Bits and pieces

•October 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hola amigos!

Just an update this time, summer is again over and the rather hectic daily routine is about wrapped up.  My apologies for not posting something for your entertainment, have been busy with other things.

I have to make a plug here for a great tribute magazine to the old Desert! mag, which always had lots of great treasure stories, natural history, photos etc of the great American southwest.  The new magazine is Dezert and in some ways is superior to the old one, better photography and great articles.  If like me, you love the southwest, I highly recommend you check it out; here is their website:

http://dezertmagazine.com/

I have not been able to keep up on the various treasure forums too well, seems to be the usual patterns so it is rather difficult to have a serious treasure discussion.   One thing has struck me however that seems curious, which is the number of fellows whom are active on the treasure forums, and have NO interest in the cash value of the treasure(s) or lost mines they are seeking.  They say they are only interested in the history.   I do not understand this, for most lost mines and many treasures have little historical value, and great monetary value.   Even if a long-lost mine is found, it rarely rates more than a paragraph on a back page of a local newspaper for fame.  There are exceptions of course like Tayopa or the Lost Dutchman which are much more famous.  However I wonder if some of these fellows are not being entirely honest about their true motivation in seeking these lost treasures?   Perhaps they are and it is me that is the oddball.

Speaking of the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine, another rather surprising thing to me is that so few treasure hunters seem to be interested in the “other” lost Dutchman mines in Arizona.  There is one in the Wickenburg/Vulture area, somewhere near Vulture peak;  this mine was found in a quartz blowout, and the finder was apparently killed by Apaches.  His remains were found near Vulture peak, along with a little pile of very rich ore similar to what he had been seen selling in Wickenburg, and a small gold prospect was near by, yet this prospect had ore very different and much poorer grade so could not have been his mine.

Then there is the lost Dutchman mine up near Prescott; this German was named Youngblood, and he came from Missouri to try to make his fortune as he was in danger of losing his farm there.  After searching for quite some time, nearly destitute and utterly discouraged, he sat down on a rock in despair.  At that moment he noticed that the rock he was sitting on was white quartz loaded with gold!  Youngblood mined out a small fortune and returned to Missouri, I presume he managed to save his farm as he is later listed on the census as living there, never returned to Arizona to his mine again.

Do any treasure hunters go looking for either of these lost bonanzas?  As far as I could learn, no.   I had the pleasure of spending some time hunting for them on my last trip to the southwest, and never ran into another prospector – just hikers and deputy sheriffs who seem to have thought Mrs O and I were a couple of dangerous desperados.   I may write up an article on these mines for in my opinion a treasure hunter often has a better chance of success with a less famous, little known lost mine or treasure, than one of the famous ones which have been hunted for a century or more by many thousands of treasure hunters like the Lost Dutchman of the Superstition mountains.

rich gold ore from Colorado

roasted rich gold ore from Cripple Creek, Colorado, image borrowed from Wikipedia commons at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Roasted_Cripple_Creek_gold_ore_2.jpg Just included this to get your prospector blood pumping. :)

Well good luck and good hunting amigos, I will try to post something interesting for you when I get back from Arizona.  I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Oroblanco

The Lost Stone Cabin

•February 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

One of the lesser known lost mines of the Black Hills is the Lost Stone Cabin mine.

The sources are sketchy on this lost mine, but the basic story is that an old prospector got lucky up in the Bear Lodge district, in the northern end of the Black Hills. He had found a rich gold deposit that looked to be a lifetime’s worth of work but would make him a very rich man. The area did not have much timber so he built a small but substantial stone cabin close to the mine, so that he would be able to survive the harsh winters at his mine in some comfort, and provide some protection against hostile Indians in case he should be attacked at his mine.

The old prospector then made a trip to town to purchase supplies for the winter, and on returning, could not find his own mine or his cabin! He searched for a while and becoming desperate, headed for Deadwood to enlist aid in locating his own mine. He managed to gather a group of helpers to return to the Bear Lodge with him and hunt for his mine, but they were un-successful in finding either the mine or the cabin. The search party broke up and returned to Deadwood.

