Miners’ Lunchbox: A word on security

A note about safety and security:

© 2009, 2010 Old Tombstone Studio, Timeless Mining from “A Gem Miner’s Guide”
Even in the early days of my career as a specimen miner, I came across diggers who protected their secret spots with threats. Even those of us who would never share dig sites, would compare notes about the various cars and trucks we would find parked too near a hidden trail, or worse still, parked behind our own vehicles when we returned from our digs.
The first serious incident I can recall that hinted at how serious it could get was the murder of Ron Gallup of Laconia, N.H. Ron wrote a well done mineral locality guide book, and was found with a gad-bar through his heart somewhere near a very large pocket system on North Moat Mtn. about 1977 or 1978. His stolen car was found in Maine, and his suspected killer was found years later in a Cuban prison, there for drug smuggling. It was an early warning of the growing danger in the American gem fields.
A large pocket discovered by separate parties was conceded by agreement [by Pete Samuelson to the author] and I submitted an application for a permit in 1980 [delayed by the Forest Service]. In January, 1981, with several feet of snow on the ground, [and no one out collecting] four high-graders got a fraudulent permit from the Forest Service for my discovery
site! It said ”$10 or less in value of mineral materials for educational purposes only.” Two weeks later, I bought a double terminated football size & shaped smoky quartz –from my own
strike- at the Tucson Show, and promptly had samples analyzed to prove what I could tell by comparing to my own specimens. That year I wrote a 26 page report for Sen. Gordon Humphrey [R-NH] and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources on the situation, the new assessment of how large the gem bearing pocket fields and some of the “galleries” were, the problems with Forest Service intransigency and obstruction of responsible prospector-applicants’ efforts to legally mine, and the subsequent growing problems with unauthorized removals and associated crime as values went up and the reputation of the gem fields grew with numbers of significant finds being made in spite of Forest Service stonewalling of issuance of approved permits. I submitted that Senate Report as evidence in a 1984 Forest Service Court case & won, but the problems are worse today!
I want to remind novice, new hobby-level and professional prospectors {& those who may want to diversify from gold and treasure hunting} that we are in an age where even Al
Queda supporters indulge in mineral and gem theft, smuggling and marketing, not just the traditional thieves. Also a serious safety factor in some of our National Forests is the presence
of clandestine meth labs, non-medical marijuana grow-ops, and in areas along the Mexican border, drug and people smugglers, heavily-armed cartel ‘army’ units, and yes, terrorists.
An Al Queda associated group, Jamaat Ul Fuqra, was found in Buena Vista, Colorado operating a madrassa and in possession of a major cache of assault weapons, RPG’s, and explosives, and an associated similar storage was found in Colorado Springs in
conjunction with those arrests. It was years before 911, however, so afterward, and on the occasion of Wall Street Journal Reporter Richard Pearl’s death at the hands of Afghanistani Jamaat Ul Fuqra, a Colorado Springs TV station replayed their news report about the “local” connection. A spokeswoman for the FBI was on the news answering a relevant question;
“No, we don’t know how many people were members of the Buena Vista Cell, and we don’t know if we got all of them, and we don’t know how many might be still active.”

At the Crystal Creek [Colorado]Rocket Mine Camp, we heard too much gunfire in one area, and got this response from FBI Agent Neil Hoener: “Gentlemen, you are not unreasonable to presume that automatic weapons fire all night long was NOT sportsmen.”
The days of prospecting alone are over. Gem miners in particular, MUST work in teams. Though it is fairly obvious that one must be cognizant of security in one’s own home or business, we must take the advice of some gem dealers who suggest it is just as reasonable to take precautions from the mine to the market. I want to add that sometimes, depending on the gem and/or the deposit, just knowing what is where can get you into trouble before you even get into the field. If word gets
out, {and sometimes it seems the trees have ears.} someone will endeavor to be standing just out of sight should you walk away from your hole, or is liable to operate your mine while you
are away. Nothing is safe. Bob Whitmore [Palermo Mine, N. Groton, N.H.] told me of parking a bulldozer on a pocket they had to leave between weekends, and returning to find it
dangerously undermined by high-graders.

