DOCUMENTING MY JOURNEY

aaronsm321

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I will start this journal off with some background. I haven't been real active on T Net over the past few years. I have been more of a lurker than a poster. I love the treasure legend posts, the geology posts, cache hunting, old Spanish/ Jesuit stories, really anything that can help a novice gain some sort of edge out in the field. I just finished the book Apache Gold, Yaqui Silver by J. Frank Dobbie. That book and the Adams Diggins discussion is really what has brought me back to T NET.

About myself- I turn 32 this month (March 2022). I live in Ohio. Carpenter by trade, now I work in manufacturing management. I asked the woman in the following photos last November to marry me, to be married this coming November 2022. My interests are prospecting rock hounding, treasure legends, hard rock and placer mining, archeology (specifically pre flood antediluvian cultures in the Americas). I also like to be outside over anything else. Due to the strict land laws in Ohio I mainly get to look for flint, Indian artefacts, mushrooms, hunting, and I visit GPAA claims. The start of this journal will be documenting several mining trips over the past few years.

My goals: I have tried to leave Ohio for the past 10-12 years. Mainly I have focused on moving west (New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana) and have made a push almost every year or so to do this, no matter what I always seem to get stuck in Ohio. THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT. My to be wife has agreed that we can move west after we get married! I hope to show you folks how I have been honing my skills an equipment in flour gold country in order to get the mineral in GOLD COUNTRY.

Ideally I want to find a claim or several where I can work independently throughout the year (Hardrock or Placer), or I would like to possibly mine mineral (gems, collectors pieces, etc) across a vast area and then make trips to a few gem shows throughout the year to sell product. With my current savings I think I could make this transition and I feel like if I don't make this effort now, I will look back with regret my entire life.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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Last spring 2021 we booked a mining trip. We flew into Las Vegas and then I booked us a few nights in Laughlin Nevada. This is a beautiful area and I had a fee mining trip booked to the cuesta fire agate mine. This mine is outside of Oatman, AZ on historic route 66. We had a great day here. Don, the mine owner was a great host. Really he seemed like a wealth of knowledge. What he does here I think would be perfect for an ideal career for myself. This was strictly hard rock mining. My pictures of the mine site aren't any good but I will share what I have. First picture is a surface pit that he had me working, second pic is my fiancé (Laken), mine owner (Don), and myself (Aaron). The third picture is some fire agate that I am currently figuring out how to work, taken from this location.

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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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After the amazing experience in Oatman, AZ we made the trek north into Nevada. This trek seemed to take us mainly through mountain valleys all the way to Tonopah, NV. In Tonopah we stayed at the historic Mizpah hotel, Nevada's tallest building until 1927. At the Mizpah we got the "wagon room" a room with a bed fashioned from an old fashioned settler wagon. We ate at the Tonopah Brewing company that night which had excellent food and beer. Tonopah has an entire mountain in town dedicated as a 113 acre mining park. We visited the museum, but it had snowed that day and we couldn't walk the park.

The next day we had scheduled to go see the famous Royston Mine, once owned by Tiffanys and renowned for the turquoise specimens it had produced. The mine operator family is the Ottesons, an old mining family famous for having turquoise mines throughout Nevada and for having a TV show on amazon. We were pretty excited to meet these folks and it was pretty expensive to schedule the mining trip out to the Royston, so it was a bit disappointing when a "family friend" showed up to take us to the mine site. Our guide was a nice lady, but had virtually no information on the mining or geology of the area. We drove to a surface mine site outside of Tonopah about 20 minutes, I really am unsure if it was the Royston because it wasn't marked very well.

Never the less, we sifted and sorted through tailings. I climbed up to the most recent surface disturbance and did some poking around. We were able to spend about 3 hours looking through the mine site for turquoise. By the end of the day, my Fiancé had the find of our whole trip. A huge turquoise nugget about the size of a golf ball. I found a bunch of in matrix turquoise veins which I haven't cut up yet. I have a saw but no cab machine so I'm in a bit of Limbo.