The old man made a number of repeated attempts to locate his mine again, and never was able to find it. Finally he drifted out of the area and I could find no trace of where he went.

The Bear Lodge gold district of northeastern Wyoming is not known for rich gold veins, in fact most gold deposits of that area have proved to be small in extent and hardly economic to work. However the geology does not rule out the possibility of a rich vein (or more than one) could exist there, as the old man claimed – and he had gold to sell when he came into town, which had to come from somewhere. It only makes sense that he would not have made up such a story as to lose his own mine, and then to proceed to go back in search of it time and again.

Somewhere in the remote canyons of the Bear Lodge of northeastern Wyoming, the old stone cabin is probably still standing, waiting for some lucky treasure hunter to find it, and rediscover the rich gold mine with it.

Good luck and good hunting to you amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
Oroblanco

Sources:
Lost Gold, Mildred Fielder
US Treasure Atlas, Vol 10, Thomas Terry,
The Black Hills Weekly Pioneer, Deadwood City, Dakota Territory

President John F. Kennedy assassination

•November 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president Kennedy, which took place in Dallas Texas on November 22nd, 1963.

For decades, we have been told that the lone nut assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, whom supposedly fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, three rounds from an Italian army surplus Mannlicher-Carcano, caliber 6.5mm. The gun found on that floor of the Book Depository was that make, and three empty cartridges were found near the window – and one live round was the chamber.

Why have all of our major news media continued to press this lie upon the public?

Oswald was seen on the second floor of that building, minutes before the shooting, in the lunch room apparently eating lunch, and seen by a second witness in the same location minutes after the shooting, now with a fresh bottle of soda pop that he was drinking. The rifle itself cannot have been the weapon used to kill the president on several grounds. Firstly, the Mannlicher-carcano cannot be loaded with more than one round at a time without the inclusion of a stripper clip, which is a small metal clip that holds the rounds in the magazine – without it, you must load one round at a time by hand into the chamber. No stripper clip was found when the evidence was collected, and anotehr interesting point about the stripper clip is that when you cycle the last round in it, into the chamber, the stripper clip falls out of the bottom of the rifle. Yet no stripper clip is listed on the evidence found on the sixth floor. In fact ten years later, when people had started raising issues about it, then a stripper clip is added to the evidence. Then there is the scope on the gun – it was broken! Now maybe it is possible to shoot a gun accurately with a busted scope, but there is yet another problem, that is that the scope was not even sighted in. In fact, the government investigators had to add two metal shims to the scope to even get it sighted in, to perform their tests! NO ONE could have made those shots, from a sixth floor window at a moving target, through the leaves of live oak trees that partially blocked the view of the presidential limousine.

Even if you stick oto the belief that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, which any decent defense lawyer could have easily proven him innocent, then the murder was the work of our own American Intelligence Agencies! Oswald was a Marine, but he had been quietly entered into a fake Communist defector program, even got training in the Russian language, and has links to the Office of Naval Intelligence and CIA. Even the FBI caught it that there were problems with Oswald well before the assassination, as a memo from none other than Hoover himself stated that someone else was using Oswald’s passport and birth certificate in the USA. Then there is his fake defection – how could he have pulled such a stunt, then be allowed back into the USA, and not just himself but his Russian wife as well?

Oswald knew Jack Ruby, David Ferrie, former FBI spook Guy Bannister and possibly Clay Shaw as well; in fact he was “working” out of the same building as Guy Bannister’s secret anti-Cuban program was being run when Oswald was in the staged scene of a fight for having passed out pro-Castro leaflets.

Then what abotu motieve? Lee Harvey Oswald had NO motive for killing JFK. According to several of the conspirators, JFK was killed for being a Communist, the very thing Oswald was being set up to appear to be. Oswald “confessed” to having attempted to assassinate General Erwin Walker, a Fascist. Why would a Communist sympathizer, wish to kill a Communist sympathizing president? It makes no sense.