High-grader tales are, unfortunately, legion. One can hardly spend but a season or two afield without hearing of felony thefts that, were they of any other commodity, would make the evening news. For some reason, these thefts and the ‘Great Northeastern Gem Rush’ only bubbled transitorily on the C.N.N. media awareness level during my 1984 court case. Rarely making local or regional newspaper front pages, both remain a somewhat well kept secret. This may be in part due to a Forest Service reluctance to administer the resource to the benefit of the local community, even though that is the clear and unambiguous intent of the [1911] Weeks Law. The gem trade has been lax also in addressing the problem and the black market.
The natural dangers of the forests and mountains and deserts, along with the hazards presented by, and inherent to, prospecting expeditions – are just the tip of the iceberg of
challenges. High-graders and ‘claim-jumpers’, thieves and vandals, are also only part of the not-so-nice aspects and realities of this otherwise rewarding activity. The “Red Tape” of
permits, bonds, plans of operations, environmental assessments and impact studies, the ‘stuff’ that goes with surface disturbances on Public Lands, the nightmare of rules, regulations, and bureaucratic confusion is also just the beginning. {Put on your paralegal hat.}

There is, of course, the prejudice and jumping-to-conclusions that will inevitably come from some environmental groups, who will take advantage of the fact that you have to operate under the same regulations as the big companies mining not-so-environmentally benign minerals by any method. They may even spend more money than you make in a few years getting an injunction preventing you from camping and panning gold as well as mining your sapphire strike, if it involves water! So watch out for that “Dragon” guarding the minerals, for it can
take many forms. Do NOT go blindly, dreaming of striking it rich; realize the beauty of the search as well as the goal. The hunting is always good, it’s the finding sometimes that’s not.

Good luck, & happy hunting!

Palermo mine aqua

A record 14.9 carat flawless, a 6.22 ct, and rough.

Miners’ Lunchbox: The Great Northeastern Gem Rush

© 2009, 2010 Old Tombstone Studio, Timeless Mining Co.

The Great Northeastern Gem Rush
Although it may seem apparent to many that the Northeastern U.S. is again experiencing an episode of increased activity in gem hunting and mining, some involved, including a few Forest Service rangers, have, for over 20 years, characterized the public reaction to recent strikes as “The Great Northeastern Gem Rush”. Intense levels of gem prospecting are typically episodic, but continuing high levels of amateur prospecting
activity and the successes of high-risk commercial mining are proof enough for some professional geologists to project possibilities that a billion dollar domestic gem industry
may arise from recent discoveries and ongoing research made possible by high technology. The data base built upon traditional and recent pegmatite miners’ wisdom is likely to enlarge significantly by research facilitated by the use of ground
penetrating radar. The new gem rush, however, actually has 175 years of great momentum behind it. Even earlier, gemstone finds were made well before colonial days, and several Native American gems were so legendary as to seem mythic, and no doubt inspired many early explorers to look again. A southern New Hampshire tale reported that around 1790 there was a stagecoach stop at the corner of three towns where aquamarines
were picked up loose from the ground. So much better documented, the gem tourmaline find of 1820 by Ezekiel Holmes and Elijah Hamlin on Mt. Mica near W. Paris, Maine
started a long chapter of incredible volume of gem mining history. Few experienced collectors are not familiar with the classic sources of Northeastern gem mining tales, or with the associated names, many of which make up the Who’s Who of mineralogy. Those with familiarity with the exciting discoveries of gem aquamarine, tourmaline, topaz, amethyst, and garnet realize there have been very few times of any duration when
exploration was not occurring. Anyone with any doubts as to the continuing nature of efforts to make gem discoveries should read the 1972 and newer editions of Jane Perham Stevens’ book: “Maine’s Treasure Chest: The Gems and Minerals of Oxford County, Maine”, and back issues of the mineral magazines, for very few of the past twenty+ years have passed without news of yet another major strike. Although the past two years have been no exception, strikes known to the public are but a small part of the projects and discoveries occurring in the Northeast.{see Van King} Traditionally secretive, gem
hunters are often silent about the signs of the potential magnitude of the new gem rush.

