conflicting information. 

Cheers!   

Oxenkiller

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2018, 12:00:58 PM »
I've only been to the Virgin Valley area once, and I think it was the Royal Peacock.  It's really hit or miss and (much like Nevada's number one pastime) it's all a matter of luck.

I personally spent $150 to dig from the wall, sat there and dug all afternoon, and came away with only a few tiny chips to show for my efforts.  Others, well, they might find a specimen worth hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on their very first swing of the pick.  So it's all luck, and I wish I could tell you the odds of actually finding that desirable piece, but all I can say is it's by no means a sure thing, and by no means certain you will get skunked either.

As far as the Austin area, I can't help you because I know next to nothing about that area. I've just never been there.  Your approach sounds right on though- just scout it out, and hopefully you will find something cool out there. If and when you do, by all means let us know and post your finds!

HeySal

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2018, 01:43:01 PM »
R&R&R -- do you live in NV?  I lived in Silver springs twice for around a year and love hunting there still.  I could probably arrange a meet with ya sometime if you're there and able to travel whenever I can.  My health is poop right now so I don't go anywhere that takes a lot of footwork for the time being, but I know where the rocks are in many places so can do a drive up with no problems.   You can pm me to talk about it if it sounds like you might like to do this. 
Sal

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RockNRockNRoll

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2018, 02:04:08 PM »
Hi Sal.  Yes, I am in Vegas.  But like most people who live here, one of my favorite pastimes is leaving town!  Ha. 

I am definitely interested, I will send you a PM.  Thanks!

RockNRockNRoll

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2018, 02:57:23 PM »
We had a great trip, thank you both for your suggestions.  We found a handful of decent garnets at Garnet Hill, some nice pieces of Mt Airy blue outside Austin, and filled a bucket with wonderstone in Fallon.  We also lucked out and were able to enjoy the bi-annual all you can eat BBQ at Middlegate Station which is by far one of my favorite roadstops in the country. 

On our way home we stopped at Gem Field outside of Goldfield on a whim, I didnt have high expectations going in but I was absolutely blown away -- there is a lot of beautiful agate / jaspagate (I think its debatable, and I am not quite certain what it is exactly) with gorgeous banding in a myriad of colors such as light blues, purples, pinks and greens.  I will try to post some photos soon.  I know there has been some discussion of this spot in other posts, I cant recommend it enough.  I will be going back soon so I can be a bit more picky, we were tired from the trip and didnt spend nearly enough time here.     

I will try to post photos soon.  I have some of the Gem Field material in my new 12 lb tumbler and cant wait to see how it turns out.   

Any tips on how to clean up the Mt Airy blue?  Many of the pieces are covered in lime / calcite.  I have already tried vinegar and a short period in the small 3 lb tumbler, per some online suggestions I found, but neither method did much.  Based on my research so far it appears muriatic acid is next, but I realize that for at least some of the stones the calcite is likely holding it all together.  I may experiment with a few pieces over the weekend, this stuff is gorgeous and I dont want to ruin it!  I am good on the safety / not dying tips, but any suggestions as to timing of the acid bath or other things I am probably not even aware of would be helpful.  Or if you are aware of an online resource on this, that would be great too.  Thanks!   

lizziebird

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2018, 03:09:22 AM »
It's been a few years now, but my family did the Rainbow Ridge opal mine in Virgin Valley NV.  It was great.  The folks there were really nice, friendly, helpful.  I have 2 kids and we spent most of a day digging through the tailings.  While we were there, they had 3 or 4 groups doing the "virgin ground loads" and we saw some of the stuff they pulled out.  One load had a bunch of amazing material, another load was pretty disappointing.  The others were somewhere in between.  So yes, it's hit or miss, as with any rock mining.  We were happy with what we pulled from the tailings.  Nothing amazing,but we each found several nice smallish pieces with fire, and my kids both really enjoyed it.  We camped at the free campground down the road, swam in the warm spring pond, and walked around the area picking up interesting rocks. 

clikrf8

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Re: Looking for some help in the Austin NV area
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2018, 11:50:37 PM »
We were in Nevada in October around Tonopah. We did actually find some nice chalcedony nearby that was in the book. We also drove up to Ralston, a ghost town and found what the author described as distorted Chalcedony that appeared as if it went through a torture chamber. We also stopped at Gemfield and found some nice bullseye that was scattered on the road. We brought some hammers but neglected to bring goggles so didnít do any chipping. We took a backway out and almost lost the road. We spent the night and were awakened by burros.

One of our best finds was when we were looking for a road into a gravel pit. We stopped and wow, along the road was some cool bubbly white agates, some that had druzy in the hollows.  We found several fistsuzed ones. We plan to return in April or May. We have a truck camper so we like to Boondock in gravel Pits.