Some of the conspirators are still alive and could be prosecuted. Why will no law enforcement investigators press forward and prsoecute them? The Congressional investigation into the JFK assassination concluded that it was almost ertainly a conspiracy, yet our news media continues to prattle on with the Warren Commission fairy tale. Jim Garrison, so far the only one to ever prosecute any of the conspirators, was publicly attacked and ridiculed, his character assassinated in an attempt to silence his investigation. Would we stand by and say nothing, if this were a case of some person that murdered a person of another race? Yet we are stalled, frozen and impotent to do anything about one of the greatest disgraces to our nation in all history.

Thank you to all of you whom have pressed on in investigating this assassination, in the face of official stonewalling, ridicule and even personal danger, as we saw with the case of nationally famous reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, whom had interviewed Jack Ruby and announced that she would “blow the lid off” the case, only to be murdered, and both copies of her notes vanished even though one copy was kept with a trusted friend, whom also died mysteriously within two days of Kilgallen’s death. Don’t give up, researchers, slowly the truth is coming out, and even our news media will have to admit it one day.

I highly recommend a book for anyone interested in the JFK assassination – “They Killed Our President” by former governor Jesse Ventura, with the assistance of Dick Russell and David Wayne. In it, he presents 63 different proofs that it was a conspiracy and that Oswald could not have been the killer. Vincent Bugliosi should be ashamed to be the current mouthpiece publicly protecting the conspirators still living, by his defense of their fictional lone-nut assassin theory.

It has been fifty years since that tragic day; high time that some of the vicious men who plotted and executed a coup detat in America should pay for their crimes.
Oroblanco

The Lost Cabin Mine -(s)-

•September 14, 2013 • 2 Comments

For many years, the most famous lost mine in the USA was the Lost Cabin mine.
Lost Cabin?

Long before the Lost Dutchman gold mine grew to become the most well known lost mine in America, several other lost mines were the object of many a determined search, numerous newspaper articles and even books.  Many lost their lives in the search, for the western wilds were not quite the same as they are today.  The lost Pegleg Smith, Breyfogle and even before these the silver mines of Jonathan Swift were being hunted, and the lost Cabin mine was (arguably) the most famous of the 1800s.

One of the problems inherent in hunting the Lost Cabin mine is that there are in fact several of them!  There was one in Colorado, found and lost more than once, or the lost cabin mine of the Black HIlls, also found by happenstance repeatedly only to be lost again when the finders could not return to the site.  Then there is the lost stone cabin of the Bear Lodge country, the northwestern portion of the Black Hills, which was lost by the owner himself when he made a  trip out for supplies and on returning, could not find his cabin or his mine.

The famous one however is somewhere in the Bighorn country of Wyoming, and with a small area in adjoining Montana where the mountain chain extends into that state.  Like the others, it too has been found on several occasions, in fact there is even a place named Lost Cabin (Wyoming) for a long abandoned cabin found there with the skeletal remains of two prospectors, whom had apparently fallen into quarreling and killed each other, but the location of their mine has not been found.  Several famous frontiersmen have claimed that they had seen the lost Cabin mine, including the renowned Kit Carson himself – but he was convinced that the mine and cabin were in the Black Hills, not the Bighorns.

Geologically, the Bighorn mountain range is very similar to the Black Hills, however missing the gold deposits.  That there is gold in these mountains however is not a matter of dispute, just not generally in paying quantities.  The Wyoming legend has it that seven Swedes had first discovered the mine, built themselves a cabin to live in for winters are severe in these mountains, set up a flume to divert the water from the stream at a waterfall, only to be suddenly ambushed by hostile Indians who killed all of the men but one.  The lone survivor struggled across country for three nights, traveling only at night, to arrive at Fort Reno, where he told the sad tale and showed some of the gold he had recovered.  In spring, joined by a larger force of new partners, they set out to return to the mine.  Unfortunately for them the plains Indians were then at war, and the party was not heard of for some time.  Later, their remains were found, as they had been attacked and killed to a man by the Indians.  None survived, and the secret of the location of the mine and the cabin were lost to the grave.

