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Virgin Valley Field Trip




AUGUST 8, 9, & 10, 2014


Again for ease in club members enjoying the different mining adventures in

Virgin Valley, Saturday will be left open for members to go to the Fee dig(s)

they desire. Friday will be a travel day that will allow members to arrive at

Virgin Valley on their own schedule. A brief description of these fee digs is

given below.

On Sunday, you can either attend a fee dig or maybe spend the day with

John Church (club member and owner of Swordfish Mining). I have yet to

contact John, but in the past John has taken us to one or two of his claims to

play in (or on). We generally meet John Sunday morning at 8:00am at the

Virgin Valley Campground. There generally is no cost to the club members

unless someone finds some fantastic material on his claims. By going with

John to his claims on Sunday, members will be able to leave whenever they

want to head for home.


VIRGIN VALLEY OPAL is located in Northwest Nevada just south of the

Oregon border, 95 miles east of Lakeview via Highway 140, and 135 miles

from Winnemucca. Travel time from Klamath Falls is around 3 1⁄2 to 4 1⁄2

hours depending on the type of vehicle and if you are pulling a trailer.

There are four mines that are open for fee digs. Web site links for the four

mines and Swordfish Mining can be found under the following web sites:

thegemdealer.com & goldnuggetwebs.com/VVOPALS/VVMAPS.LTM.

The second site has good maps. Some prices have changed, for instance

Rainbow Ridge is now $100/person/per day for tailings and $600/day for

one or two persons for fresh dirt. So check the web sites for other possible


BONANZA OPAL MINE – Fresh tailing Fee digging is $60/person /day,

12 and under free with paid adult. $10 discount for rock club members with

proof. Ph. 864 597-1421; Web. bonanzaopals.com.

THE OPAL QUEEN – $150/person/day bank digging, $75/day tailing

digging. Ph. 775 941-0130; Web. opalqueen.com

RAINBOW RIDGE OPAL MINE New material is $600/day for one or two

adults, $100/person/day for tailings. Children 10 to 15, half price. Ph. 775

941-0270; Web. nevadaopal.com.

ROYAL PEACOCK OPAL MINE – Bank digging $180/person/day, $75/

person/day for tailings. 17 space RV park plus tent camping. Laundry room

& toilet/shower room. Bag ice, cold pop, pure well water, grass picnic area.

Ph. 775 941-0374.

SWORDFISH MINING – Web. usopal@lycos.com

In addition there is a mini-dig mine called Opal Negra Mines owned by

Scott & Pat Ryals, it is located on the road to the Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine.

Negra stands for black, so we are talking black opal. They like folks to

stop by and chat, and view their fine display of opal from their mines. This

is the place to visit if you want to see what the Virgin Valley Opal looks

like. Their e-mail is thegemdealer.com. They have graciously supplied the

following terms for different types of opal:

Precious-Opal with any play of color, either reflective or contra-luz.

Common-Genuine opal with no play of color.

Contra-luz-Opal with a color play only when sunlight shines through it.

Cachalon-Opal that has color play when dry, but becomes transparent when


Cones-Opal formed from fossilized cones.

Cellfire-Conk opal with precious opal in individual opalized cells.

Dendridic-Opal that has inclusions of algae or roots.

Hydrophane-Opal that displays color when wet or clear, but loses most of

color play when dry and opaque.

Jelly-Opal with a play of color yet transparent.

Moss-Opal that has moss-like inclusions.

Potch-Common opal, may have color but without any color play.

Wood-Opal combined with petrified wood.

In the past, most of the club members have gone to the Rainbow Ridge

mine for the Saturday fee dig. The tailings dig here allows folks to dig close

together or go off by yourself. This is a chance to socialize while digging

and to see what is being “discovered” by other members.

I encourage every one to check the web sites so you can get an idea of what

the country is like and what you can expect.

ITEMS TO BRING: Most important is water. In most places there is little

or no shade and it is easy to dehydrate. For working the ground suggested

items are: small pick, small garden rake, small shovel or trowel, spray bottle

with water, buckets for collecting specimens plus an extra one to sit on, and

sun block, hat, and gloves. A large umbrella works well if the wind isn’t


The campground is about 3 miles from Hwy 140. There is a toilet, a

naturally heated artesian hot water shower and outdoor swimming pool

(complete with guppies), and a few small trees.

Denio Junction, about 30 miles to the east, has reopened and offers food,

fuel (sometimes not available), and rooms. Ph. 775 941-0171.

HOW TO KNOW WHERE TO TURN OFF HWY. 140. Traveling from

Lakeview on Hwy 140, it is about 68 miles from Hwy 395 to the Oregon/

Nevada border. The road going into Virgin Valley is approximately 20

miles after entering Nevada. There is a rest area on Hwy 140 just west of

the Virgin Valley access road. There is also a sign on the highway inviting

people to come into the opal mines and collect “black fire opal”.

Marv Stump

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