When I realized that I’ve been a mineral collector for 50 years, and that a majority of that time I’d pursued gem-stock, it occurred to me just how many truly frustrating expeditions
I’d endured before finally starting to make finds of any significance. And yet, I have no regrets of those hundreds of miles walked or dozens of tons shoveled, because I found!
Many collectors and dealers have asked me recently to relate some of the unique circumstances leading to my successful explorations and discoveries mining pegmatites and granites. I rarely fail to relate how, sadly, too many of the talented old
timers I’d learned from are gone, and so many of the revealing deposits are now just so much mid-air and memories!

I spent most of my first 15 years of collecting in search of
beryl crystals in the pegmatites of New Hampshire and Maine. The rarity of gem aquamarine, beyond that from so few localities and the paucity of any more than small gem sections of crystals from so many others, was primarily due to lack of pegmatite mining activity rather than potential.
I was privileged to know some of my Dad’s friends who were
1940’s pegmatite miners. They related tales of orange tourmaline on foot long quartz crystals and this led to an ambitious new category of prospecting for me.
It “happened” to me in 1963 when I started to range further from southern NH, to Perham’s gem shop in West Paris, Maine to visit and learn from some of the old grapevine of miners who showed me areas in Oxford County and near North Conway,
NH, including Deer Hill, site of many recent amethyst finds. I also prospected in western NH near Grafton and North Groton until 1964 when word got out of Bill Ross’ and John Oliver’s huge pockets of giant smoky quartz and AMETHYST crystals on Kearsage, Hurricane, and Black Cap Mountains. (Rock and Gem, Bob Jones, ’94) I paid Bill $15 to see the pocket where, in the sticky clay, my life changed.* The only way to get a feel for
the kind of excitement and prospecting fever shared by the pocket diggers is to read the remarkable tale related by Phillip Morrill and Harrold Verrow in the June 1945 issue of
Rocks and Minerals. After the 1938 hurricane knocked down hundreds of thousands of trees, their expeditions in Northern NH revealed much amethyst, topaz, and smoky quartz, and they recovered a lot, including smoky quartz up to ninety pounds. Fifty+ years later, we now know that their stories were neither exaggerations nor were their strikes such flukes of luck as so many skeptics would have us believe. So many have accomplished the impossible, adding to the data base that by 1978 the record had gained critical mass when geologists confirmed that it wasn’t only Maine pegmatites that hosted potentially commercial gem bearing miarolytic deposits, but also large areas in N.H.: some syenites, quartz monzonites and more of the Conway Granites than expected.
In 1981 and 1983, large pockets were found, one estimated to have been worth about $400,000. This renewed collector interest, increasing activities so much that each year since has brought reports of major finds including some fine topaz and amethyst.

{Bill Ross and John Oliver also dug great amethyst from what is now my NHES 041929 permit area which is dedicated to them and named the “John T. Oliver Memorial”.}

Well over ten years ago, believing there were commercial gem
possibilities, a number of collectors and dealers applied to the Forest Service for permits to mine pockets in the White Mountain National Forest. A few leases were issued in Maine, but some Rangers, acting independently, stonewalled and stalled. I went through the red tape myself, getting so frustrated I wrote a 26 page report to a Senate Committee about the situation. In a case reported in the New Hampshire and Boston newspapers and on C.N.N. News, I was arrested while collecting by Forest Service Rangers who were out of uniform and off duty at the time! After showing the Federal judge some 99 photos and the report to the Senate Committee, my discovery rights were recognized, but it took ten more years a lot of paperwork
and many calls to Washington before I got my permit approved. Then, there was delay by the Conservation Law Foundation and the Audubon Society of NH in an appeal to the Forest Service not to issue even approved permits. News reports of our 1983 case included geologists’ opinions that the discoveries involved were estimated at values between $10 and $50 MILLION! A few Environmentalists’ unenlightened fears that gem mining would be similar to less benign metal mines were heightened when a 1990 Forest Service commissioned study by J. Eusden Dykstra of Bates College, Maine, confirmed what collectors
had known or suspected for 25 years- that on Moat Mtn. alone… Moat Mtn. alone…
Moat Mtn. alone… there were more than 40 times the few known acres with large pockets, and that some pockets were in the 30 to 50 foot range! The imminent gem rush was undeniable; some pocket fields approached the 10% theoretical limit of cavities per volume. Had these been Public Domain lands as in the West, there would have been many claims and more apparent commercial mining efforts already underway.
But these are “acquired” lands, sometimes called “Weeks Law” land, granted to the government by individuals to benefit their local communities with managed exploitation of their natural resources, usually, but not limited to, timber harvests, as a
condition of the grant. In 1973 Congress issued a regulation (C.F.R. 43, subpart 3541 preserving a ten acre area for amateur rock-hounding. Other regulations (subpart 3562) require that under a prospecting permit one must determine the “existence or work-ability of a particular hard rock mineral and discover a valuable deposit of any such minerals.”
This is for commercial permit activity outside of the amateur reserved area. The old timers, even though they may have envisioned the eventuality of a larger gem mining industry, could never have imagined the maze of new regulations nor the fortune in fees and bonds now required to get a commercial gem mine into production. While this has
impacted the majority of would-be [including future miners like you or your grandkids] gem miners out of the game, the reality faced by the survivors is very promising, for the demand is great, values favorable, and the market: EARTH-WIDE!

