A view of the Emerald Creek garnet collecting area. The dry screening area is in the front, the garnet pile is out of site on the right and the washing sluices are in the background.

The dry screening area where the coarse rocks and excess clay and sands are screened out of the garnet-bearing gravels.


A view of the two sluices where the fine clays are washed out of the garnet-bearing gravels and the garnets can be found in the clean gravels in the screens.

A closer view of the two sluices showing the water flowing out of the end and into the first settling pond.

For a brochure or other information contact the St. Joe Ranger Dist., PO Box 407, St. Maries, ID 83861, 208-245-2531, or on the web at the Idaho Panhandle National Forests web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/rec/activities/garnets/.

Spencer Opal Mine

The Spencer Opal Mine has been producing precious opal for more than 40 years and has operated as a fee dig area during most of this time. The mine is open to fee digging several weekends per summer. There also is a mine shop in Spencer, Idaho where opal can be "dug" from a mine-run ore pile, or opals purchased in their store.

Information is at: http://www.spenceropalmines.com.

Riggins area roadcuts

Zeolites can be collected in several roadcuts south of Riggins. The best areas are from about 1/2 mile north of mile post 176 up to mile post 178. These are along highway 95; there is parking in several spots. This stretch of the highway was reconstructed in 2000-2001 with the zeolite-bearing outcrops being blasted extensively. The completed cuts now have large benches and massive cliffs, offering few collecting opportunities. However, there are areas along the river below the work zone where boulders have been dumped below the road for erosion control and fill.

Zeolites and associated minerals include stilbite, analcime, chabazite, levyne, mesolite, mordenite, apophyllite, gyrolite, cowlesite, calcite and others. Most are small or tiny (micro), but some of the stilbite is up to about an inch long, mesolite hairs are up to more than an inch, and apophyllite and gyrolite has been found up to about 3/8 inch across.

The rock is a dark gray basalt, and in areas small cavities are abundant with micro crystals, and in other areas cavities are up to about 4 inches across and contain the larger crystals.

Dismal Swamp

This old time topaz and smoky quartz deposit has been worked by rockhounds since rockhounding began in earnest in the 1950s, and received some attention before that. The location is a depression in the mountains northeast of Boise. There is a swampy area with a creek to the north and one to the south. Both creeks have been dug in by collectors in search of topaz and smoky quartz. Collecting is mostly done by digging in the creeks and screening the gravels in search of the popular gems. Topaz is mostly a light yellowish to colorless with an occasional crystal having a pink color. Most crystals are under an inch, but they have been reported to several inches long. Smoky quartz crystals are commonly a few inches in length and often several inches.

The location is shown on the Boise National Forest map and is accessible from Featherville to Rocky Bar to the Trinity Mountains road, or up the Middle Fork of the Boise River road, then south on the Trinity Mountains road. The road that goes west, down to the collcting area is about 1 1/2 miles south of the junction of the Trinity Mountains road-Phifer Creek road with the road to Rocky Bar and Featherville.

This area is in a small pluton of pink granite which contains a few cavities lined with albite, microcline and smoky quartz. Rarely, aquamarine and topaz occur in these cavities. It is weathering of these rocks that produced the alluvial deposit of Dismal Swamp. The granite outcrops in the heavily forested area are massive and rounded with only a few old weathered cavities showing. Collecting in the rocks is rarely productive.

Moses Butte

About 20 miles east of Clarkia is a butte with several areas with garnet. Most of these are rounded almandine, sugary crystals, generally not suitable for specimens (except for those who want big, ugly specimens), and not gem quality. There also is an area with small red almandine-spessartine crystals. This page was prepared for a purpos other than this reference page. Later I hope to improve it so it is more suitable for this page.

See a field trip report to this area at: Moses Butte.

* Reference only localities *

Provided as a service to those who have specimens and would like a little information on the localities. Unfortunately, these are not open to collecting.