Others have stumbled across the remains of the cabin, which the Indians had burned, then trekked out to report of their discovery; this was reported in newspapers several times in the last hundred years, however in each case, the party that found the mine and cabin, was then unable to relocate the site on returning.

The Thoen Stone

 
The Thoen Stone
(from the Rapid City Journal article at http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/spearfish/lookout-mountain-in-spearfish-will-cyclists-love-it-to-death/article_2af94077-3e1c-5af3-a475-18947a7ad162.html )

Could the legend of the Thoen Stone be linked to the lost Cabin mine?  The Thoen stone was found in South Dakota on Lookout mountain near Spearfish, in 1887.  The stone was inscribed on both sides in English, which I will post:

“Came to these hills in 1833
seven of us
all died but me Ezra Kind

DeLacompt
Ezra Kind
G.W. Wood
T. Brown
R. Kent
Wm. King
Indian Crow

killed by Indians beyond the high hill
got our gold June 1834″

The reverse side read:

“Got all of the gold we could carry
our ponys all got by Indians
I have lost my gun and nothing to eat
and Indians hunting me.”

Evidence that others had been mining in the Black Hills well before the official discovery of gold in 1874 turned up for decades, picks, shovels, even guns of old type (flintlocks) were found by early miners.  Clearly someone had been mining there, which does support the story found on the Thoen stone.  Researcher Frank Thomson carefully checked the records and found evidence supporting the names listed as belonging to men who went west searching for gold in 1832, and were never heard of again, with the exception of “Indian Crow” which may not have been a name, rather a Crow Indian.  The Crow tribe owned the Black Hills prior to the invasion by other tribes, and were usually friendly with the ‘whites’ so it would not be a great surprise if a Crow had acted as guide for Ezra Kind’s group.

The Thoen Stone makes no mention of any cabin, but it is logical that they should have some shelter built.   Could this be the lost Cabin mine?  True, the survivor of the seven Swedes who went into the Bighorn mountains is fairly well documented, which would point to the lost Cabin mine being in those mountains rather than the Black Hils, but then too, Kit Carson himself claimed that the mine and cabin were in the Black Hills, that the route in from the south, had a point where you would turn east to the Black Hills rather than west to the Bighorns.

Perhaps the truth is that there really are several lost Cabin mines; that it was not unusual for prospectors living on a wild frontier to build a cabin for shelter, and this becomes part of the story when the mine is lost.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the Lost Cabin gold mine – and send me photos of your find!
Oroblanco

An update

•March 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hola mi amigos,

My apologies for not posting something here sooner, or I should say for not posting something interesting here for so long.  As you may know, Beth and I have been fairly  busy since last fall, but now spring is arriving and we will be back in our usual haunts with more time to spend online.  Not a lot of internet access in the deserts, though we now have a way to get online occasionally if there is enough of a cell signal and the batteries are charged up.  Anyway have new stories to tell, will try to post something good for you when we are back online.  In the meantime, I did post something on my old blog, just to kind of explain what and why we do what we do, which has been tough to try to explain to many friends and relatives.  In case you don’t have that link here it is:

http://oroblanco.blogspot.com

It has been a most pleasant winter for us, many discoveries and adventures.  Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Roy ~ Oroblanco

 

Epitaph for Old Treasurenet Forum, R.I.P.

•March 29, 2012 • 13 Comments

Rest In Peace Old Treasurenet

Rest In Peace old Treasurenet Forum

So long old friend

The largest and what was the best site on the internet for talking with fellow treasure hunters and prospectors has gone through a change of ownership and a major metamorphosis, but not a positive one.

