Oregon Collecting Sites

If you're looking for Oregon sites you'll strike paydirt at Tim Fisher's Oregon Rockhounds Online!

Vicinity near Ashwood, Oregon

Agate, Blue and Black "Thundereggs", Jasper, Opal, Petrified Wood

Source: Rocks-and-Fossils Mailing List 5/30/95
Tim Fisher

Well folks, the Ashwood trip was a resounding success, thanks Hendersons and Ed Bustya and daughter for showing up! About 60 rockhounds in tents, trailers, and even motorhomes showed up. We camped out at Darrel Friend's meadow Thursday night, after kicking the mulies out :) Trout Creek was a few yards away, and yes Virginia, there are trout in it! Made a nice cooling-off spot after a hard days' digging.

Now the rocks: first we went to Darrell's thunderegg bed Friday. He came up with his backhoe and dug a new trench for us. We got some huge eggs from it. What we could see was blue and black (that's right, black!) agate with yellow and orange streaks and blobs. I haven't cut one yet so I don't know what I have got, although they are large and I got 60 lbs. in just a couple of hours. Darrell also had a few nice dark green moss agate boulders from a ledge he had found and dug out with his backhoe. Some went and searched the ledge but didn't find any more agate in it. Unfortunately I couldn't afford a 300 lb. moss agate boulder!

Saturday we went to MacDonald's ranch for wood, jasp-agate, and t-eggs. They had run the cat on the wood deposit the night before and exposed at least 3 tons of opalized and jasperized wood. I decided to dig just for the heck of it and worked out a 70 lb. piece which was unfortunately mostly opal, but showed the wood very well. I chipped it down to jasper which has very nice patterns runing through the grain. Someone completely exposed a 6 ft. log which was about 4 ft. in diameter and left it there. No wonder! Then we took off for the jasp-agate deposit, which was pretty well picked over as far as large pieces. I was after brown jasper with clear agate and found a few smaller pieces. I also found some light purple agate and some pinkish-white jasper reminiscent of the now-gone Oregon Sunset jasper from Richardsons (just over the hill!). There is a lot of colorful jasper here, with many shades of brown and red and lots of white. I suspect it's the same deposit as the Sunset ledge, I need a topo map to confirm, but it looks very similar. Then we went to their t-egg bed down a rough road to the head of Wilson Creek, which flows on through Richardson's ranch. The eggs were small, as is the bed, and I haven't cut any yet. There are a lot of duds in this bed but the ones with thin lenses have lots of dark blue and clear banded agate, much like Richardson's blue bed. There's a rumor of a tilt egg bed farther on down the reek, but it's on the old Priday Ranch, which is leased by Nartz from Richardsons. I think there is more than one bed between Nartz's and Richarson's on Wilson Creek, as there were egg cores, one tilted, in the creek bed a half-mile from the upper bed.

That killed Saturday so Sunday we started off at Nartz's Chief Paulina agate ledge. They had done a lot of work clearing the rubble away from the legde. We wedged out a few big chunks from the bottom of the ledge which have beautiful colors of agate and jasper. I got a few pieces of a purple agate and many small pieces of pink agate. It's all semi-translucent, kind of sugary. There is much variety in this agate, with red and white streaks and lines and some polka-dots, which incidentally is about a mile away.

When we got to the polka-dot trailer, Dale Hewitt was already hard at work with the cat. He had dug out a one ton boulder which he was hammering apart with the bucket. Someone got a 70 lb. chunk of white polka-dot jasp-agate with brown dots. While I and some Walker Valley veterans went to work on the rest of the seam he exposed, Dale ripped out a truly magnificent boulder of blue polka-dot. It had sugary blue agate with very dense multi-colored dots. That is the prime agate from this deposit. Some lucky hounds came out with 50 to 100 lb. chunks of that baby. I got some smaller pieces (I only have a 16" saw!) and it's absolutely stunning. It has dark to light brown, yellow, and reddish dots, white and red-red streaks, and lots of colorful jasp-agate on the edges of the clear blue. The other stuff we got out on muscle power totalled about 300 lbs, and it was more of the white jasp-agate with dots and red, blue, and brown blobs and streaks. Dale promised that he would try to be open Sundays for the rest of the summer, so go on out. It's only about 10 miles from Richardson's so if it's not open, no big deal. Dale showed us a fabulous necklace made from a chunk of fire opal from one of his eggs.

