While in Tucson I asked Phillip Stevenson if he was going to mine his new claim called "Linda Marie" this spring. The agate deposit is in the Graveyard Point Plume Agate area on what is called East Ridge about 1 mile east of the Beverly Marie Claim. (5 miles by road) My friend Jake found the deposit years ago and originally called it "Christmas Tree Plume" because of the abundance of green coloring. Phillip told me he wanted to work several deposits and would probably starts sometime in May. I asked him if I could use the same machine that he rented under his contract on the Beverly Marie Claim. The advantage is that the Linda Marie and Beverly Marie Claims are close together so moving the machine from one claim to the other was not to difficult. Additionally, the cost of the rental would be less because I would be using the machine at the monthly rate for a shorter time, thus allowing for a lesser cost of the rock produced.
Gary McFarlane and I left Cedarburg on June 2nd. Gary has accompanied me on several mining adventures and agreed to do it again. I appreciate Gary's flexibility in being able to come along, and he also manages to pick up some good rock for himself. Gary and I arrived at Jake's house in Homedale, Idaho three days later and spent most of the evening catching up on what has been happening in this agate and jasper rich part of the country. The next morning Jake led us out to Phillip's claim. The dirt road seemed a little worse than last year, and I had to go very slow with the trailer. We set up camp on a ridge with a beautiful view of the Graveyard Point Agate area below us in the valley to the west, and went to work helping Phillip.
The agate veins here are generally much smaller than the veins in the deposits a mile to the west. Veins three-quarters of an inch are many times kept here, where as to the west they are generally discarded. The veins are almost always vertical and can be straight for 15 to 20 feet (a rather wonderful mining experience). The plumes are very dense and generally more colorful with green being the predominant color. The centers are often solid colored and can offer outstanding contrasts to the plume formations. I have seen streaking white plumes that are colored green on the tips on solid red backgrounds. Gary and I helped Phillip for a week and then we made preparations to move to the Beverly Marie. It took a day to move camp, the excavator, fuel trailer, and get set up. For more information on the Linda Marie see "RareRocksandGems.com".
I had decided earlier to work three different small areas on the Beverly Marie Claim. These digs would be exploratory in nature to understand what would be possible later. I also did not want to spend two days digging out the old pit and cave area (see previous reports), which would require rerouting the road. I had only ten days to work before the excavator was to be returned, and I did not want to spend four of them digging out the old hole and filling it back up again. The first or second time Jake and I worked the claim we hit a hollow vein in the north draw that had some wonderful Angelwing. I picked a spot a little west of where we worked three years ago. I was in the excavator with Gary and Phillip as spotters. I appreciate Phillips help on the Beverly Marie. We hit several veins just under the surface and started following them into the hill. The agate was quite dark with a lot of black marcasite plume. On some of the veins the black was accented by white and tan colored plumes. We never did find the vein we had worked on 10 or 15 years ago. In two full days we kept about 1800 lbs. of agate, filled in the hole, and moved to the south part of the claim.
While reclaiming Bill Tallman's old pit 15 years ago, I hit a large vugs just east of the road. It was memorable because Jake and I saw a rabbit disappear into it never to be seen again, and there was a little good pink plume on the south end of the vug. Later we discovered the cave under the road which I assumed was probably part of the same system of veins. I moved the excavator to where I thought that vug might be and started digging. We never found the vug, but other veins started to show up. The veins were in line with the direction of the cave but east of the road. The agate here was very good - mostly orange and yellow plumes with many hints of pink. In the next few days we produced about 300 lbs. per day of acceptable rock. We also hit one foam pocket similar to the ones we encountered in the cave area. It was full of yellow powder and other rocks. We could only follow it down about three feet because I could not open up the pit much larger due to time restrictions.
The third area I wanted to try was the west side of the ash deposit that was originally bulldozed off by Bill Tallman 35 years ago. The cave was discovered under the east side of the ash deposit. A series of basalt peaks lies under the ash with agate veins occurring in the basalt. I worked most of a day in this ash. Although there were indications of agate deeper I did not have time to dig deep enough. I reclaimed the area and went back to our second hole. Two out of three experimental digs producing nearly two tons of agate is not bad for a 10 day operation!
Numerous people came to visit while we were working. I think all had a good time and found some rock. As a policy, The Gem Shop, Inc. offers collecting on our claim for $0.50 per pound with written permission. The collecting is of course better while we are working.