With over 32,000 members, Treasurenet was the most popular treasure forum on the internet for some time.  I had joined it about 1995, but after a couple of years left it due to the hostile attitude of a couple of members, but those members were thrown out and I re-joined the site in 2005.  I do not hesitate to confess that I spent many an evening reading the fascinating and entertaining posts from our fellow treasure hunters, and swapped stories and great information.  More than once, an evening visit to Treasurenet to catch up on the latest treasure gossip was a high point on an otherwise dark day.  In that membership were many very experienced and knowledgable experts, most of them happy to offer helpful advice for the asking.

We knew that the site was likely to get sold as the owner needed to sell it, but never expected that anyone would “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” for a site that is SO popular and has many thousands of visitors, generates income from advertising and some of the members even paid for a ‘charter’ sort of membership.  We were in that last category.  It would not have been a great surprise to see some changes made, but not the complete change that was done – for the new owners pulled the plug on the site, left it down for a day or so, then put it back up online under a completely different operating system known as “V-bulletin” which is the one used by most forums on the internet.  No polls or survey questionnaires had been sent to the members to find out if they liked the old system or would they prefer a new one, or what features or functions they liked or disliked, just suddenly one night it is gone, then reappears as a different creature entirely.

The old forum operating system was known as “phpBB” <I believe>  and is open source, meaning that if you are a capable programmer, you can make modifications to the operating system to suit the needs or wishes of your customers, or in this case members.  Did the buyers not notice that the operating system and format on Treasurenet was different from all the rest, and the huge membership?   Couldn’t they see a connection there, that the operating system the new owners hate so much, might have been one of the main attractions for the members and visitors because it was SO easy to use?

Probably they could see that and knew it, for they openly stated they were confident they would not lose more than one to three percent of the members and new ones would replace them, so the old ‘true blue’ members were really just a number in an equation for them with no more meaning or factor than the number in a telephone number.  The new owners do not know the members (nor vice versa) and did not make any effort to get to know them; from what I can judge, they do not appear to be treasure hunters or prospectors, nor arrowhead hunters or bottle diggers, not coin roll hunters or armchair adventurers – they are what is popularly termed “technogeeks” who like forums for the computing challenge not for talking with treasure hunters.  The members and their wants simply do not matter to them, unless it is some widget in their beloved V-bulletin system that they can then tweak and diddle.

I can only speak for myself, and did not like the new format and system at first glance but thought I would give it a little time, maybe the new owners would see this is a mistake and go back, or at least change the format enough to come as close to duplicating the old, user friendly and easy system as was possible.  I noticed that some other members were posting grumbles and complaints, which the new administrators and moderators seemed to be scrambling to correct and adjust – but only where it involved tweaking some part of the new format, not replacing the popular tools found in the old system.  When we asked what was so wrong with the old phpBB system, we were told that it “had to go some where” and was so bad, so insecure.  I did not catch the lies they were giving at first, but when I asked them about one of the main functions that I used a great deal (and did not realize how much, before that moment) a tool that would allow you to pull up a list of all the threads that you had posted in which had gotten new posts in ONE click called “new replies” or “unread replies” the new owners and managers had no idea what I was even talking about.  They did not know it because they had never even tried the old system they had killed and said was so horrible.  Hmm.

Then the nasty and sarcastic remarks from the supporters of the new owners toward any member that made a complaint started to grate on me; for in the supporters view, if you love the new format they were happy, if you hate it then you must not be smart enough to run a remote for your TV.  Not a great public relations method for dealing with unhappy customers.  Apparently the new owners are not aware of the old principle of KISS= Keep It Simple Stupid –  for they have quite a complicated system for the users now.  That attitude and crystal clear policy from the new ownership, that we members have to either love it or leave it because they have killed the old and widely popular Treasurenet and refuse to even consider the idea of returning to the popular format really rubbed me the wrong way.

The new owners and moderators repeatedly kept saying “give us more time” or “wait a week” but then I noticed they admitted that no more changes were going to be made, period.  The repeated requests for “more time” are just a game, waiting for the members to “get used to it” or get left behind as they said in so many words, not a time period for them to try to undo the giant mistake of changing the format and system.  I guess we were supposed to be stupid and not see the game.

