Mad Dogs & Rock Collectors Go Out In The Mid-day Sun! (Post up your Rocks & Mid-day Epics!)

  • I do need to post two camp photos of my first night, so friends know it is really me telling this story.



    The next morning, I drove up an occasionally wet road to where things were looking a little boggy & parked. I found the Mountain Boy mine in about 1 1/2 miles, near the end of the road & followed cat tracks above the main mine to higher tunnels at about 9,000’. The mine had a few left- behind ore specimens, one piece of mining machinery I couldn’t identify, a couple cabins, & a lot of No Trespassing - Government Property signs on the cabins.

    Mountain Boy seems like an appropriate name for the mine.

    Indian Paintbrush & more Kinnikinic quartzite.

    Lead - Silver ore found near the mine. The ore is similar at every mine in the district & is described as "earthy."

    After I hiked back down to my vehicle, I found the biting flies were warmed up & waiting for me. Lunch was inside & I drove back down & south to the old Mining Camp of Gilmore. It had boomed during the early 1900’s & a railroad named the Gilmore & Pittsburgh Railroad had been built to it from Dillon Montana, where it connected to an existing Union Pacific rail line. The town had mostly become a ghost town in the early 1930’s, but a number of historic buildings still remain & quite a few folks have bought lots there to park trailers on. A few historic buildings have been restored as vacation homes. Since Gilmore is located just off the highway from Idaho Falls to Salmon, year-around access is possible, even though it sets at 7,200 ft.

    Gilmore from the north.

    The county historical association has a few old photos & stories of Gilmore in it's prime, at an outdoor exhibit.

    Gilmore in its prime about 1920. The row of small houses at the bottom of the photo was described as miner's homes. (click photo to enlarge)

    A stout Gilmore prospector & his dog & horse about 1900.

    Although most of the large mines just west of Gilmore are marked No Trespassing, some aren’t & I walked around several, then drove up to scenic Meadow Lake looking for a mine of interest that is called the Meadow Lake Mine. It remained elusive, but I stopped at the nice campground at the lake & shivered in the 20-30 mph wind & 60-degree temperature. The numerous campers did not look to be enjoying themselves. After going back down towards Gilmore I found the somewhat hidden, but nicely maintained Pioneer cemetery & paid it a visit.

    A large open mine shaft just west of Gilmore. I tossed a rock in & it fell for 3 seconds before hitting bottom.

    Meadow Lake, the most scenic campground near Gilmore.

    Oxidized pyrite crystals, mostly converted to iron, from a Gilmore mine.

    The well-maintained Gilmore Pioneer cemetery. It's a little hard to find, but scenic. I understand people are dying to be there. (Actually there's only one grave from this century.)

    After that I drove south to the Birch Creek desert & got out of the bug zone. Unfortunately, the wind that kept the bugs away also made fishing Birch Creek difficult. It was ok with me though, since I could start cocktail hour at 5:00 instead of 7:00.

    One of Idaho's eight 12,000' plus mountains from my camp.


    After sleeping in, I fished for a couple hours the next morning, but never saw a trout larger than 10". I made it home to Choss Creek by 3:00.

  • @FritzRay Looks like you're well supplied in the vino department 🍷

    In other news... yeah, ID mosquitoes can be bad news. Even worse news is that we lead the nation in West Nile cases per annum. I had an AK river guide turn me onto these Thermacell Units a few years back. He had a fairly large group size unit that we benefited from even camped thirty feet away during a particularly nasty mosquito year up at Hell's Roaring. I was sold and subsequently purchased one of the personal sized units linked above. Consumables are a bit pricey but otherwise love it. Not having to coat your body and clothing w/toxic insecticides is a huge win. Toby recommended. 👍

    Edit: I also favor ExOfficio Bugsaway Bandanas. In addition to keeping mosquitoes at bay, also helps shield higher elevation UV off ears, back of neck, etc. Mine cost $8. Looks like they got popular and are running half again that price now. ExOfficio also offers a lot of other clothing items. Group of affluent "Touristas" I met that same trip had a member of their party sporting one of their Halo Shirts. Evidently pretty popular around certain golf courses and he'd brought his. The group had been packed in by local outfitters and there were perhaps a dozen empty large sized cans of OFF waiting to be packed back out. Seeing was believing.

  • Pretty cool stuff! what where the steam boilers used for?