Of course no trip would be complete without paying our respects to Johnny Richardson, so we hit the red bed on the way out and got 60 lbs. of t-eggs in a couple hours there. I think I came out with 380+ lbs. of rock. All I know is it bent my hitch carrier down about 6"! If you're intrigued by the collecting at Ashwood, we're headed that way again Labor Day weekend. I'm definitely going to pick up more polka-dot and Friend eggs. We hope to have Marsten's and Hay Creek ranches open for Labor Day as well. All the ranchers were very happy and welcomed up back them. MacDonalds promised to do some work on their black moss agate bed, which had no move vein showing. John Friend may get in on the act with his agate vein, which is similar to Chief Paulina.

Let's get trading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. there's float out the yin-yang in Trout Creek, all kinds of wood, agate, and jasper, and I *think* Dengler Canyon downstream from Friend's is on BLM land!

Several Locations near Ashwood and Prineville, Oregon

Various Colors of Moss Agate, Thundereggs, Jasper,

Source:Rockhounds Mailing List 6/9/95
Dave Henderson
Spokane, WA

By now all of you should have read Tim Fishers Ashwood account from our trip to central Oregon over labor day. Thanks Tim for inviting us ! We found some great stuff (55 pounds of thunder eggs)on the first day at the Friend Ranch Thunder egg digs. Tim noted that some of the eggs he split showed a deep blue center. I too had such eggs until I began slabbing them. The dark blue really turns out to be some property of the clear quartz when totally devoid of light from behind as when buried in the center of a thunder egg. The first couple of eggs I cut had red and brown agate like inclusions in a clear quartz matrix. But this only became totally apparent when I slabbed the egg rather than just cutting it in half.

Being somewhat of a loaner and adventurer by nature my wife and I decided to head out exploring on our own and the second day of the Memorial Day/ Central Oregon Agate Dig IN. Armed with our maps and guide books we struck out for the Crook County Chamber of Commerce agate claim up in the national forest south east of Prineville. This claim and several others in the area are maintained for the express use of amateur rockhounds (no commercial collecting allowed) on a no fee basis. To reach the claim from Prineville, OR take Route 26 to the east edge of town turn right at the Paulino ---> sign and head south east on the Paulino-Prineville Road to mile marker 33. Turn right and follow the forest service road up into the hills for 4.2 miles. At forest service road 1680 turn right go 1.5 miles to forest service road 1690 turn right again > In about 1/2 mile this road dead ends into a circular parking area. The agate digs are below the parking area and go in all directions from there. Pick the uphill edge of an old dig and start digging or start your own hole. Most of the agate we found in this area was dark green moss agate with red moss centers. This appears to be mostly seam agate which has weathered out from somewhere up the hill and is now covered with dirt from the hill above. We found it very useful to have a bucket of water handy. Any rock which the hammer hit that gave that hard agate ring was put into the bucket and then every 30 minutes or so we would stop and higrade the bucket contents which had since soaked their dirt coatings off. Several chunks of beautiful red and green moss in the 2 to 5 lb. class were found with good integrity. Also a couple of yellow moss pieces and one piece of blue banded seam agate as well. There are lots of small pieces and we ended up with nearly 20 lbs. of tumbling rough as well. In fact I had almost as much success walking around the older digs which had been washed down by rain the week before. The other pleasant surprise was even though this was a holiday weekend on a public claim there were less than 10 rock hounds on the several acre claim the whole time we were there from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Having satisfied our appetite for moss agate we decided to head further east to another chamber of commerce claim which boasted wood limb casts. To reach this claim continue southeast along the road to Paulino to mile marker 51 again turn right and head up into the hills to the south for about 4.5 miles. I must warn you this is a very rough road. I would not recommend this road to anyone without 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle. We were only able to make a top speed of 10 mph, and along much of the terrain we were at 5 mph. After a very bumpy ride in we began exploring the hill sides and did some digging but found only small and highly fractured pieces of the material which runs from white to brown and occasionally green and pink. Because we were getting tired and it was now 70 miles back to our hotel we abandoned our exploration of the area after 45 minute and headed back for the day for a good hot soaking in a tub.