Probably I should have simply quit the forum outright, but if I do, I will lose contact with a large number of friends.  So I left my membership active only so I can have a way to keep in touch with those friends, but will certainly not renew a charter membership and just as certainly will not spend much time there, as I find myself getting angry at just trying to find the various discussions that I was interested in and participating in.   The all new Treasurenet is definitely not the old animal, not by a long shot – it is more complex, much more fiddling and diddling with the settings and controls are involved just to use it, and some of us have only limited amounts of time to be online.  I don’t need to go to a treasure forum to get angry and frustrated.  I don’t think that I am the only member feeling much the same way either.

If you would live to visit the all new Treasurenet, here is the link;

Treasurenet

I can’t recommend it for anything but headache or heartburn, but if you love to fiddle with lots and lots of settings and tweak adjustments, it may be fun for you.  If you want to try to have a discussion that is treasure related however, brace yourself for a lot of aggravation.

There are other treasure forums of course, some are pretty good – thunting.com looks like it might fill the ticket for treasure hunters, or the old Lost Dutchman Gold Mine forum that seemed to have gone less active in recent years may revive with interest and new members.  Lost Treasure magazine has a forum again too, so there is hope for us treasure hunters to have places where we can swap tall stories or ask questions and tell jokes that non-treasure hunters could not understand.  We can’t very well get together around the campfire, even though that would be really great.  But I just wanted to acknowledge what a great web site the old Treasurenet was, it is all too true that you never know what you had until it is gone.

The old Treasurenet was great while it lasted, I really enjoyed the time I spent there and the great people I got to talk to.   It is now history and will never return.  Rest in peace good old Treasurenet, many of us will remember what a great spot you were for a gathering of the treasure hunters.  Sad to see you gone.

We will miss you!

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
Oroblanco
PS almost forgot, here are the links for some of the other forums,

Thunting.com – this one is getting HIGH MARKS in my book, wish I had paid more attention to it sooner, but with limited time to be online, I can only really follow one forum and keep up so did not see how great this one is before now:

Thunting.com

Lost Treasure magazine forum – the BEST treasure magazine period,(don’t take my word for it read it and see!)  the forum is still growing,

Lost Dutchman Gold Mine forum, an oldie but a goodie, LOADS of Dutchman info you won’t find elsewhere, a bit more focused on the Lost Dutchman, Peralta Stones and the Superstitions than others but worth checking out

DesertUSA a forum that covers all aspects of our beautiful desert southwest, including gold and treasure hunting but also camping, hiking, exploring, gardening etc; a smaller group but much good information; I had personally dropped out of this one due to a difference of opinion but have returned with no regrets

There are many, many others out there, I am only scratching the surface.

Legends of Lost Silver Mines in Pennsylvania?

•January 19, 2012 • 2 Comments

Legends of Lost Silver Mines in Pennsylvania – could they possibly be TRUE?

Stories of lost mines, ledges and glory holes full of precious metals are rather pervasive, most every area has at least one such story. One of the poorest parts of North America for such stories is the Keystone state.

The geology of Pennsylvania is not of the right sort for the discovery of rich veins of gold and silver, great wealth in coal, oil and even such mundane mineral products as limestone have been the rule. Yet the state is not utterly devoid of gold or silver either; in the southeastern part of the state one mine produced almost all of the known gold production for the entire state, mostly as a byproduct of copper mining, and a couple of silver mines produced a little silver. Enough nickel was also mined to be used by the US Mint to make the now obsolete three cent nickels, so if you are lucky enough to own a three cent nickel, chances are it has Pennsylvania nickel in it. Not one of the three cent silver pieces of course.

Even so, despite the wrong sort of geology over most of the state, why then do we find there are indeed several stories of long lost silver mines? Pure hogwash, made up to earn a free beer in a tavern, or entertain the children, or cover up some illicit activity like making moonshine, perhaps? Perhaps, but there is evidence and documentation to support the fact that there are indeed several lost silver mines scattered across the state. Not massive veins like the famous Comstock mind you, but small deposits and these are not against the rules of geology by any means.

