Browsed by
Month: June 2014

Gold Fever – Before California

Gold Fever – Before California

The California Gold Rush has been the subject of interest to Americans over the last century and a half. Legends, stories, and histories about it fill book store and library shelves. This is understandable. Striking “pay dirt” was a dream come true to the early settlers who risked life and limb to follow that dream. Their stories remain vital and exciting,  and glamorous to this day.

What is confusing, though, is why a very similar Gold Rush twenty years earlier has been so comparatively ignored. Some claim that Rush was started when Benjamin Parks discovered gold in White County, Georgia in 1828. Other stories Claim that Jessie Hogan first found gold in Dehlonega on Ward’s Creek. Another tale credits John Witheroods, finding a large nugget in White County on Duke’s Creek. Whoever the credit truly belongs to, mining operations were in full swing in White County, Georgia by 1829 and by 1830 had spread to Lumpkin, Union, and Cherokee Counties as well.

By late in 1829 thousands of prospectors from all over the states had swarmed to Georgia, an onslaught still referred to as the “Great Intrusion”. It is this Rush that led to the “Trail of Tears” when the government drove the Cherokees, who had been panning gold in Georgia since before the white man settled in the area., out of Georgia in response to the ever growing conquest of gold by the white man.

The Gold mining industries boomed in Georgia, with towns springing up here and there almost over night. The government built a mint in Dahlonega in 1838 in reaction to the large amounts of metal being unearthed. In 1849 word of the California discovery of gold reached the East coast. As prospectors packed their pans and shovels and headed West, mining began to taper off and had almost died by 1858. In the 1880’s with the invention of hydraulic mining, the industry began to pick up again and gold is still being mined in Georgia today.

Evidence of the country’s first Gold Rush can be see today in Atlanta where the State Building is crowned with a dome of gold from the mines of Dehlonega.

©  Sally Taylor

After the Meet-Up – West of the Owyhee Reservoir Trip Report

After the Meet-Up – West of the Owyhee Reservoir Trip Report

Having a few days to spare after the Succor creek meet-up, I spent that Monday West of Lake Owyhee (also known as Owyhee Reservoir).   It was hot and sunny and  a beautiful day for it.

The scenery is much the same there as it is in the Succor creek region – rolling sage covered hills with frequent rock outcrops and ledges.

My fear, after checking some of my old hunting spots during the meet, was that my favorite hunting area for plume agate would be hunted out.  I got a very pleasant surprise when I found that it had remained, or at least looked, untouched after all these years.

I found several nice – and very large – plume agates almost immediately when I parked and got out of the rig. A few of these were even better than I had found before because I could see they were plume without having to guess as I had to with the ones I picked up last time — and they were bigger!

Many of you from the forum are familiar with this picture of the last plumes I had cut.  This is what I went back after this time:

Owyhee yellow plume

Here’s a pic of a few of the agates I picked up this time around.

This pic is for a size reference for the stones I was picking up.

Owyhee Plume Agate

Below are the close ups.

These two agates are very obviously brown and yellow plume (obvious at least when you are right here holding them).

Owyhee plume1

Owyhee plume2

This next one looks like it will be mostly  white plume when cut – there is a little yellow/brown showing though.  Should make awesome slabs.

Owyhee wiite plume

Here’s another that should be a splendid mix of white and yellow plumes.

Owyhee Plume agate4

After seeing some of my favorite hunting spots wiped out – these agates were such a welcome sight.  I was able to visit my pink plume spot briefly but it was getting late and I was tired and had another tire issue to attend.  I did pick up one relatively close to the size of these, but maybe a little too milky to be really wonderful when cut despite the pink tint here and there. Unfortunately,  I had to head out and didn’t get much time to look around.

I was disappointed to have to forgo the areas I still wanted to hunt a few miles further west – Apache tears, crystals, wood, etc.  but very heartened after finding these agates that I will be able to go there next time and still have a great hunt ahead of me.  So for all of you who were too tired to stay for the hunt Monday, or just didn’t have any more time……..there’s still area out there for us to get together again and hunt!

RHS1 2014 Meet-Up Trip Report – Succor Creek

RHS1 2014 Meet-Up Trip Report – Succor Creek

The 2014 meet-up was a great success. It was wonderful seeing everyone’s smiling faces.

Um, oops.  Here we go.

Of course, the joke gets a little lost when you consider how you actually find  the members where they’re out in the field. RHS1 members are real good at recognizing other members both coming and going.

Members started rolling into the Succor Creek campgrounds mid-week for Memorial day weekend. The  general region and campground hadn’t changed too much since I lived in the region almost a decade ago.

By the time I got there on Saturday, the others were already driving with full loads of rocks from Graveyard Point and a few other sites near the Oregon/Idaho border that they visited in the day or two before I arrived.

This year’s leader, Tony (member, catmandewe) was thoroughly familiar with the region and led the crew to huge amounts of some of the areas best agates and jaspers.   The blue opal thundereggs dig seemed to be the generally favorite site, and was the first I got to join in.   The sun was hot, but the digging was easy and the prizes were beautiful.

After the relatively easy drive to the thundereggs, we set off on a little more rugged trip out to a few jasper sites, one, a pink jasper site which Tony set for claim while we were there. The region is some of the most beautiful desert I’ve ever seen, and it was hard to keep an eye out for ruts and rocks in the road with the panoramic beauty to absorb while driving.

During the day we collected pink, blue and brown, and multicolored jaspers.  While I picked up mostly jasper I could carry in my bag with ease, some were looking for sizes that would be suitable for bigger projects.  They found what they were looking for.  The region has no lack of jasper boulders.

Saturday night back at camp, members unloaded the rock they had brought with them and we had a rock swap.  Everyone was more than generous with the caches they brought out for the others to choose from.

By Sunday the crew was getting a little worn from their days of hunting, and a few headed home, while others headed back to get some more of those beautiful blue opals.  I got to head into town to get a tire changed out.   I wasn’t the only tire casualty on the trip.

I got back in time to join a few of the die-hard members out at the opal diggs, but wandered off to regions south of the park where I used to love to hunt.  Unfortunately,  the areas have been listed in books and were pretty well picked over when I got there.   Some of the back roads were steep enough and rutted enough I thought better about trying out on my own, so with sunlight waning, I returned to camp and talked with a few old friends and a few new ones at the fireside.  A lot of the members had already left, and those remaining were well worn and very happy.   Everyone left with as much rock as their rigs would carry.

My thanks go to the members, mirage, drocknut, boxofrocks, coldwatergold, Tom, orygone, and bsky4463 (I hope I got everyone)  for posting their  pictures so you could enjoy our meet-up vicariously.  A special thanks to Tony (catmandewe), owner of for setting up such an awesome tour for us this year.   It’s going to be a hard one to top next year!