1997 Field Trips

Phoenix Gold Mine Trip
April 19, 1997
By Ray Horton

Wow! Did you see all that gold at the Phoenix Mine on April 19th?

The weather being perfect... 38 enthusiastic Rock-hounds met in Idaho Springs and carpooled the couple of miles up to the mine. The snow had melted and the road was good.

While at the Idaho Springs visitor's center, Greg from the local radio station inquired about the caravan. Tammy Ottmer of the North Jeffco Club told him to wait and she'd get the field trip leader. Ray Horton talked to him briefly and they put a neat "commercial" on the air about the field trip.

At the mine, with hard-hats in place, they divided into two groups led by Holly Sue and Mike. Electric lights lit the way through the tunnels where ore cars sat on the rails, and mining tools were scattered along the way. Stories of finding rich veins and mining experiences, as told by our guides, were very exciting.

After the tour, everyone had a chance to buy ore samples and pan for gold in the creek. Some said they found silver, gold, hematite and small garnets.

Editor's note: If you missed this exciting trip, you can go on your own. The Mine is open 10 AM to 6 PM Daily, weather permitting. The Underground Mine Tour and Gold Panning:

Adults - $7
Children under 12 - $4
Panning only - $5

Phoenix Mine
PO Box 3236
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
(303) 567-0422

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Stoneham Trip
May 3 & 4, 1997
Specimen Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Topaz Mountain, Utah Trip
(the Bachman and Maynard claims)
May 24 - 26, 1997
By Terrance Yee

On the Thursday evening prior to Memorial Day weekend, we set out amid the threat of rain. After a brief stop overnight in Grand Junction, we headed into Utah. By 5 on Friday afternoon, we had made it to Howard Bachman's claim and marked the route for the others. We were just able to set up camp and get into the tent prior to the rain beginning. Moyra had joined us by then. My brother had driven in around 11 that night and slept in the car. Unfortunately, the four of use were to be the only ones who showed up. Saturday morning it was still raining and didn't let up until 10 or so. The good thing about the rains were that the topaz lying around was easier to spot, plus the temperature stayed comfortably cool the whole weekend. We spent that morning in the Pink Pit at Howard's claim digging into some of the more promising crevasses for pink topaz and breaking up some of the blasted rock that looked promising. We had some luck there, picking up some small points of topaz that were clear and pink. We also drove over to the Maynard claim to investigate and hopefully talk to the people there. There wasn't anyone around when we got there though, and the heavily blasted pit didn't show nearly as much promise as Howard's claim so we didn't stay.

That afternoon, Julie, my brother Ken and I set off for Topaz Mountain proper. We had a false start that had us climb the mountain just north of Topaz Mountain instead and didn't find anything. After setting off again, we did find the actual "Cove" area described in the guide book (helpfully loaned by Ron and Judy Knoshaug). There were quite a lot of people camped in the area including a party that seemed to really enjoy target practice with semi-automatic weapons. We started by climbing the southern end of the west wall and picking up a couple of dozen clear topaz lying around after the rain. Some of these were very clear and bright, if not more than 1/4 inch across or so. We dug around some without much success that afternoon, then traversed across to the north along the wall a ways, hoping to come across the red beryl deposits. No such luck. Moyra had found a few more pink topaz by the time we returned.

Sunday we all went to the Cove together and Moyra led us up a similar path to the one we had followed the day before, except we went higher this time and went slightly further south. There we found a fairly heavily dug-up region and evidence that someone had piled rocks on top of a hole. After removing the rocks, we began to find some sherry topaz at the bottom of a crevice running parallel to the cliff side. Moyra walked up to the other end of the crevice and began working from that side while Ken and I worked the crevice from the other. Julie worked several various locations in the area with much better success than we had the previous day. At one point, all four of us found small pieces of red beryl that were the hight point of the day. We worked the crevice for most of the day, finding many small clusters of sherry topaz throughout. At one point, we took shelter from an approaching storm around the side of the hill and discovered some amethyst deposits with a little more topaz above them.

On Monday we went our separate ways with Moyra remaining at the Cove for several more days and Ken returning to California. Julie and I went back to Howard's claim and Julie found the "Discovery" pit that held numerous sandy topaz crystals with red edges and even a few more points of pink topaz and the trip's only scorpion (which was easily avoided). The return trip to Denver was fairly uneventful except for the 12-car accident just on the other side of the Eisenhower tunnel that we missed being involved in by about 5 minutes. Luckily our car is really slow with all of that rock hunting equipment weighing it down. All in all, a very enjoyable trip that we would be happy to take again. The cove is really an amazing place on Topaz Mountain. I don't think we'll ever look at topaz the same again.

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Devil's Head Trip
June 7 & 8, 1997
Trip Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Spruce Grove/Tarryall Trip
June 28 & 29, 1997
By Terrance Yee
Trip Pictures

Julie and I arrived at the campground on Friday night and for once, the Spruce Grove Campground had open spots available. By Saturday morning at 9:00, only Eldon had arrived from the club. After waiting a half hour for other club members to show up, we started up the trail. We took the long way around, following the jeep trail to the left of the standard route and avoided most of the steep hiking sections. Eldon led us along this trail up to an open meadow some distance past the saddle in the trail. Across the meadow, a white painted arrow on a tree trunk marked the path to Bob Moore’s old claims. We followed Eldon further as he lead us through these claims, pointing out different locations where various people made large finds. We finally settled down near the top of these claims along the ridge where Eldon said that we would be most likely to find blue topaz. Along the way up the ridge I had found a half dozen small pieces of topaz lying around as float. It was obvious that we were the first folks to wander up this way since the last big rain; some of these pieces were lying fully exposed near old diggings.