  • @NickG Just like in a steam locomotive, the boiler steam was piped to pistons, which turned wheels. The wheels were connected to mine machinery with belts. They could run winches to raise & lower ore & miners up & down mine shafts, or pumps to pump water out of mines, or ore-crushing machinery. By the 1880's Ingersoll Rock Drill company sold a rock-drilling rig that used compressed air to cycle a pneumatic drill. It was far more efficient at drilling holes in mine tunnels, than men hitting hand-held drills with sledge hammers. Those holes were then filled with explosives to blast more rock or ore & extend the tunnels. So then, steam engines also ran air compressors which powered the drills, until smaller gas engines were developed early in the 20th century.

    "Small" gas engine is a relative term. My buddy Gordon, who you met, & I found this single-cylinder gas engine at an Idaho mine two years back. They are often called "hit & miss" engines & were widely used in the early 1900's.

  • saw some cool stuff up around Teluride in 2016 but didn't know what most of it was used for other than knowing it was for mining..

  • @NickG! Here's a Ingersoll Rand air compressor at a mine on Spruce Mountain Nevada. It likely dates to the 1920's.


  • looks like buzz worm heaven 😉

  • @NickG! I think it was above prime rattler territory, although I'm up to three encounters this year, including descending a mine dump on 2' diameter rocks & looking down at a disturbed & excited rattler in a hole, a foot below my right foot. I levitated out of that position. Mostly, I don't encounter rattlers at the high mines I visit.

    But, we were finding good mineral specimens. Garnet crystals on white calcite from that mine.

    Andradrite Garnets on white Calcite. Photo is a closeup of a 1 inch area.jpg

  • As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining. Entire river systems, e.g. Clark Fork, became essentially sterile. Time and expensive cleanups footed by taxpayers rather than the mining barons restored fisheries decades later. Still ill advised to eat the fish so it's a good thing most sportsmen are into catch and release these days.

    Another example would be Anaconda Smelter Cleanup. Copper Barons declared bankruptcy prior to expensive cleanups that ended up tapping millions from the Super Fund. Folks who grew up there bitd often contracted various strange forms of cancer. My mother in law was pretty involved with the local historical society and records indicated the Barons we well aware of the hazards and even went so far as destroying records.

    Here's one more from the Anaconda Copper Legacy.

    Okay, sorry to be a downer. Just wanted to keep in perspective cuz while I dig these pics of days gone by it was pretty bad news ecologically. ✌

  • Two things
    In that sweltering garage that flooded, was the cardboard box containing
    what is left of a once-proud rock collection.
    My father & I amassed somewhere around 60 quality specimens.
    After my leaving he saw fit to leave 3 pounds of raw decaying Vermiculite
    in the same wood/glass display case.
    From all I've read, a bucket of soapy water and a light spray down
    will render the stones & crystals safe.
    From what I understand;
    my mother was known to pass out small hammers to very young children,
    to give them entertainment; smashing on the best of the semi-precious stones,(Pictures to follow in a few days)

    This is an awe-inspiring thread and I give tribute!
    It makes me think of a thing not so much as any sort of competition
    I can think of this to inspire me to do my own march to a sad castle that sits a click
    (or 2 at most) up a hill in the tick-infested mixed hardwoods.
    We'll usually go in the fall as it is an annual thing
    so it might be more in a month or 2.

  • Vermiculite is not that big a deal in small doses. water will keep the dust down. wear an N100 mask (majenta filters) if not you will probably live with a snug N95 dust mask. wash that stuff off and move on...

  • Toby! Your point is well-taken.

    "As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining"

    Much of our history had dark spots, when we dig a little deeper. Mining caused & still causes incredible damage to our environment. An Idaho story that amuses me is that the "world-class" ski resort towns of Ketchum/Sun Valley had a lead smelter during the 1880's. The large & modern Philadelphia Smelter was on the banks of Big Wood River, just west of Ketchum & it smelted lead/silver/zinc ores from the many mines in the area.

    Here's a non-copyright stereoscope photo of the smelter & the railroad bridge to it from the Bancroft Library.
    Philadelphia Smelter-Bancrof Library, 1905.jpg

    The Smelter went bankrupt by 1890, but the environmental mess from it has been "swept under the carpet of history," since Ketchum/Sun Valley don't want to be thought of as a "mining waste site."