The actual records from the colonial period show that these mines were known to the native tribes that lived in and contested over the land. There is even some suggestion that two of the mines were known to the French, whom were secretly mining them and slipping back to Canada to convert the silver into cash.

Silver medallion struck from silver mined out of the Wheatley silver-lead mine in Chester county PA

PA Silver Wheatley Medallion

PA silver medallion from the Wheatley mine

A bit of study in the field of geology would help any treasure hunter or prospector setting out to look for one of these lost silver mines. Silver does not often occur in nature in the pure form, because of the fact that it is much more chemically reactive than gold or platinum, yet it does occur in native (natural) form, often alloyed with a little gold and – or copper. The ores of silver quite often do not look anything like silver, and then too some silver minerals do look silvery and metallic, like galena. Galena is mostly lead, but very often in nature some or almost all of the metallic lead in the matrix has been replaced by silver. Galena is silver colored and cubic in form, and rather heavy. You can find small pieces of it in many streams around the state, and while in many cases the presence of this metallic mineral in such a place where no metallic minerals ought to be can be explained by the actions of glaciers, which broke off the minerals from a distant location (generally to the north) and transported it to the south where it then deposited it when the ice finally melted away, to leave us puzzling as to how this out of place mineral ended up where we find them.

Most ores of silver are black, grey or brown in color; usually tending to be heavy and often sooty, so could be mistaken for a low grade coal vein from a distance. Silver can also occur in a quartz matrix just like gold or copper does, or uncommonly in the form of a heavy, sticky blue or bluish clay. The famous Comstock mine in Nevada was discovered first as the blue clay, which was giving the gold miners headaches by clogging up their sluice boxes. Only when some prospector finally had the blue clay itself tested by fire assay did the secret come out, that it was loaded with silver. The blue clay may be what the ore decomposes into, but I am specularing on this point.

Silver ores are commonly found intruded into limestone rock, showing up by the stains it makes in the surrounding rock; sometimes it will form a stain on the surface of the rock without the actual ore showing on the surface, and the staining is commonly called a “gossan” in prospecting parlance. I will return to the prospecting tips in a moment.

From what the stories tell us, these lost Pennsylvania silver mines are not going to be easy to find. In several instances, the Indians went to some lengths to conceal the very existence of the mines, so well that in one case, even though several colonists had seen it and been to the mine, after it was concealed they could not locate it again. Silver, unlike gold, does not usually form a placer downhill and downstream of the host rock. When rock containing native gold is worn down and decomposed by nature, the tiny bits of gold get transported down hill and then down stream by the actions of nature, allowing the prospector to be able to take his gold pan and take samples along the streams and then hillsides, and thus pinpoint the location of the gold vein. No so with silver! Except in very rare instances (I know of only two such in all of North America) due to the fact that silver will react with other minerals chemically, as the host rock decomposes, the silver forms chemical bonds and is invisible so to speak. It can be there and not be visible in a gold pan. What can a prospector do?

Don’t throw out the gold pan, it is possible that you might find tiny specks of native silver in some stream that could conceivably lead you to the vein; at least one of the lost silver mines of Pennsylvania had native silver in it , and silver is quite a dense metal. I am using the term ‘dense’ to refer to the fact that it is quite heavy, about the same as lead, this density is usually termed by prospectors as specific gravity; that is how heavy any particular element or mineral is when compared to an equal volume of water. So gold has a specific gravity of around 19 (it varies due to the other metals commonly alloyed with gold in nature, usually silver and copper) lead is a bit over 11, while native silver usually runs 10.4 to 10.6. This natural heaviness (when compared to water and many other materials) is helpful for panning, for most country rock and sand, while heavier than water, are much lighter in comparison to silver. So you could find a silver vein by testing with the ancient tool known as the gold pan – and don’t let anyone fool you, the gold pan is still used by prospectors, geologists and mining engineers today for it works very well.