Due to the large amount of material we mined in Tonopah and Oatman, I started running out of space in our luggage. Luckily there was a USPS in town and we used 2 flat rate shipping boxes to send about 50 lbs of material back to Ohio.

ps. I ended up leaving my Minelab progold sifter at this mine, it was a gift to me and I was a bit sentimental about it. The Otteson's went back out to the mine and mailed this back to me for $60, these are like $20-30 online. So an expensive lesson, make sure you have all your tools with you before you leave a site. When we got back home, both boxes we sent with material through USPS ripped. Who knows how much material was lost. Another expensive lesson.
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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After Tonopah, we made the trek to ELY, Nevada. My target here was the world renowned Garnet hill. That night it had snowed. My rental car barely made it about a mile up the route to the hill. So we went back to town, drank, and gambled. We both had the best steak of our lives at the Jailhouse Restaurant/ Casino. It snowed again that night, but I was Damned Determined to find a garnet. I left my fiancé in the car to play on her phone and I decided I would summit and get a garnet.
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When I made it to the top, following no trails, it ended up being a bit more snow covered than I expected. I took a selfie and started my trip back to the warm car. Honestly we loved Ely. We have talked multiple times about packing it up here to move out there.
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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After the great trip out west, I find myself back in the glaciated land of ohio. Mixed till soils, glacial end moraines, and just a general mash up of whatever was bulldozed out of Canadian greenstone fields. Oh, and did I mention dodging Amish everyday?

Sometimes one of Ohio's 20 sunny days a year lands on a long weekend. When that happens we like to make a trip to Southern Ohio. The GPAA has the Spriggs Claim on the Scioto river near Piketon. As far as layout goes, this is my favorite GPAA campsite in Ohio. The claim is long, the Scioto is usually less than 4ft deep, and they just developed some new Primitive sites on the north end that I will try out the next time I'm down. For anyone interested, there is a great podcast about this area (the Piketon massacre).
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After prospecting and dredging throughout Ohio for the past 3+ years, its pretty hard to hide my disappointment. Its a lot of work maintaining a dredge, planning, packing, taking time off work to find the amount of gold that I'm getting. I'll show you later and you will laugh at my efforts.

Don't get me wrong, there are great creeks to walk in Ohio. I've heard rumors of Ohio Fluorite, but have never found any and have only been gifted one piece. The state fossil is a Trilobite, I have known no Ohioan that has found one. If you know landowners, you can find Indian artifacts in almost every tilled field. There is a deep and sometimes mysterious history in the Ohio River Valley. This history, I believe is Ohio's real treasure. The glacial float in my area can be boulders as big as houses. We have strange masonry in our area that has been found deep underground. But, this entry is to document my trip to spriggs claim.

Its a 3.5 hour drive for me and we always make camp before anything else. This is more than likely memorial day weekend 2021. I always need to check flood stages, one time we came and this whole place was under water. That was not a fun 7 hour round trip. Anyways, memorial day in Ohio and my dog (milo) is so cold he is shivering and refusing to move from the fire.

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So here I get to work my dredge. I do about 8 hours of upkeep on the dredge per year to use it maybe 16 hours per year. I really view all of this as good practice for when I relocate to somewhere a bit more geologically interesting. This is a Keen 1.5" Backpacker
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Just to make everyone smile. This is my reward for about 8 hours dredging, an hour or two of separation and classification, an hour of running through a finishing sluice, and then hand panning:
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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Typically when I make it to the Spriggs claim, I also try to make a Pilgrimage to Ohio's Great Serpent Mound and Caesars Creek state park. If you have never been to the Serpent mound I would highly recommend it. Although it has been damaged and mismanaged over the years, it truly is awe inspiring. I have read that there are alignments on the corresponding hill sides, but the current group has let all of the trees grow up around the mounds. I have also heard rumors of a cavern underneath the mound, but I don't think there has been a big push for discovery. This site has equicental alignments and sits in an ancient meteor impact site.

