New Bella Vista Plume Agate
One of my new claims located in the Graveyard Point area near Gene Mueller’s Regency Rose plume claim.
I’ve known about this location for a few years, but never got around prospecting and claiming it, until this year. It was a hot day in June, 2020 at Gene’s Regency claim. I came out to his claim to see Gene and Veronica and maybe help a little with the dig. It was a very hot day with no wind, therefore making it close to 100 degrees down in the pit. I decide to take a little break from the jackhammer and dust and hiked up the ridge to the old area and maybe take another look at the ground. Surprisingly, there was a good deal of float agate on the ground just wanting to be picked up. In fact, a good deal more than I remember being there years before…a good sign. There was an old road on the ridge which lead to an old dig site that looked rarely used. Judging by the pit disturbance, it looked as if they had used a backhoe perhaps to prospect around. Rubber tire backhoes are cheaper to rent, but lack any digging power in the hard basalt host rock. They also don’t have the deeper reach that an excavator can achieve. Walking about 100 yards from the tailing pile, I still see the float still looking pretty dang good! Picking one rock up, then hitting off an the edge, I see the plume structure is different than what I’ve seen at Graveyard. The agate was clear…another good sign. Walking back to the old tailing pile, I see it was pretty torn up by rockhounds scratching for agate. Judging what they left behind, it wasn’t that bad!…one more good sign. Walking around some more, I find a few very old claim posts on the ground. The bottom of the posts, were rotted off, being so dry out here in the Owyhee’s, they were probably pretty old. Hiking back down to Gene’s camp, I came upon a few small prospecting holes. A good deal of rockhounds have been up here hunting, so the area was not new, being so close to the traditional Graveyard area, it was not surprising. Back at Gene’s camp, I asked if he knew anything about the old dig on the ridge. Surprisingly, Gene said he wasn’t aware there was even anything up there!
Back home, I researched a little on the BLM site to see if there was an active claim. There were a few different claims made at the site, with different names, back in the 80/90’s. Then, they were abandon. A lot of times, people make mining claims only to realize the expense, risk and/or physical labor is more than they can handle. For example: A two week dig at a new claim site is roughly as follows; $4,000 excavator rental, $550 of diesel fuel, $500 for 5 new teeth for the excavator bucket, $1,500 BLM bonding, $150 food/water, $100 gasoline and $50 Misc. Wear and tear on the body…non-refundable. So, the site was open and now available. Judging by what I saw on the ground, tailings and the very little true digging done, I decided to take a chance. I sent in my claim paperwork.
The Graveyard point area is a very old rockhound area, dating back to its hay day in the 60/70’s. I was told by a few old timers that back then campers were everywhere during the Spring and Fall. People had their buckets and hammers vacuuming up agate float and digging holes everywhere. Then came the numerous claims made through the years, dropped, made again, abandon or held onto by people if only just to have a place to dig of their own.
With all my paperwork and notice to the BLM sent in and approved, I was ready for my new adventure. Unlike my other plume agate claims, Feather Ridge and Linda Marie, I decided not to let it be known that I had a new site to any of my customers. Mainly, because the site was really un-proven. I didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up and then find out it was a dud. A few trusted friends I let know, but otherwise it was “top secret”. My plan was to dig in late September and then into early October. It really starts to get hot in the Owyhee’s late May then into late August. Usually middle September, it begins to cool off enough to dig. Middle/Late October out here is a little unpredictable. So, planning on late September through beginning of October will be a safe bet.
I get a text from Gene wanting to know what my Fall dig plans were since he’s not planning on going to the Denver Show due to the plague the Chinese unleashed on us. I hadn’t told him yet of the new claim, I just wanted to get all my ducks in a row first. Being high risk, I think he’s getting mining fever after being forced to be cooped up at the shop. So, I tell him my news and invite him to come out and help me dig at the new claim. After a few weeks, he texted back: “All up coming shows are canceled, looking better for me to come out!” He’s getting excited like a little kid being told he can now go out and play with his friends.