February 09, 2016

Morrisonite Cabins Part III

The third cabin on the Morrisonite claims was built on the south end of the Christine Marie claim about 600 ft. below the canyon rim. The Christine Marie claim extends down into the 2000 ft deep Owyhee River Canyon further then any of the other 4 Morrisonite claims. I built this cabin up against a large flat rock over a period of several years around 1990 so that I could live closer to where I was working. It is a mining axiom, that the closer you live to your mining activities the more rock you will extract.

The decision to do this came over a period of time. The drive down and back up to the cabins every day was dangerous and hard on the Scout. Also, since I am a diabetic, it was not good for me to be so far away from food, insulin and other resources. The old Scout that can be seen in several of the pictures was used to make the trip up and down. The odometer on the Scout measures the distance down as 3/4 mile and the distance up as 1 mile. The discrepancy is a result of slipping and spinning tires over the very steep road coming up. Three of the switch backs on the road are too sharp to make the turn requiring stopping, backing up, and accelerating to make the next clime. One time I was driving up a steep grade and the engine on the Scout sputtered and died. I backed down to the last switchback and tried restarting it. It stared right up and seemed fine so I stared back up only to have the same thing happen again. I found out that if you did not have the gas tank full enough, the engine could not pull the gas from the tank which was lower than the engine because of the steepness of the hill. I eventually installed a second gas tank in the back of the Scout and had a "down hill" gas tank and a "up hill" gas tank connected with a switch under the driver's seat. It was important to have the switch in the right position before driving up. Oh yes, I backed the Scout up the hill and out. It ran fine with the gas tank above the engine.

I built cabin III for $34. That is the total amount of money I spent on resources for the cabin. In the late 1980's, it was discovered that the 80 year old Gem Shop building had a nice wood floor under two layers of plywood with ugly linoleum tile on top. These 4 by 8 sheets were pulled up, hauled to Oregon, and used to make the roof of the cabin. Some of the glass showcases in our shop get scratches from all the rocks that pass across their surfaces. When these glass tops were replaced they became windows in the cabin. Bent nails from other projects were saved, straightened and used to nail boards together on the cabin - anything to minimize the cost. I would like to say that most of the miners who worked the Morrisonite claims over the years did so more because they loved the rock and thought the world should see it, than they did to try and make money. Making some money is a necessity however, and mining as cheeply as posible minimizes the risk and has been the rule. This was especially true for my friend Jake. Jake lived off of what he produced and had no other source if income or backing. He has lived outside most of his life (no rent or mortgage payments). I know of no person more resourceful, optimistic, ethical, or knowledgeable about the extraction of Agate and Jasper from the ground. The cabin was built by attaching 4 long poles by drilling and pegging them to the large rock. Other rocks removed while mining, were drilled and split using feathers and wedges to create a flat surface. These became bases for the walls which supported the roof. All three Cabins have dirt and rock roofs. The most destructive force out here is the wind and the weight on the roof adds stability to the structures. A picture of this cabin is used on the back cover of the Calendar of Fine Agates and Jaspers published evey year by The Gem Shop. I will also have an exhibit of Christine Marie Morrisonite in the Agate Expo exhibit hall next July 2016.

  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin
  • Morrisonite Cabin