This report and photos covers The Gem Shop’s mining operations in June 2004 and June 2007. The Beverly Marie claim was not mined in 2005 and 2006.
As reported previously, it is not uncommon to fine hollow agate veins in the Graveyard Point area. Many of these vugs contain angelwing chalcedony and can extend for some distance. This year a vug containing reddish-orange angelwing chalcedony was found on the north end of our claim. The vug was about 5 feet deep and 1 foot wide. The most colorful angelwing was on the top and upper sides of the cavity (see first three pictures below). We worked the area on the north end of the claim about one week and then moved to the center of the claim where we finished working in 2004.
Near the end of our work in 2004, we discovered a very long vug and we were anxious to get back to it in 2007. My partner, Jake, was digging with a hammer and chisel on one side of our pit and I was doing the same on the other side. It was late in the day and the light was fading. Suddenly Jake let out a holler. I thought he found a really good rock or he had hurt himself. “You gotta see this,” he said. There in the bottom of our pit was a dark hole – another vug. This one however, seemed to be quite large. It is quite an unnerving experience to be working in hard rock with a hammer and chisel in the bottom of a pit, surrounded by solid rock, only to have the rock you are working on fall away from you! It was late, and we could not see in the hole very well. We went up to camp, found a flashlight, came back and opened up the hole a little more and looked inside. Much to our astonishment, it was about 5 feet wide at the top, narrowed as it descended about 10 feet and as far as we could tell, went approximately another 10 feet to the left.
The next day an additional opening to the cave on the other side of our excavation was opened up. Both holes were enlarged enough so that a person could fit through. We attached a rope to the excavator bucket and went in to take a look. About 10 feet down the opening narrowed and was filled in with agate plates and dirt that had fallen off the sides from above. On one end the cave took a 90 degree turn and went another 10 feet or so in a different direction. This opening was very narrow and not big enough for a person to get in. All the surfaces of the cave were lined or covered with agate. Pieces and plates of agate had fallen off the ceiling and some sides, cluttering the bottom of the opening. Unlike the wonderful angelwing in the vug we found on the north end of our claim earlier, the agate here was not very good and covered with a soft yellowish foam-like opal.
The BLM requires all miners to completely fill in excavations each time the claim is worked. So at the end of the 2004 mining operation, the cave openings were buried. In June of 2007 we re-excavated our pit and found the cave again. The roof on one side had collapsed and half of the cave had filled in with debris. We dug this out and started to remove some of the agate plates that line the opening. Some of these are amazing pieces of solid agate 2” thick and measuring up to 2 by 4 feet. The largest plate we removed was about 4 by 5 feet, but broke into two pieces when we set it down after lifting it out of the cave.
Two other vugs were found to the left of the cave. These had small cavities and appear to be connected to the main cave, but no open tunnel was found. Very good plume agate was found around these two openings.