In late August, the staff of Pala International visited the newly acquired Esmeralda Mine in the Mesa Grande District of San Diego County. John McLean, Jason Stephenson, and Bill and Will Larson (who all contributed to this report) drove to the U.S. Forestry Service gate about a mile and a half from the mine, only to find they’d been given the wrong key. In 95-degree heat in the middle of the day, they trudged uphill, arriving at the mine an hour later. After recovering from the heat, they started to inspect the pegmatite and surrounding area, seeking shade at every opportunity.
The pictures below tell the story, but for a written description, be sure to see the Sinkankas Notebook from 1956. And check back for more information as progress begins on opening the mine.
In the SUV on the road to the Esmeralda Mine.
At the forestry service gate.
Jason, left, and John require provender for strength to open the gate.
Walking in the valley below the mine, Bill points the way.
“All hope abandon, ye high graders who enter in.”
John walking on the mine property.
Jason mows the lawn.
Will stands in an old main drift (tunnel). This is said to be the main “glory hole,” or series of pockets from the original discovery. To Will’s right is the continuation of the tunnel.
This shows the strike and dip at the hanging wall of the pegmatite. Overburden (lighter material) can be seen on the left; pegmatite (orangey-red material) is on the right.
Jason, Will and John uncovering specimens.
Will reaches into a small tourmaline pocket, or tourmaline vug.
Will holds a schorl crystal that displays a deep purple skin under intense light.
Two fine schorls; the best of our first day out at the Esmeralda Mine. A promising sign at the surface of what lies beneath. Larger crystal on the left is about 6 cm. (Photo: Jason Stephenson)