The Misty Blue Turquoise Claim: A Virgin Mine Discovered in the Rugged Hills of Nevada

May 13, 2021 5 Comments

The Misty Blue Turquoise Claim: A Virgin Mine Discovered in the Rugged Hills of Nevada

The Misty Blue Turquoise Claim: A Virgin Mine Discovered in the Rugged Hills of Nevada

It was my first time out prospecting for turquoise. Jesse Robbins and I had been hiking all day out in the steep, rocky hills of Nevada looking for any sign of that precious stone.  As we crested a ridge, we saw what looked to be a white figure staring directly at us on the next ridge. We froze...

                     

I’ll finish that story later but let's take a step back to what got me out prospecting for turquoise in the first place! Jesse Robbins is a good friend of mine who I grew up with in Prescott, Arizona.  He had purchased the Cheyenne turquoise mine outside of Tonopah, Nevada from the Otteson family and was always looking for people to come up and help mine.  I am always looking for the next adventure so I jumped at the opportunity to camp out in a canvas teepee, cook over an open flame, and spending the daytime on the end of a pick digging for that blue gold.  

Now let me tell you, when Jesse told me that it was in a fairly remote location, I had no idea that we wouldn’t see a single soul the whole time we were out there.  Here in AZ you usually get the random guy on a quad or a group of RAZR bros humming by, but out here it was silent. You felt as if you were back in time, much like the miners and prospectors before us in the late 1800’s. There is real beauty in that and it’s what keeps me going back to that area time and time again.

After making several trips out to the Cheyenne mine, Jesse and I decided to go prospecting in another area that we had heard “had turquoise in them hills!”  This brings us back to the white figure on the ridgeline…

Jesse and I stood there, frozen like the sage brush at our feet, both trying to figure out what on earth we were looking at. Being avid hunters, we have a good eye for animals out in the wild, but this was very different.  We both stared for what seemed like 10 minutes, not moving an inch, in fear that it would spot us and levitate over to our location. (being near Area 51 we both thought it was an alien of sorts haha) The next thing you know we saw a twitch, almost like a long white tail moving back and forth.  Welp, it was a wild horse! We both let out a sigh of relief that we weren’t about to be abducted.  We watched the pure white mustang for several minutes as it slowly started working it’s way down the ridgeline, eating the sparse clumps of bone dry grass.  

I kid you not, not but 2 minutes after we started hiking down our own ridgeline after seeing that solo white horse, we spotted our first piece of turquoise. It was a small piece of “paint” on a rock.  Paint is when there is an extremely thin speck or stroke of turquoise on a host rock.  They call it paint, I’m assuming, because it looks like someone took a brush stroke and painted a thin layer of turquoise onto the rock. (see pics below)  Excitedly we started scouring the area for more turquoise.  Eventually we found another speck of paint, followed by a thin chip of turquoise lying in the dirt and then we started finding light blue nuggets! 

                

Jesse and I couldn’t believe that we had found an area with this much turquoise that hadn’t been claimed.  We found an area where we could tell most of the turquoise was eroding out of the hillside and stuck our claim post there! See pic below! (Yes, we place our paperwork inside of an Altoids can, duct taped to the post haha)

Many of you are probably wondering, “How does one stake a claim?” “Are you on public or private land?”  “Does one have to wear denim overalls to be considered a prospector?”  We will be releasing another blog post on the process of staking a claim so keep your eyes peeled for that!

After filing all of the necessary paperwork with the county and BLM (Bureau of Land Management), we returned to the site with our picks, shovels, cobbing hammers and 5 gallon buckets from Lowes.  When you stake a virgin claim, you have to try to figure out the area on the surface that the turquoise formation is closest to.  The best way to do this, according to the Otteson family, is to follow the little bits and pieces of turquoise uphill, almost like a bread crumb trail, until you stop finding turquoise or atleast notice a drastic drop in the concentration of turquoise you find.  You figure that the turquoise is eroding out of the mountain and rolling downhill, due to gravity.  Therefore, since turquoise doesn’t roll uphill, the turquoise formation should be closest to the surface just above the area where you found the last significant piece of turquoise.  

Jesse and I picked our spot and began digging just downhill from a large piece of sage brush.  After about 20 minutes of digging we hit our first piece of turquoise! It was a smaller seam nugget that had a white coating of calcium carbonate all over it’s surface. Picture a rock the size of a credit card cut in half, but the thickness of a Hershey’s chocolate bar, covered in a rough white coating.  The rock stood out because the rest of the soild was a redish/brown color.  The only way we knew that it was a turquoise nugget was because, in the process of picking away at the earth, we chipped the corner of the nugget. (See middle picture above) What we saw was a brilliant blue! The color popped against the white and brown of the surrounding soil! Jesse and I could not believe what we were seeing! We yelled, jumped up and down, I think we even gave each other a hug! (What happens at the mine doesn't always stay at the mine...) We had hiked out into the middle of the Nevada desert and had actually found real turquoise! Not only was it real turquoise but the color was unbelievable.

Let’s talk about the color of turquoise for a minute. Turquoise is a hydrated phosphate containing copper and aluminum. As a turquoise stone is brought to the surface, it begins to lose some of that water through dehydration.This can drastically change the color of the turquoise. You might start off with a dark blue and end up with a pale blue after a few hours in the sun.

Knowing this, Jesse and I tried not to get our hopes up because a piece of turquoise changing in color by just one shade of blue can have a major impact on the price of that turquoise.  As we continued to dig, we kept finding more and more of these nuggets! We were literally pulling them like teeth from the earth. We dug for several hours that day and pulled out several pounds of these nuggets. We stuck those nuggets into ziplock bags, filled the 5 gallon buckets with the pay dirt (all of the excess dirt you pull out when you know you are on turquoise) because we figured we had missed some nuggets that were still hidden, and then hiked off the ridge back to the truck.  This was our first day on the Misty Blue claim and one that we will never forget!  

            

Since that day we have made several trips back to that pit and it has produced us with many pounds of extremely hard turquoise that has an amazing blue ranging from the deepest dark blue to a much lighter blue with swirls of white host material to some nuggets that contain a green with brown matrix running throughout.  It is amazing that such a small pit could provide such a wide range of colors. We hope that you enjoy the jewelry on our website that contains this Misty Blue turquoise.  It really is special to us and we love getting the chance to get up to Nevada whenever we can and hand dig this amazing turquoise stone out of the ground!  Below are several photos of jewelry containing this beautiful Misty Blue turquoise! Thank you for reading!

 

  





5 Responses

Judy L
Judy L

June 17, 2021

Love the story. Very interesting and exciting. The pictures were also great. Now I know where Misty Blue comes from, guess I need to add it to my wall map. Thanks for sharing

Aileen
Aileen

June 17, 2021

Beautiful turquoise! Congratulations!

Madison
Madison

June 17, 2021

Love it, thank you for sharing. Can I come along for a hike with you guys?

Jodee Hall
Jodee Hall

May 14, 2021

That is some beautiful blue turquoise. Great find congrats.
I collect turquoise what would it cost to get a couple nuggets to add to my collection?

D Nicole
D Nicole

May 14, 2021

How flipping rad!! If there was such a thing as spirit gem (if that’s what it’s called?!) turquoise would be mine!!

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