On day three (Sunday) we headed to yet another Crook County Chamber of Commerce claim known as White Fir Springs. To reach this claim go east from Prineville on route 26 to mile marker 41. Then 3/10 of mile more turn left on Forest Service road 3350. Follows this up the hill for 4.3 miles to the Thunder egg and agate digging area. By the way about 7/10 of mile in FR3350 forks, the right hand fork becomes FR3350-200, Do Not Take the -200 Fork ! Again like the day before there was almost no one here. We dug for a couple of hours and found several pieces of the rhyolite matrix with marble size inclusions of white and red brown jasper. but nothing real exciting. A few of the pieces when slabbed at home produced pretty 2 and 3 inch slabs of white, brown, salmon and pink colored jasper with an occasional black dendrite. This is a well known site and I suspect that we were either digging in the wrong spot or that the claim has been mined out. The silver lining on this dig however came when my wife who became bored with the operation at this point began to wander the surrounding forest where she found almost 3 dozen morel mushrooms! These were carefully packed in the ice cooler and have since made a couple of gourmet mushroom dishes!!.

Heading out from this dig and back towards Prineville on route 26, my wife extolled me to stop and let her take some pictures of a small stream which runs along route 26 just before the turn off to the site detailed above. The sight my wife was photographing was adjacent to a road cut, and though not expecting much I set to exploring the detritus at the bottom of the cut when what to my wondering eyes should appear but translucent to smoky colored agates weathering out of several seams in the road cut!. At this and three other road cuts between mile posts 38 and 40 on route 26 we subsequently found nearly 50 lbs. of agate a couple of pieces the in 5 lb. class! When I got them home and began cutting some of the material I found that most had reasonable cutting quality with few fractures. The lesson learned here was take nothing for granted! I had ignored the cuts on the drive into the area earlier, thinking to myself that this being prime rock hound country, that surely the road cuts had been picked clean years before I got there by the thousands of rock hounds which had passed the location before me. Apparently some material had weathered out over the winter or many an experienced rock hound had made the same wrong assumption that I had earlier.

Alas that ended the trip and none of the road cuts along the nearly 350 miles of road back to home in Spokane produced anything else of note! All in all we collected over 250 lbs. of some of the best agates, jaspers and petrified wood I have found in years. Those of you who missed Tim Fisher's account of the commercialized digs in the Ashwood area should go back and read those as well. Save em for that vacation you may take a couple of years from now. Two books which I found very useful for this particular trip were Oregon Gem Trails by Jim Mitchell and Earth Treasures, Volume 4 Alas the later is now out of print but may be found from time to time through used book dealers. I bought my copy through Perry Lithon Books who advertises in the rock rags quite often.

RE: Several Locations near Ashwood and Prineville, Oregon

Patricia Banta Stuart

I have just a couple things to correct for you for your future trips.

1. the town you headed for from Prineville south and east is Paulina,,,, named after Chief Paulina.

2. The site you ended up on is the BurBan claim, not the white fir claim. I own the BurBan claim and can tell you where to find the Morrisonite nodules that really are spectacular--cut properly you have a hard time telling them from Bruno Jasper. The white fir claims are up the road further and you park at the fence and hike over the edge of the hill about 1/2 mile as they are now on "wilderness" land and the BLM has put up a fence and so it is a hike in only area.

3. On the way to Paulina you pass Eagle Rock---another BurBan claim that has some beautiful plume agates on it. It does require a 4 wheel drive to get to the top or a good set of hiking lungs.

4. When you are out at the Maury Mountain claim there is a split in the road,,, the left is well maintained and traveled. The RIGHT looks like heck but is driveable and leads down about 1/2 mile and you will see some digging areas off to the left just before fording the little stream. In that area are some of the best moss specimens---transparent agate with nice large "moss" inclusions about twice the size of the upper digs.

Hope you go back and try again!

Richardson's Rock Ranch near Madras, Oregon

Agatized Thundereggs

Source:Rockhounds Mailing List 6/26/95
Art Berggreen

If you go up US 26 through Madras, you might want to stop at Richardson's Rock Ranch just north of Madras. They have quite a rock shop, and if you have the time, you can dig agatized thundereggs ($.45/lb ?).

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bkeller@rockhounds.com 3/17/97