    Ketchum/Sun Valley celebrates the next local industry that was important, massive sheep-grazing, which also caused much erosion & damage with a highly-successful "Trailing of The Sheep" festival every fall, but I doubt if they will ever have a "Mining & Smelter" festival.

    I drove by the local airport two weeks ago, when the annual Paul Allen & Company "Billionaires Summer Camp" was happening. It is strange to see so-much wealth & power concentrated in a one-time mining boom town.



  • I managed a two-day outing to another group of high mines in "deepest Idaho." South Mountain sets near the Oregon border on the western edge of the Owyhee desert & has a mining history that goes back to the 1860's. The mines there mostly produced lead & zinc along with some silver & copper & achieved their most productive years in the 1940's & early 50's. They have now mostly slumbered for 65 years, but still hold substantial ore reserves. For the last 15 or so years much exploration work has been done on them, but fears that the mountain-top & BLM fire lookout would be replaced by an open-pit mine have not been realized, yet.

    Fire lookout at center left from my first mine hike of the day

    My abusive rock-hound parents dragged me to South Mountain when I was a teenager & forced me to look for old bottles, small mining artifacts, & mineral specimens. All I can remember finding is the box of mineral specimens I still have. Heidi & I went back in 2007 & enjoyed the wonderful solitude & terrific sunsets from the high treeless ridge the fire lookout sets on. There are of course, no developed campsites & no amenities, which is just the way we like it.

    Looking south at the Owyhee highlands & my SUV from the lookout.

    One of many open mine shafts.

    I was at a mine about 400 vertical feet under the summit on the east side when two Air force fighters cleared the summit by about 100' & roared off east. The dot in center of this photo is the 2nd jet.

    Most of South Mountain is a "Skarn" where semi-molten granite was uplifted millions of years ago into still more ancient limestone. It produced the ores that got mined & some minerals only of interest to collectors. Most of those minerals are on private lands, but some areas are still available, although 150 years of mineral collecting there has made collecting challenging.

    Here;s a big chunk of calcite, with sprays of Skarn iron minerals, brownish Hedenbergite & black Ilvaite. I left it in place.

    But, there is still the glorious sunsets & awesome sunrises.


    And even though I had to share my camp with cows, moonrise with cow is a rare photo opportunity.

  • ![0_1566056465770_IMG_2260 chrysocolla.JPG](Uploading 100%)

    Yeah, there is some issue post last weekend's updates that I've yet to debug. Intermittent glitches can be challenging to replicate and hence perplexing. Been busy w/other things. I have encountered it myself with "known good" images, however, so will get it figured. Sooner or later. Apologies in the meantime. 🤦

  • A few more photos from my most recent visit to "Deepest Idaho."

    A closeup of a nice chunk of copper ore & quartz. The yellow is Chalcopyrite & the blue is Bornite aka "Peacock Ore."

    IMG_2307 chalcopyrite n Bornite..JPG

    A nice little group of clear quartz crystals with black Ilvaite crystals.
    IMG_2258 quartz & black ilvaite.JPG

    And a view down to one of the old mines I hiked to & on to the Owyhee uplands & the Owyhee Mountains. .


  • I hiked up Little Fall Creek near Sun Valley to explore some old lead-silver mines on its west fork. Although an avalanche from last winter blocks most vehicles at about 7,750', a decent road to lower mines at 9,100' makes hiking pleasant. I followed steeper & rougher road up to about 9,400', then a steep trail to the highest mine at 9,500'. The nearby ridgetop called me higher & I worked along it to about 9,750' & a good look at the area high-point, Peak 10,227'.
    High-altitude pine stump at 9,700'. I assume miners used the trunk for mine timbers.


    The ridge ahead didn't look pleasant & after about 4 miles & 2,000 vertical feet, pleasant was suddenly important to me. I descended, exploring mines for minerals of interest along the way. Happily, I could leave those specimens behind.

    Lead-silver ore at the highest mine.

    Small quartz crystals. It was easy for me to leave this 300 lb. specimen behind.

    Weathered Galena (lead sulphide) crystals. Area of photo is about 1".

    Here's a view back up the side canyon I hiked with a red arrow showing my high-point. Great avalanche country!
    IMG_0803 best hike top.jpg

    I camped for the night on Lower Wildhorse Creek & was discovered by a small, fast, & hard-biting fly. Long pants solved that problem & I enjoyed the views.