Coeur d'Alene Mining District

This mining district has produced mineral specimens for more than a hundred years. In the early years of mining, specimens of silver, anglesite, cerussite, pyromorphite, siderite and other minerals were abundant in the oxidized zones of the upper portions of the orebodies of the numerous mines of the district. After mining progressed through the oxidized ores, only massive sulfides have been mined. With a few exceptions, no minerals have been produced. Present day, occasional vugs are encountered in the lower levels of the Sunshine, Coeur and galena mines. These produce specimens of sphalerite, siderite, stibnite and quartz.

Some of the exceptional discoveries were of large crystals of anglesite in the Hercules, Last Chance, Tyler, Hypotheek and Bunker Hill Mines; cerussite in the Tiger, Poorman, Hercules, Morning, You Like, Mammoth, Bunker Hill and Last Chance Mines; plattnerite in the You Like, Mammoth, Hercules and Bunker Hill Mines; and pyromorphite in the Bunker Hill, Hercules, Mammoth, Sherman, Russell, Blackbear, Little Giant, Caledonia, Northern Light, Lookout Mountain and many other mines.

Minerals from the district include: acanthite, anglesite, ankerite, arsenopyrite, azurite, bindheimite, boulangerite, bournonite, brochantite, calcite, caledonite, cerussite, cervantite, chalcostibite, chrysocolla, copper, covellite, cuprite, ferro-anthophyllite, galena, goethite, gold, gypsum, hemimorphite, hydrocerussite, jamesonite, kermesite, leadhillite, linarite, massicot, plattnerite, proustite, pyrargyrite, pyrite, pyrolusite, pyromorphite, quartz, rutile, siderite, silver, sphalerite, stephanite, stibiconite, stibnite, tetrahedrite, tyrolite, valentinite and wulfenite.

There is very little collecting in the district. Mining activities removed nearly all of the oxide zones, and the few remaining are dangerous and inaccessible. As mentioned above, mining activities in the depths of the Sunshine, Coeur and Galena Mines (down to more than 5,000 feet) produce occasional specimens of sphalerite, siderite, stibnite and quartz.

Other than that, there was sporadic production of pyromorphite from the Bunker Hill Mine from the 1980s into the 1990s. Pyromorphite crystals are up to an inch long, and of various shades of green, yellow-green, orange to reddish orange and light tan. Very fine specimens up to several inches across were produced during that time.

Blackbird Mining District, Cobalt, Idaho

This district is located about 40 miles SW of Salmon. Most of the district is not accessible. At this time (2005), Formation Capital Corp. (a Canadian company) is completing plans to begin mining cobalt ore at Blackbird. Exploration and planning have been ongoing since 1993. If mining resumes, perhaps we will see a renewed production of mineral specimens from this famous district.

Cobalt mineralization was discovered in 1901 and production was primarily during 1918-1921 and 1938-1944. Renewed interest in cobalt mining in the early 1980s saw the Blackbird readied for renewed production, only to see that project fall apart with the crash of the cobalt price. The Blackbird Mine and other mines of the district are presently flooded and inaccessible. Mine dumps on the outlying mines have been rehabilitated.

The district is underlain by Precambrian metasediments of the Yellowjacket formation (interestingly, these are equivalent to the formations of the Belt supergroup of N. Idaho in which the silver-lead-zinc mines of the Coeur d'Alene District lie). These rocks have been intruded by the quartz monzonite to diorite of the Idaho batholith.

Mineralization is generally fine-grained and consists primarily of cobaltite, biotite, black tourmaline and quartz. Some of the cobaltite forms distinct disseminated crystals mostly under 1 mm across, but up to 3-4 mm uncommonly.

Minerals of the deposits include: apatite, cobaltoan-arsenopyrite, chalcocite, chrysocolla, cobaltite, copper, cuprite, erythrite, ludlamite, malachite, quartz, rhodochrosite, safflorite and vivianite. The district is especially known for the excellent specimens of vivianite (world class quality), including crystals to more than 10 cm long, ludlamite (world class quality) with crystals to 2 cm and some cobaltite to 4 mm or better.

