Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enchanted in the Land of Enchantment Part 1

For many years now Beth and I have been going to New Mexico. I was once again blessed to get to spend a four day weekend there. They call it the Land of enchantment and there is reason for the name. On this visit I realized why they call it this. Every where, and I mean every where you look there is an intimate setting that is a prime photograph. Every square inch of the state is a perfect photo opportunity.

We flew into Albuquerque in the late afternoon on Friday. Our first stop was to visit our good friend Tim O' Neil in Madrid. That is Mad rid not Ma drid. Madrid is located on highway 14 also know as the Turquoise Trail. There are numerous turquoise mines along this stretch of highway but you have to know where to look.

We arrived at Tim's House on Waldo Mesa just above Madrid in time to watch the sunset reflected back out onto the desert and mountains to the East.

Fortunately for me, Tim has a turquoise claim in Cerrillios. Cerrillios turquoise is very highly prized by Native Americans. Durning the conquest of Mexico, the Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma greeted Cortez wearing a breast plate made of Cerrillios turquoise. (Yes, it is Moctezuma not Montazuma as most Gringos think) The Spanish not only hungered for gold and silver, they also wanted the beautiful blue green gem they saw in Moctezuma's breast plate.

Now if any of you want to have the same adventure as me, I can put you in touch with Tim. For a very reasonable fee he can take you out to his claim and you can mine some for yourself. You would never find the mine without him taking you there. It is very far into BLM land and requires four wheel drive and keys to numerous gates with in the BLM land.

There are many crossing over washes. These washes cross the road numerous times and if it rains these dry washes can become raging rivers in seconds.

The Cerrillios Mining District has been worked hard in modern times. There are old works all over the area. Very few mines are active today. Only small scale mines like Tim's are worked today. The native people have also worked mines here long before the white man arrived. Remember, Moctezuma's turquoise came from right here. This tailings pile was the main gold mine in the ghost town of Cash Entry.

At one time three thousand people lived in Cash Entry. They worked the gold mines or in the stamp mill that got the gold out of the ore. Today only a few buildings and foundations remain.

Getting out here is not easy. The road is very rough and without knowing where you going, you would think that there is nothing to find out here.

We parked the truck and got ready to hike into the claim. As soon as my boots hit the ground there was a nice piece right there next to the truck. It does not look like much now, but just you wait and see what happen to this fine little nugget.

There are a few ways to mine turquoise on Tim's claim. Tim will not allow you to mine in the main shaft, it is just too dangerous. The vein can be seen running vertical on the far side of the shaft. This shaft was dug by the Indians and then filled back in. Tim has been slowly digging it back out.

The way to find large nuggets of turquoise is to sift the tailings used to fill three other pre historic shafts still waiting to be dug back out. Large chunks were discarded in search of huge pieces. All these pieces are just waiting to be found again.

Laying right on the surface are small chips. I found these in about two minutes time.

Here are just a few of my finds. In the rear you see some specimen pieces. Nice paper weights. In the foreground you see some nice chunks found in the sifter. I forgot to mention Cerrillios turquoise comes in colors besides blue. There is dark green, light green, white, dark blue, and sky blue.

As I said earlier, there are many old works around. This very deep shaft is also on Tim's claim. It is over 180 feet deep. This is an abandoned gold mine. The vein of ore can be seen on the far side of the hole. It is slightly darker than the rest of the rock.

Here is some of the ore. The dark stuff is the ore. If you were to crush 100 tons of that you would extract an ounce of gold. If gold prices keeping going the way they are, Tim might have to get a stamp mill.

Now here are some of my finds. Tim ran these over his wet stones to expose the surface.

Remember the nugget I found when I got out of the truck? Now how does that look? Tim will be turning this into a peice of jewlery for me. I find it amazing that I found this in the ground and it is going to be turned into something of value.

Tim turns the rocks he digs into beautiful works of art. Here is a bag of concho belts he made.

He also makes necklaces, rings, and bracelets. He works in the Southwestern style but has a style all his own.

This is a brooch he is working on, which is the Mayan symbol for the year 2012. 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar. Tim can make just about anything you might want.

If you would like to, please check out Tim's website. http://www.tuffnuttraders.com/ If you would like to go out with him and dig some treasures of your own, drop me a line and I will put you in touch with him.


Sugarfoot said...

That is just too cool!

utee94 said...

Nice. I have some very cool turquoise belts and a turquoise hat band that came from the area. When you come visit Austin, I will let you wear one.


tinman54 said...

Hi Frank,Very cool, looks like a great trip. When I was younger my parents hauled the family all over the country looking for rocks and gems,we had a lot of great adventures from old copper mines in Michigan to diamond mines in Arizona,the history and exploring were a lot of fun.