As these silver mines were covered up and concealed in the colonial period, there has been plenty of time for nature to help with the concealment; trees would have had over 200 years to grow right over top of them, the natural erosion and deposition of soils would further assist in erasing the traces of the mine. If the mine were originally a shaft sunk into the rock (as one actually was, more in a moment) it is quite possible that nature has entirely filled in the shaft with earth by now and could even have a huge tree growing out of it. A tunnel could have caved in, leaving no trace except for a slight depression on the flank of a mountain, and unfortunately the hills of Pennsylvania have a great many wrinkles to help hide them.

Don’t let this discourage you! A careful search, using the tools of prospecting, geological reports, satellite imagery, research of the colonial records and even family histories, stories told around the campfires or even something seen by a hunter could be the key to lead you to finding a silver mine!

Now suppose you have found a suspicous looking vein or lense of rock, that is dark or grey and heavy; how can you test it for silver without having to break off a sample, crush it to quarter inch size or smaller and send it off for a fire assay? A fire assay is the best bet and highly accurate, but they cost money and you certainly can’t afford to send off every rock you find to have it assayed, for if you are that wealthy you would not be out hunting for a long-lost silver mine in the first place! Fortunately there are some simple ways you can test for silver without having to spend a lot of money.

One trick is to grind up your sample to a powder, then take a piece of copper that you have rubbed until it is shiny clean, and then rub that piece of copper around in the powdered ore sample. A copper wire will do, or a piece of soft copper pipe (don’t use the hard copper pipe as it is alloyed, and may not work as well). Very often, if silver in present in the sample, it will turn the copper white. If this occurs, then take another sample and get a fire assay done.

Another way is to try primitive smelting, if you have a bellows or a charcoal forge, in which case you would again want to grind the sample to a powder and heat it on a shovel or other iron receptable to nearly a white heat; any silver that can be extracted by heat alone will melt out before the shovel will melt because silver has a lower melting point than iron or steel. One more method is to put a hunk of the ore sample on your shovel, heat it very hot and then drop it into a bucket of water; supposedly if silver is present in the rock, it will form a grey scum on top of the water; however personally this method has never worked well for me but it might work for you.

Lastly, make sure you get permission of the landowners before you start looking for the lost mine, for most of Pennsylvania is private land and you don’t need to get arrested for trespassing, or worse a load of rock salt in your breeches! Just kidding but do ask permission before you search and it will save a lot of problems. Don’t be surprised if you get chuckles from a non-treasure hunter if you explain what you are looking for, for most people think that anyone who would go looking for lost mines or buried treasures is a little loopy, but with a little luck, and a lot of diligence, you may well have the last laugh. Besides, the search is an experience that those who live inside of boxes and never step off pavement can never know.

Nice photos of some silver ores http://nevada-outback-gems.com/prospect/gold_specimen/Silver_ores.htm

A free online book on prospecting for gold and silverhttp://books.google.com/books?id=CPZDAAAAYAAJ&dq=prospecting%20for%20silver&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false 

Historically, the Wheatley mine and the Pequea mine both produced some silver, the Pequea silver mine near Conestoga in Lancaster County was worked from before the Revolutionary War to 1875. A minor amount of mining was done about 1900. The ore is silver-bearing galena in the Cambrian Vintage Dolomite. Production is unknown. The Wheatley mine started operation in 1851. Primarily a lead mine, for economic reasons Wheatley billed the operation as a lead and silver mine. Concentrations of silver in the galena ore were assayed at between 15 and 120 ounces per ton. That would be pretty valuable ore today, so get out there amigo and find some silver!

Oroblanco

PS – one other thing about using that gold pan in your search, don’t be surprised if you find some GOLD in there too for those glaciers brought down gold from the north, as well as DIAMONDS!  If you see a shiny, greasy looking pebble that will scratch your knife blade there is a good chance it is a glacial diamond, over 50 of them have been found in PA over the years, and a brassy yellow metal needs no further explanation.  Good luck and good hunting, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Online museum of Pennsylvania minerals, including silver;

http://www.pennminerals.com/museum.htm

 
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