January 04, 2017
January 04, 2017
December 02, 2016
November 22, 2016
First of all I would like to say that my friend Jake is the best agate tracker, prospector, and miner I know. He is responsible for producing major portions of the Bruneau, Morrisonite, and Rocky Butte Jasper in the market. Many of the Jaspers in Hans Gamma’s book “Picture Jaspers from the Northwest” were named by him.
Ramshorn Mountain curves around a large basin draining to the South. There are 20 or so small canyons that drain into this basin. There are 8 or so canyons on the east side of the mountain and another 20 or so canyons on the west side. The north part of the mountain is basically inaccessible except by horse, and takes more than one day's time.
When Jake and I started looking for the deposit we considered all these things and decided to systematically inspect the canyons in the basin first. It was unlikely that the deposit was on the north or northwest side of the mountain considering that an eight-year-old boy was there. Not impossible just improbable. The only access we knew of at the time was from a road that crosses the creek draining from the basin located about 5 miles north of Horse Creek Campground. It was a good 2 mile hike from the road to the bottom edge of the basin. We inspected two canyons each day we were in the area together. Jake would go up one canyon, I would go up the next, and we would meet on the ridge in the middle and compare notes. We found agate casts and other things but not the plume agate. Jake had more time to look for the agate than I did so he inspected many of the canyons by himself.
After 4 years we gave up on the basin and started considering the south and southwest side of the mountain. We discovered another very bad four wheel drive road going up the slope on the southwest corner of the mountain. This road could be driven only when the weather was dry and was a challenge for any four wheel drive vehicle. The road ended much higher on the mountain next to a beautiful mountain lake. Jake spent considerable time up here driving his four-wheeler from Horse Creek Campground to the lake and then hiking from there. He found some wonderful casts, some with plumes, in the second and third Canyons on the West Side of the Mountain.
Six years after we started looking for the plume agate Jake decided to stay in the area a little longer (the Wiggins Fork area is only accessible in July and August). In early September he was up high on the west side of the mountain when a sudden snowstorm hit. It is dangerous to be on the mountain at ten to eleven thousand feet elevation in either rain or snow. He decided to get down off the mountain as fast as possible and took several shortcuts coming off the cliffs and much to his surprise walked right over the deposit. The deposit was less that 50 yards from the trail on the way out. In fact both of us had walked by the deposit several times in the previous several years.
One year later Jake and I looked over the deposit and made plans on how to dig the agate. The vein extends straight down into the slope of the steep hillside. As far as we can tell the van might be twenty yards long. Float agate extends down the ravine for a long ways. The following was considered: 1. Because of the difficulty in getting to the deposit only 3 to 4 hours of work is possible in a one day trip to the area; 2. The deposit is small and digging straight down into the hill will only produce a small amount of rock; 3. The agate is good enough that every effort should be made to get all the agate possible and not miss any in the process.
We decided to carefully dig the float from the drainage below all the way up the hill to the vein. Jake and I started digging a 10 foot wide section from the ravine directly below the center of the vein. We started finding agates right away. For years we have been working our way up the hill in the same 10-foot span on the hillside finding all the agate that has been eroded from the vein above for centuries. This process took great discipline especially on Jake's part. Spending so much time tracking down a deposit, finding it, and then not working the vein was very hard. Any work on the vein itself will bury agate deeper that has eroded out earlier and is buried below.
We have approached the production of this material in a very disciplined way. In the years Jake and I dug here, I estimate that we have produced a total of about 500 pounds of agate. I am confident that the float in the hillside 10 feet to the left and 10 feet to the right of where we dug will also produce a lot of agate. I am hesitant to define in more detail the exact location of the deposit although with the above information it should not be that hard to find. If by chance the reader of this article finds the deposit I would only ask that you follow our lead in the digging of the rock.
November 21, 2016
The Quartzsite show is just around the corner and those of you who are planning on visiting for the first time are in for an unusual experience. The Quartzsite show is a unique rock show as you never know what you might find there, (referring to all the shows as a group). The following is a story of Ramshorn Plume Agate and how the Quartzsite show adds to the richness of the lapidary world.
About 20 years ago my good friend Jake, Darroll Jacobitz, and I were walking around the Pow Wow in Quartzsite Arizona. We were both dealers in this show and we're taking a break walking around to see what we could find. We came across a young man selling small quantities of rock mostly from Wyoming. Jake and I noticed a box of slabs with a strong green outside that looked very similar to some of the vein agate and limb casts that Jake and I collect every year in the Wiggins Fork area of Wyoming. While the slabs looked similar to agate we collected at Wiggins Fork, it had beautiful gold plumes on a dark green bass with clear agate on top. We asked the young man if it was from Wiggins Fork and he said no. It was from Ramshorn Mountain.
Wiggins Fork and Ramshorn Mountain are part of the same mountain range that extends out of the southeast corner of Yellowstone Park. Agate veins of different types and limb casts can be found throughout this area. Ramshorn Mountain is directly north of Dubois Wyoming and the Wiggins Fork collecting area is further north at the junction of Wiggins and Frontier creeks. The agate found in these mountains is mostly found between the 9 and 10,000 foot level of elevation.The agate looked very nice so we continued to ask questions. It turns out that the agate was found by the young man's father while hunting and he was at the deposit several times when he was a boy between 8 and 12 years old. All of the rock he was selling came from his father who had passed on. He could not remember where the deposit was and the only information he could provide us was that the it was found on Ramshorn Mountain close to the tree line in elevation. Jake and I decided to try and find it.
November 21, 2016
September 28, 2016
September 15, 2016
The 2016 Agate Expo was a historic event, which showcased the greatest collection of agates ever! Relive the 2016 Agate Expo with the commemorative DVD sets. Each DVD set highlights a different portion of the show.
These DVD's are a great addition to any rock club or rockhound's library. If you missed the show, this is your chance to see what you missed. The DVD's can be order separately or save $50 when you order the complete collection. Pick up your copy today!2016 Agate Expo DVD Sets:
September 14, 2016
September 14, 2016
Artist Mark Anderson has created five distinct necklaces exclusively for The Gem Shop. These necklaces all have a South Dakota theme.- Dinobone Necklace - The front of this pendant is an agatized dinosaur bone cabochon, which displays orange, red, and black coloring. On the back is a dinosaur skull engraving. The front half of the pendant is curved, while the backside is flat. Agatized Dinosaur Bone can be found in South Dakota.
July 20, 2016