Caesars Creek is a special place for us. If you stop by the rangers office, they provide a free permit for fossil collection. The story goes that the Dam constructed for the lake spillway ran through a fossil rich layer of Devonian aged limestone. Here you can find numerous fossils, the permit allows you to take anything smaller than palm sized pieces.
Here we are at the spillway, and Lakens' find of the day, a piece of Horn Coral in matrix:
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ArfieBoy

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Welcome to the forum from Oregon. Congratulations on your adventures here in the west. Good luck on your move. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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Welcome to the forum from Oregon. Congratulations on your adventures here in the west. Good luck on your move. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.
Thanks Arfie! My brother lived in Bend for a while, he said it was beautiful out that way. One of these days i'll make it that far, hopefully!
 

ArfieBoy

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It is beautiful around Bend, but I actually like it better here in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon! Actually, I live in La Grande on the edge of the largest gold field on Oregon. Lots of mines (old ones) and many that are still being worked by individuals and corporations, not on a big scale but small productions.

I have been in several of the areas of Nevada that you talked about. Ely, Tonopah, ate at the Tonopah Brewing Company, too! In fact, we stayed in the motel right across the street from the TBC and a couple of blocks east of the Mizpah Hotel. Friends and I toured the mining museum there too and took lots of pictures.

I never got into gold prospecting very heavily, just played at it and panned before I moved on to other aspects of treasure hunting and metal detecting.

You brought back a lot of memories for me. We were on a motorcycle trip through the area with several friends when we visited those areas. Great times.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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It is beautiful around Bend, but I actually like it better here in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon! Actually, I live in La Grande on the edge of the largest gold field on Oregon. Lots of mines (old ones) and many that are still being worked by individuals and corporations, not on a big scale but small productions.

I have been in several of the areas of Nevada that you talked about. Ely, Tonopah, ate at the Tonopah Brewing Company, too! In fact, we stayed in the motel right across the street from the TBC and a couple of blocks east of the Mizpah Hotel. Friends and I toured the mining museum there too and took lots of pictures.

I never got into gold prospecting very heavily, just played at it and panned before I moved on to other aspects of treasure hunting and metal detecting.

You brought back a lot of memories for me. We were on a motorcycle trip through the area with several friends when we visited those areas. Great times.
There is an decrepit/ abandoned hotel in Ely. It used to go by the name of Annie's. Its been a frequent talking point in our home about how we afford to purchase and remodel it. We really loved Ely. That whole country would be great to see on a bike.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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We usually spend 4th of july week in South Carolina. One of those days I will usually book a trip to shark tooth island. This is an island in the Savannah river. Basically there is periodic dredging of the river for ship traffic. The layer they are dredging is considered "fossil rich". They then transport the dredged material to false islands in the savannah river, one island is shark tooth island. I believe another of these is bird island. Anyone interested in how I facilitate this just reach out and I will let you know. This was 4 people 1/2 a day of hunting. This coming year I will be focusing on mineral digs in Georgia.
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Akronplacer

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Jan 3, 2022
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If you ever want to get some big Ohio gold hit me up. I have found 2 0.2 gram pickers at my spot and several 0.1s. I get about .2 in good flakes with just my river sluice.

There are plenty of fossils and good garnets to have as well. My girlfriend looks for fossils and I dig for gold.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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If you ever want to get some big Ohio gold hit me up. I have found 2 0.2 gram pickers at my spot and several 0.1s. I get about .2 in good flakes with just my river sluice.

There are plenty of fossils and good garnets to have as well. My girlfriend looks for fossils and I dig for gold.
Dont tempt me with a good time! If you want to private message me I would be glad to learn more about your property!

Thanks,

Aaron
 

Akronplacer

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Dont tempt me with a good time! If you want to private message me I would be glad to learn more about your property!

Thanks,

Aaron
It's not mine but the guy gave me permission to dig and told me to dig it all so he didn't have to rent an excavator to get rid of the gravel bars. He severely overestimated what one man and a shovel can do against a raging creek.
 