We meandered around this location for some time, occasionally doing some digging, but mostly just looking for float. Meanwhile the dogs had found a stream on the south side of the ridge so they were happy wading in it which kept them out of our hair for the most part. After lunch and a short nap we continued wandering, this time slowly making our way back down the ridge and checking for float more closely. "Surface collecting" is what Eldon called it, but we don’t mind just calling it "lazy". It’s hard to argue with the method though, when digging and screening gave us nothing and looking for float lead to all our discoveries that day.

In one spot I had found four small pieces of topaz on the way up, so when we came back we dug through this area with picks, shovels and screens but didn’t find anything more. We also kept our eyes open for what someone had described as the "fire pit" since they had told Eldon that they found some rather large specimens recently in that area. Our single largest piece of the weekend was found near the site of an old campfire, so it’s possible that the 4 ft wide fire pit was the one we had heard about. That piece actually had a slight blue tint to it and was a fairly clear "chisel point" as Eldon described it.

When we got back to camp and had dinner Moyra and Bob Loeffler found us. They had arrived late and done some exploring near the location usually visited by the club on the trail that goes up the really steep hill. They hadn’t had any huge finds, but did get at least a few pieces. Eldon decided to call it a weekend that day and Bob drove back to Denver since he didn’t bring any camping gear because he had been running late that morning.

Sunday Moyra, Julie and I headed back up the trail where Moyra tried her luck at Bob Moore’s claims and Julie and I went back to a hard rock site we had found last year. We didn’t have any luck at our old site since the rock was even harder than we remembered. We did run into another couple prospecting in the area though who told us some amusing tales of other prospectors they ran into Saturday. Bob Loeffler joined us at our site and we all hiked over to Bob Moore’s claim. We didn’t find Moyra by the time Julie and I had to leave to get home for a soccer game, but we did get to see Bob Loeffler make a nice find before we went.

Since we had to leave a little early, we assume that everyone made it home safely and hopefully they had even more luck once we had left. We certainly had a much luckier day on Saturday. In fact, I think later this year or maybe next summer, we may hike further up the ridge and look for the source of the topaz that was deposited in the ridge we were on. This was our third and most successful trip to Tarryall, so we’re now looking forward to our fourth trip.

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Climax Molybdenum Mine Trip
July 19, 1997
Trip Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Contin-Tail Rock Swap Meet
August 8 - 10, 1997
Trip Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Ruby Mountain Trip
August 10, 1997
Trip Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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"Rockin' in the Rockies"
Rockhound Jamboree

August 15 - 17, 1997

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Mt. Antero Trip
August 30 - September 1, 1997
Trip Pictures

Sorry, no trip report available.

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Elizabeth Trip
September 28, 1997
By Eldon Hunewell
Trip Pictures

This trip (unlike the one we scheduled in April) had just perfect weather, really. I called the people on the April list who were unable to go at that time and some were anxious to go while a few declined. On the April trip only a couple people went besides myself to deal with snow etc. but we found alot!

It was a bright and sunny day and about 75 degrees this time. We met at the bridge at Elizabeth and there were at least ten cars to arrive. I had personal guests from Colorado Springs (the Disgill family) and a friend at my workplace, Don Showalter family. Some from the April trip sign-up came (the Mees, Nelsons and the Rodenburgs.) Bob Loeffler came and we had guests I met at the Denver Show -- The Sandberg family (Melody and her children, as well as some of her brothers and sisters in another car.) The Sandbergs live nearby and wanted to give it a try and seemed to enjoy themselves a lot. I enjoyed taking us on a brief hike to a neighbors property (a new treat we were not expecting... the rancher's neighbors let us on their property to the south to explore and collect on which added another square mile to collect on.)

Bob Loeffler found a larger piece of wood embedded in a rock and spent much of the day working on that while most of us dug the usual hill for the Carnelian Wood. The Mees and Nelsons took their usual arrowhead hike. Dick Rodenburg found a nice large specimen on the new site to the south and the Drisgill family were very successful staying in one spot digging down, down and around! We all did pretty well and some were more happy than others. The weather was the best weather I have collected in all year (lots of rain and snow and wind, etc on many trips this year). I'm sure the participants just enjoyed being outside in the great outdoors.

The ranch where we found the Carnelian wood may be sold soon and if so, we will try to schedule a final send off trip for it this winter some time. We may get permission from the new owners and it is still up in the air at this time of writing.

This was a nice closing trip for the year that didn't seem to go particulary well in field trips in 1997... bad weather and minimal attendance at many trips... so it ended the Jeffco trips on a high note.

We welcome the enthusiastic new memebers of the Sandberg family and hope they will join us again next year on our expeditions.

p.s. I hope I didn't forget to mention any people and I apologize if I did and sorry this report is a bit late!!

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