The Rocket Mine, Crystal Creek, Colorado, helped establish a precedent for miarolytic gem mines nationwide in that any such mine succeeding under what are probably the most stringent and demanding legal and ecological requirements ever imposed, advances beyond doubt that miarolytic deposits such as these are definitely exploitable and profitable, with little or no impact on the environment and with significant impacts on the area’s economy. {On the average $5+ into the area for each $1
in gems produced.} When the gems produced enjoy the status of being the official state gem, such as Smoky Quartz for New Hampshire, the ratio of benefit to the community may be a conservative guess. The potential for growth in numbers of mining projects in this category of gem deposits (Miarolytic) has been greatly increased by the development and application of ground penetrating radar. Although expensive to purchase or lease, the ability of the technology to define cracks and voids to depths of 90 feet offers great advantages. The limiting factor to its more widespread use is the absolute need to know precisely where and how to apply it, for the radar signal is so narrow- a few feet long and only an inch wide.
In spite of the expense, G.P.R. is very good for locating and defining the pockets, vugs, seams, tunnels and galleries with crystals within them. It minimizes the volumes of rock removed in the search for pockets and makes possible more profitable gem mining.
Finding and producing gemstock isn’t enough in the volatile market where fashion, jewelry trends, and seasonal color popularity cycles may favor changing gem varieties each year with a rise in demand. Even extremely rare gems of limited supply do not always become expensive (Cobaltite) while some shades of indicolite tourmaline, for example, command high per carat prices while indicolite, as such, is not in short supply.
Even in the largest producing mines in Brazil, the seemingly large production (7,000 pounds of amethyst, for example) is actually only two or three percent of the total material mined. Though in general, gem mines do not compete for the market, domestic American gem mines usually must produce very high quality material at the lowest possible cost.{Pricing and grading standards, accordingly, must be better as well.}
[With my 1995 USGS Bureau of Mines’ G.P.R. research grant results, the delays of the “Environmentalist” impasse was broken- not one yard extra has to be dug to directly recover the target, the impacts are truly minimalized, controllable, & acceptable.]
In 2004 & 2005, Bush Administration ‘Rule Changes’ and Supreme Court Decisions [in cases of miners vs the Forest Service] further favored small mining operators’ rights in particular when dealing with U.S.F.S. “Requiring” Plans of
Operations when no trees are cut or heavy equipment used. [See icmj.com]

In my Rocket Mine case, the need to use heavy equipment was less an option of the miner to produce as it is a requirement to accommodate the Reclamation Law of Colorado.
I needed to use equipment only to restore the land, but everything that isn’t paying pocket crystals is overburden and waste*, so as soon as it is dug- by hand or with the backhoe bucket- (“severed”), it comes under [Colorado] state and Forest Service authority until final reclamation. SO…The pockets are NEVER mined with equipment- they are extracted (“severed”) by hand, exempt from their authority, for reclamation is achieved concurrently.

Small scale gem and minerals miners have never seen such favorable times, between worldwide demand and markets, high
tech advantages, and recent rulings [43 CFR Part 261] that have given the few survivors in the trade some hope of surviving and thriving!

