Pencil Tourmaline from San Diego mines. Himalaya Mine and others. Collected in first part of the 20th century. This is on permanent display at our store.
Cliff Mine 1845
Flat stone etching of Cliff Mine in 1845.
HISTORIC MINERAL PANNING AT MINER'S GEMS
Mineral panning is a historic and informative "hands on" activity (especially for school groups). When gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutters Mill by John Marshall, people flocked from all over the world to the unknown frontier of Alta California which was at that time a largely unpopulated territory of Mexico. With picks and pans they scoured the hills of northern California in search of gold and changed the history of the "golden state" forever.
Now it's your opportunity to become a miner 49er. The "mineral pans" are $4 per pan and are filled with"tailings" from the Stewart Tourmaline Mine in Rainbow, California and we "salt" them well! Washing out your pan will reveal pyrite (fools gold), quartz crystals, lepidolite, agate, jasper, and... whatever else we decide to throw in! This is an experience you wont want to miss and is great for kids and adults. Groups larger than 6 must reserve at least two weeks in advance, earliest reservations for groups take priority. Except for the group that is booked, this activity is closed on the days and/or times of group bookings. Certain times of the year are subject to blackout. Call for operating hours and RSVP.
SOME INTERESTING EARLY CALIFORNIA HISTORY
Long before the documented discovery of Alta California, the state retained a mystery that was well known by the native residents of this land. It is speculated that before the arrival of Spanish explorers, the population of California Indians numbered about 250,000. This native society was well established and consisted of many tribes and language groups. Though these native people had a well-established life, it was often viewed as a “heathen” lifestyle by European visitors. This is evident in the destruction and devastation that occurred to native populations following European arrival. One fact that separated the natives from their new neighbors was that the native people were not interested in the rich mineral deposits found on their lands. This vast wealth was not of significance until European exploration. When European explorers began arriving in Alta California, there was evidence other travelers from around the world had been there before them. However, Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the first to leave a legacy forever tying him to the great state of California. He is credited with discovering the Pacific Ocean in 1513 and it was his intrepid spirit that opened various routes which lead to the exploration and “development of the lands bordering the great western sea”. Balboa began a legacy of exploration that lasted over 320 years, culminating in the discovery of the vast mineral deposits of the region and lead to the great California Gold Rush of 1849. "Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean two hundred and seventy-six years before the French Revolution began. Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Harbor four hundred years before Martin Luther died. Sir Francis Drake careened the Golden Hind under the lee of Point Reyes before Shakespeare had learned his alphabet. Junipero Serra founded the mission of Saint Francis of Assisi in the same year that the Liberty Bell rang out the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall" (Davis). Hernando Cortez, Ferdinand Magellan, Juan Cabrillo, Sir Francis Drake, Sebastin Vizciano, Gaspar de Portola, Juan Bautista de Anza, Jedidiah Smith, and John C. Fremont were architects of California’s destiny. They helped pave the “Road to Riches”, laying the way for the tide of gold seeking immigrants. Though the aforementioned explorers helped define California’s boundaries, this golden land was dreamed about and written about before nearly all these explorers ever stepped foot on its shores. “What became the real geographical domain of California started out as a fictional place concocted by a Spanish writer named Garci Ordonez de Montalvo” in his early 16th century bestseller Las Sergas de Esplandian. In this fabulous tale, there existed a “terrestrial paradise” where “Precious gems were in great abundance and the only metal was gold, Calafia was queen, and after her the island was named” (Davis). Montalvo was not credited with naming California until 1862, when Edward Everett Hale happened upon the lost manuscript and has been credited with inspiring European explorers to go in search of this golden land. California might best be recognized in history for the discovery of gold in 1848, but its history is much broader. Though this discovery changed the course of the nation, the exploration of California changed the course of the world. It is the story of these distinguished explorations that culminated in the great California Gold Rush and that is our story to tell.