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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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During Labor Day weekend of 2021 we had a few free days. I was able to book a last minute room at the Alpine Inn near Little Switzerland, North Carolina. http://alpineinnnc.com/ This is within a few miles of Emerald Village, home to several famous mines and a really neat night time Black Light Mine tour. This area of the Appalachia's produced a multitude of different minerals. Spruce Pine, NC is the closest town that has restaurants and a few places to grab some cold drinks after a day of splitting rocks. Another cool fact about Spruce Pine is that it supposedly produces one of the purest forms of quartz available, it is said that any electronic device manufactured using quartz crystals are probably using quartz from Spruce Pine.

After the 8ish hour drive we made it to our little room at the Alpine Inn. The inn is pretty old school, no cable, no air conditioning, etc. The views were worth the slight discomforts, and the couple who run this inn are good people. We made it down to spruce pine for dinner, but power was out across the town. We found a place to get some cold beers and drank most of our supper. Power returned the next day, and we were off to Emerald Village. First a photo or two of the views from the Alpine Inn:
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So anyways, we made our way to Emerald Village https://www.emeraldvillage.com/. There they have a mining museum and some touristy stuff, the real hidden gem is that they offer fee mining at 2 great old emerald mines. First, the Crabtree, rumored to have once been the sole emerald supplier to the Tiffany's jewelry company, as well as the McKinney mine which I know little about. Reading about the Crabtree, I was very excited to go. You pay the folks at Emerald Village, they provide a map and say good luck.
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The mine is definitely out there. Luckily I have my 4x4 Tacoma, I would not recommend taking a car to this location, but there were people there who had brought several cars down the very primitive path to the mine. Talking with the locals, it sounds like the crabtree has been played out for about 20-30 years. Below is a picture of the mine dump, the mine itself is flooded. I believe the host rock is mica and quartz. I brought back about 30lbs of promising material. I still have not found a single speck of green. We found a lot of black tourmaline in quartz, and I'm cutting through the material, but it was a bit of a disappointing day. On a side note, the locals are pretty cautious of outsiders. We ended up being parked in at this mine by a local refusing to move his truck. After some back and forth with the Emerald Village folks who knew this gentleman, and some threatening calls to the tow truck company, he decided to park some other people in, and we got the heck outta there. Looking through everything I just realized I forgot to photograph anything at this mine. My apologies, I was pretty frustrated at the end.
UPDATE, My fiance had a few photos sorry the quality on her photos is less that desirable:
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Up Next Either Black Light Mine Tour Photos, or our trip to the Little Pine Garnet Mine.
 

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aaronsm321

aaronsm321

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The night after mining the Crabtree we had another great meal at Spruce Pine. We returned to emerald village for their Black Light Mine tour. This is a really neat concept. Basically Emerald village is an old timey mining reenactment / museum of sorts. This experience wasn't necessarily a mine tour but more like a "lets show you the entrance to a mine tour". After dark, they take you to the mine entrance behind the museum. They turn the lights off and briefly describe minerality and the rock structure. Maybe this was geared to extremely uneducated or to kids, but the actual black light portion lasted maybe 30 to 45 minutes and we basically walked to a portal, shone some black lights, and then walked back to the museum. It was neat to see, but could be vastly improved on. For example-use of a megaphone would help, telling of the minerals that produce the fluorescence, explain formation, explain what causes fluorescence, talk about fluorescence possibly indicating further minerality, etc.
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So our overall impression: It seems like this area is pretty economically depressed. The people were nice, but if felt like almost everything was over-represented or that everyone was trying to overinflate the cost and prominence of this area (the mine, the village, the tour, and our hotel). Prices were a bit steep and we were very underwhelmed. I don't doubt that this is an area of huge minerality, but this educational village could use some attention from whoever is running it. We thought this area was beautiful but felt a bit taken advantage of. In the end, if your are in the area I would definitely recommend going to check this out. Maybe making a special trip and wasting a week or two of income might not best return on value. Neat Concept, mediocre follow through.
 

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