The quality of the Northeastern region’s gems is legendary. The Dunton Mine’s tourmaline gems were not only world class, but led to a growing appreciation for domestic potentials, and the fine gem carvings by Gerhard Becker {in watermelon
crystals} inspired the now enlarged market for carvings in gem-stock. A few years ago some outstanding Idar- Oberstein gem carvings in smoky quartz were exhibited at the Tucson Show. The large rabbit and buffalo were inspiring examples of the advantageous marriage of subject and gem material. Michael Dyber’s “Cathedral” (Lapidary Journal cover) of NH smoky quartz* showed well how geometries also work beautifully.
*[from above Cathedral Ledge, Moat Mtn., N. Conway, Carroll County, N.H.]
Much of North America’s best aquamarine, tourmaline and topaz has originated from prospects and mines in the Northeast, incidental to industrial feldspar, beryl, and mica mining, and some as continuation of the historic traditional gem search. Some of the best amethyst in the world has come from New England, and although Deer Hill, Maine material has been used as a standard of comparison, some prospectors will attest to
seeing materials from elsewhere described as “like grape jelly”. The miarolytic pocket sources of these gems are in the widespread pegmatites and granites of New Hampshire
and Maine. Most tourmaline bearing pegmatites are on private land (many have been leased in the past few seasons) and most of the amethyst, topaz, and smoky quartz pockets are on National Forest land. There are exceptions which the diligent searcher may find. Just as new pockets are still being found in already well known and extensively worked localities, there are pockets and pegmatites bearing gems still undiscovered beneath the obscuring soil and vegetation which has kept the gem “rush” ongoing
for 175 years with no end in sight!
When I started collecting 50 years ago, I was determined to continue enjoying the search regardless of the results. Later, when I gave up hunting and fishing, {since I was spending more time digging than hunting}, I appreciated my Dad’s observation that the “Hunting & fishing are always good, its just the catch sometimes doesn’t measure up.”
I’ve done things many collectors only dream of, and I must say I’ll never tire of digging out ‘crawl-in’ pockets, but it is even more exciting to know these pocket fields are richer than the old timers thought, and they dared to dream we someday could do this, and believed in us as trustworthy stewards of the mountains’ secrets.
© 2009, 2010 Old Tombstone Studio, Timeless Mining Co.

Emerging from the double chambers large enough for two card tables inside.

The Great Northeastern Gem Rush

Miners’ Lunchbox [Dec. 1st]

Old Tombstone Studio  &  Timeless Mining today initiated MINERS’ LUNCHBOX with an Invitation to American small mine operators to submit high definition video on any aspect of ‘artisan’ mineral production, prospecting, minerals & geology, permitting, or operations. We encourage documentation of mineral discoveries, promotional , educational, and entertaining mining related videos for publishing on the web as part of our new Expedition America series. We intend for this networking to help small mine operators to survive, thrive, and grow. We offer more than a publishing outlet with a special interest audience, we offer to assist our associates with an exclusive encrypted provenance system for registering significant discoveries, specimens, one-of-a-kind art & jewelry, etc. as a marketing and security edge. [also] We have an exclusive area advantage in Ground Penetrating Radar Services applied to special mineral deposits, {$3500 to $4500 per week plus expenses.} and our growing Miners’ Bench group includes contract miners, mineralogists, equipment operators, stone cutters, silversmiths, etc. ready to help us market together under a common banner at major trade shows like Tucson, AZ in February. Our audience, our client base, and our common interests have been addressed repeatedly at major gem & mineral show conferences, for at least ten years. The consensus: a need for such a domestic US “small miners” oriented Web TV channel with their voices and points of view well represented.