    The next morning I was surrounded by monsoonal showers. I drove on up Wildhorse Creek to where I intended to hike, but was discouraged by the weather. It wasn't going to be pleasant at 10,000'.


  • I made a journey into Nevada’s remote & legendary Kinsley Mountains last week. The area was first mined in 1862 for silver, lead, & copper. Eventually some major mines were explored in the early 1900’s, then it was mined again for tungsten in the 1940’s.

    Driving through "Deepest Nevada" to the Kinsley Mountains.

    A huge open-pit gold mine tore out the center of the range in the 1990’s. That mine is now closed, although promoting mining companies keep doing exploratory core-drilling & promise more rich gold discoveries.
    The big gold mine is the treeless area at top center.

    The early miners found a lack of water. A 1916 article on the mines mentions the only spring flows about 8 gallons of highly mineralized water every 24 hours. The first mine I hiked to was a first for me, a marble mine. Intrusive granite has altered dolomite to marble of a commercial grade. This mine was also abandoned, but interesting.

    A large marble slab, with my 4' long hiking pole for scale.

    West view from the marble quarry.
    I followed a road through several quarries to a pass above the range, but then it was time to car-camp for the night.

    I'll be damned! My first every marble mine.

    Marble slopes going up towards the intrusive granite cliffs on the skyline.

    Wedges used to break off a drilled slab of marble with my hiking pole for scale.

    A marble slab ready to be hauled to civilization.

    A view east to Utah's Deep Creek range, from a pass I hiked to.

    A very long snake along the way.

    Chicken Marsala & fine red wine for dinner.

    Kinsley Mountains sunset.

    The next morning I hiked around two small groups of old silver, lead, copper mines, & then near the marble quarry I hiked up to where much digging had revealed copper carbonates. By that time temperatures were in the low 80’s. After a late lunch, it was time to start home.

    This cabin used huge timbers. Some were 12" x 24" thick.

    Another cabin & mine tunnel.

    A little copper ore. Mostly Chrysocolla, copper silicate.


    A scary open stope. Miners worked up along a mineral deposit from a lower tunnel (adit) to the surface. I tossed a rock down it & it bounced for about 2 seconds, before hitting bottom.

    Garnets. Area of photo is about 1/2"

    Pyrite in calcite.

  • @FritzRay Nice, Fritz! Exceptin' that open stope! Damn! Best be paying attention to where ye' be walkin', eh?

  • I gave myself an early 70th birthday present & returned to the remote Kinsley Mountains of NE Nevada to hike to some more old mines, observe the locals, & look for minerals of interest. As before, it was great for me, although yesterday was a little windy. It's snowing there today.

    Of course, at almost age 70, the sign doesn't apply to me.

    An old headframe, used to hoist ore & miners our of a shaft, with Utah's Deep Creek Range in the far background.

    My campsite view of a mine tunnel at lower center-left, below a hillside of limestone altered to quartzite by the intrusion of granitic rock. Happily, no Zombies or Vampires came out of the tunnel to bother my nearby camp after dark.


    Sunset view east to Utah's Deep Creek Mountains from camp.

    A big chunk of rock with a coating of Azurite, a colorfull copper carbonate.

    My shadow & a 12" lizard yesterday morning.

    I saw lots of evidence of wild horses & finally had a herd of 12 run by.


    My late morning mine hike took me to a group on the ridge at middle left. I then worked up & right below the cliffs, then up through the cliffs to an early mine just below the ridge at top right.


    A vein of Chrysocolla, a copper silicate.

    A beam with several square nails, which were the standard up until round nails replaced them in the early 1880's, next to a hand-carved capstan bar, with notches, which rested in the arms of the beam & another similar one, to raise & lower ore buckets & miners from the shaft at top right. Knowing the history of the area, these artifacts date to between 1868 & 1874, when the district was abandoned. Wow! Trekking poles for scale.


    I found some garnets & green epidote too, but they stayed behind with the artifact.


  • @FritzRay , hey there say, fritz!! wow, this is really NEAT stuff here, ... say, also, are in the path of any of the bad weather? say, thank you so very kindly for sharing all this...

    we'd (folks like me, that don't get out to explore, much) would NEVER see such things, otherwise...

    thank you! lovely photos, too... night now! 🙂

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