Peacock Mine, Leadore District, Leadore, Lemhi County

This mine is actually more of an enigma than a locality. There definitely are some very fine specimens of cyanotrichite, azurite and malachite in private and museum collections from this district, labeled Peacock Mine. Yet, collectors who have searched for this locality have gone home empty -handed. The west end of the district (NW of the town of Leadore) has many shallow mines and prospects developed in limestone, shale and surficial material. Mining and exploration was done primarily on a small scale from the 1930s to the 1950s by local residents, including ranchers during their off-season from ranching and farming. The workings consist primarily of small pits, trenches and adits or shafts less than a hundred feet in length/depth. Production from this area is small. The east end of the district had a fair amount of production of lead and zinc.

The Peacock Mine had my attention for a few years, because of the very fine specimens it reportedly produced. Apparently these were produced during the last mining venture in the 1950s (?) with specimens collected and marketed by Ed McDole (reported, not verified). In recent years, I started investigating the district casually, but never got serious until recently. During the last few years, on occasion I would be asked by others if I'd "been to the Peacock Mine and if I'd found anything." The asker would generally then explain that he had looked for it, and either couldn't figure out which was the Peacock or found it (he thought) but found nothing of interest.

Finally, I had to pin this down, so I made a concerted effort to find the Peacock and settle the problem of where it is and is there anything there now. First, and one reason I wasn't working to hard on finding the Peacock Mine prior to this is that there are no publications that adequately describe the district and the location of the Peacock Mine. In fact, the US Geol. Survey publications and Idaho Geol. Survey locations conflict on whether the mine was at the western or eastern ends of the district. During a visit with Larry Dee, and sorting through all that information, it was finally accepted that the Peacock was on the western end on Mineral Hill, a short distance west of Stroud Gulch. The eastern end of the district was primarily a lead district with little or no copper mineralization. During our first trip together, we ended up at the Iron Dike Mine on Stroud Gulch and found specimens of the cyanotrichite, malachite, azurite and brochantite.

After a few trips of investigating nearly every mine dump in the area, including trips with other collectors, I can only report that the Peacock Mine as a mineral locality is still an enigma. What is apparently the Peacock Mine, presently shows no mineralization at all. Not one scrap of azurite, cyanotrichite or malachite can be seen on the dumps or workings. The main small pit shows no signs of mineralization, although one other collector reported that he did see a tiny bit of azurite in one area in the past, probably buried by the slumping sides now. The small adit, partially caved, was not entered.

The other mines in the area primarily showed minor amounts of specular hematite, iron oxides, and rarely a tiny chip of massive malachite. Mostly, they showed nothing but rock. Mineralization in the district apparently was restricted to surface and near surface rock and debris. Yes, debris. In the Iron Dike Mine on the east side of Stroud Gulch, there were a couple small areas in the walls of the small pit where malachite and cyanotrichite could be found where it formed in the colluvium a few feet below the surface.

The Iron Dike Mine was the only mine in the district that presently shows any significant sign of copper mineralization. The dumps have a few pieces of gossan, varying from soft to hard, including small masses of jasperoid, containing azurite, brochantite, cyanotrichite/carbonate-cyanotrichite and malachite. The "iron dike," a gossan zone exposed in the pit near the adit, rarely has small areas of mineralization. The small adit is in shattered gray limestone and shows no mineralization at all.

At this time, the district looks like the Iron Dike Mine is the only one that had significant copper mineralization, and may have been the producer of the specimens labeled "Peacock Mine." I can't state this as a fact, but that is what the present situation suggests. One would expect that if there was copper mineralization in the Peacock or other mines, that there would be noticeable pieces on the dumps. Some people argue this point, but considering the fact that these were not significant deposits with sharp/distinct veins, but intermitten zones of mineralization, it is most likely that much mineralized rock would have made it to the dumps instead of all of it being recovered as ore.

At this time, the district is not worth a visit by mineral collectors, even for micros, except perhaps to the Iron Dike Mine for micros for the diligent collector, and past production from the Peacock Mine is questionable. The correct locality for "Peacock Mine" specimens may well have been the Iron Dike Mine, just to the east of the Peacock.

Copyright 2008 Information may be used and republished as long as the author and source of the information (Lanny R. Ream - LR Ream Publishing) remains with any information given to others or re-published in any format including paper or electronic means.