Admittedly, several good websites represent the mineral dealers and gem artisans well, and occasionally there’s a featured field trip or prospecting expedition dovetailed into the programs. The Meteorite Men and similar exploration programs, archaeological and treasure hunting, have only pique’d interest and demand for substantial and ongoing content in category, like the Travel Channel’s ‘Best Places for Cash & Treasures” series visits to a few American Gem Mines. We’d like to be part of that Great American Gem Rush on video as well as in the field. We will be producing and sharing our own mining and local expedition videos. If the mistakes being made by newcomers and ambitious novice prospectors can be minimized and mitigated with our experience & wisdom, if we can encourage and educate our labor pool, if we can contribute to our niche industry’s resurrection, if we can facilitate production of strategic and precious minerals, we can stand upon the dignified and honorable tradition together…we trust there will be a commensurate response from the world, and from Americans who can proudly exercise their preference and support for those preserving and exercising the Mineral Estate Grant of 1866 by which much of our private property rights and subsequent control of our own resources foundations our economic stability and our community’s peace.

Small MINE OWNERS & Operators Contact us NOW, to reserve your project or to get more information about the benefits and advantages of participation in this FREE SERVICE. We have a network of potential distributors for our programs which can rapidly grow with our portfolio of content. FREE ADS, FREE LINKS, no obligations; and you can show the programs from Miners’ Lunchbox on your site as a member of The Miners’ Bench.

Inspiration & Opportunity Shared!

btw, we are aiming at having a series “Expedition America Digs” on a major cable and satellite channel in 2011!

Adversity for some, advantage for others.

A mountain of difficulty, a rocky trail, an uncertain view; we need but listen or watch briefly our [electronic] cyber-world to expose ourselves to stresses we did not evolve to resist. People, cultures and societies are “snapping”; assumptions and delusions and corruptions unravel in the concurrent short-term doubling of human knowledge. {at a rate estimated to be something less than every 9 months.} As metaphor, we stand upon the mountain looking back down on the ant-hills, the rows of ‘chicken coops’ in the hazy valley, pondering why so few below consider the climb worthwhile, or why they consider themselves unworthy or unable or unwilling to make the effort. They did not listen when we set out to leave the chaos, the meaninglessness, -the lack of company sharing a vision of a noble mission was a disappointment. BUT the few who are here are friends more than acquaintances, fellow time travelers, adventurers. Once clear of the smoke and mirrors, we find others have escaped the wars, and we both pine for those who cannot be with us as well as we marvel at our disproportionate good fortunes appearing as clearly as the actual mountains before us in the clear peaceful air.

The simplification is elegantly present. TIMELESS.

REAL PEACE, real quiet, outside the community matrix. The countryside, the open land provides the realization that permeates any open mind which has self-esteem sufficient to hike outside the city limits. Perspective gained with distance may be a lost advantage if the leverage is not applied. For too many today, the prospect of being [unemployed] the sole provider for oneself and family is too new a challenge; unprepared, dependent, they may become less disconnected, more cooperative, by necessity. For others, the ‘mother of invention’ is singing loud and clear, as many begin to actively participate in novel endeavors, some of which have appeared as subjects of very popular cable and satellite TV and Web TV Shows. “Hobbies” as such, as well as a whole range of “Cottage Industry” arts & crafts endeavors, Rural life-style and how-to’s have never been so enthusiastically redefined or popular. Adopting a former hobby as home-based biz has also been made affordable in part because of this networking of shared interests, whether it’s collecting, arts, or field work in the garden or further afield. Adventure travel and expeditions serve us a banquet of videos only dreamed of a few years ago. There’s great fun and inspiration for some [of us] in documentations of the new Gold Rush and related Prospecting expeditions, like The Meteorite Men series.

We share heartfelt hopes with many readers, that PEACE will somehow prevail [in spite of fearful contra-indicators abundantly broadcast] and thusly we may pursue, with unrestrained enthusiasms, the blessings of our land, our private property rights, our resources, our gardens, orchards, mines, and timber stands, our waters, our plants, our animals, our freedoms, our liberties, and our children.

Timeless Mining, an Arizona registered mineral producer and mine support services provider is assembling a private team of Joint Venture Agreement participants in a program of production and operations. Occupancy of the work-sites is required; inquire via email, please. Office: Box 134  Tombstone, AZ 85638

Work location(s) are near Nogales and Patagonia, AZ, mines and work camps are more than 20 miles from paved roads.

Networking Mining field videos for a new publication coming soon, operators/owners of domestic American small mines, join the Colorado & Nevada miners onboard the Miner’s Lunchbox. Contact us now for free publicity & promotion!

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