Thursday, November 13, 2008

Island Mountain Copper Mine

This rock was assayed at 20% copper.

Photo Copyright, by Rob Lavinsky. I don't know the guy, or how he came by the photo's of these crystals, but these photos were taken from They are from the Island Mountain Copper Mine, just over the hill from Garberville. I was interested because we have so few gem quality rocks in our area. The description stated that they were up to 2mm. Whatever that means.

The Island Mountain Copper Mine is between Spy Rock and Alderpoint, on the Eel River. The mine is located in the South-West corner of Trinity County California. The mine produced ore from 1915 until 1930. They mined 4100 tons of copper, 140,000 ounces of silver, and 8,600 ounces of gold. I'll bet that you didn't know that the Eel river had gold did you? The copper deposit is part of a sulfide deposit made up of pyrite, chalcopyrite, and pyrrhotite. There is some gem quality rocks and crystals out there.
All of these minerals are found in what is described in wicapedia as a "shear zone in the Franciscan Assemblage" then they included a very colorful and interesting description of the Franciscan Assemblage, which if you could understand the words you already know about it, if you don't you will just be confused.
In researching "Eel River Jade I found this gem in "Old And Sold dot com":
"not too many years ago a huge jade boulder weighing over one thousand pounds was found in California near the area of the Trinity River. The boulder was one solid mass of every shade of green imaginable-and some of it was thought to be imperial green. And in Mendocino County, California, a large deposit of jade was found.
Jade, in both varieties, jadeite and nephrite, ranges in colors from white to dark green, but the imperial green jade is the most highly desired. A necklace of matched imperial beads has been valued at $100,000.
The finding of just one piece of jade can turn family picnics into wild scrambles in search for more. Watch for both nephrite and jadeite-although jadeite is rarer and therefore has more value. But watch for both of them along the beaches and in stream beds, and also watch for deposits of jade.
Watch for the rare jadeite at the North Fork of the Eel River,"

All of the above is pretty much true, and verifiable, but as you all know, I can remember a lot of stuff that I really never paid much attention to at the time, so the rest of this will be pure “Bullshistory” from my somewhat feeble recollections.

I don’t know exactly where the Island mountain Copper Mine is, but I think that it was on what was known, back in the sixties, as “The Simpson Ranch”. The Simpson Ranch was subdivided into parcels and sold off. The part with the mine on it was sold to a mining company. The mining company built a large dormitory type building for their workers and for stockholder visits. They were selling shares in the mining company and they were trying to encourage investors to buy in.

At some point during the reopening of the mine the mining company spilled a large amount of Copper sulfate ladened water into the Main Eel river. I’m not sure what the impact to the river was, all that I remember is the spill. The California Fish and Game closed the operation down, and restained them from any further operation at the mine site until they could prove that they could do it without damaging the river. The investors fled like fleas from a drowned dog.

The mining property was bought by a group of people that started “Heartwood College”, where they taught alternative medicine, holistic being, acupuncture, and massage. They remodeled Dr. Simpson’s house to become the cookhouse, a lunch room, and they held some classes there also. The dormitory was used for housing. They added greatly to the buildings, and have become quite popular, so they have grown. Heartwood was just recently sold to an heiress of the Campbell soup family, who also bought Hartsook Inn. The Hartsook is going to be a branch campus.

The original Simpson house/cook house was built by Southern Humboldt Building supply back in 1970? For Dr. Simpson from Eureka. Some of you Old-Timers will remember him. He was a very, very successful dentist. His add on TV. Was “Call Dr. Simpson, your friendly credit Dentist”. He would fix your teeth on credit, and finance your payments at a small interest rate. He was the largest dentistry provider in Humboldt County. Say what you like about how he got rich, he provided tooth care to people that otherwise couldn’t afford it. People were grateful, and almost always paid.

Let’s see… we were talking about a mine. There is a new potential mine at Island Mountain, a hard rock mine that would provide suitable hard rock for construction in the bay area. It would require the reopening of the railroad to ship the rock. On the surface, it sounds like it would cause a relatively small impact on the environment. And, it would bring those big machines that I dearly love. But I understand the nay-sayers already have gotten wind of it and will probably have something to say.

But if it all goes well, maybe I’ll get to fix the air conditioner on one of these big dozers. They always screw up the air-conditioner when they take them apart to move them. I usually trade my repair time for the opportunity to push a few rocks around. I doooo love machines!


Kym said...

I never knew all this! I read the post to my family this morning and we all oogled the stones. Thank you for posting this bit of history.

Indie said...

I was wondering what was ever going to become of the Hartsook Inn. I was sad when it closed because when it had that amazing gourmet chef in its restaurant. The food was magnificent.

It's lain dormant for what, a decade? I guess a massage school is as good as anything for using that place.

I think that whole Franciscan assemblage thing is just geology jargon, the name of a place near San Francisco that has certain rock-forming characteristics.

I am no scientist, but geology was a class that I absolutely loved, maybe because it included field trips.:)

I can't wait to show these recent posts of yours to my husband who is very interested in rocks, minerals, gems, mining and geology. In the Redding area where he comes from, there is a scarcity of environmentalists. You wouldn't believe what the mining companies get away with there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Ernie for another informative post.
I have heard rumors of other collectible minerals from that neighborhood, but I don't want to send the hippies wandering so I will only tease.
The Hartwood Inn will offer access to student (read less-expensive) massages without the long drive to Heartwood. I understand that the renovation is a few financial comitments down the road, but I sure look forward to their eventual opening.
As you have been no doubt following the naysayers on Humboldtheralds site, you must be aware that the costs of that repairing that RR approaches a billion dollars in today's dollars. I guess the EPA estimated the cost at 3/4 of a billion a decade or so ago.
Tough times for big infra-structure investment, though I am sure those gravel and copper mine owners would appreciate the favor.

gemboy said...

indie... any chance we, actually your husband and I, could talk about Redding area rocks? California mineral collecting is a minor passion of mine. My cat is asleep and cannot give me The Look for the understatement in that last line. Not sure how to connect with you but I authorized Ernie to pass on my email address if that would work?
Open to suggestions?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Gemboy, I hope you are still checking back. I don't have anyway of getting your email address, unless you post it here openly. Blogspot wipes adresses clean so anoymouses can stay hidden. I understand that some other blog sites require a return address, but Blogger is just the opposite.

gemboy said...

Thanks again Ernie! Not interested in that.
I will check in every few days to see if indie has an idea.
I will take some willow bark for the temporary spike in my rockfever and be fine in the morning. Really.

Anonymous said...

ps. 2mm =2 millimeters...tiny crystals.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Dean Witter have a large ranch in that same area?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yes, Dean Witters 14,000 acre Lone Pine Ranch is just west of the Eel River at Island Mountain.

Indie and Gemboy. This is my email, you will have to retype it:

If you both send me your email I will switch them. Will hold confidential.

gemboy said...

Cleaning up that question... it is the Dean Whittier Lone Pine Ranch I was thinking of... yahooing the IMCM I found this reference to ongoing toxic run-off at the mine in this RR debate article from Marin:
"The alleged adverse environmental impacts of a quarry at Island Mountain are wholly false and misleading. In order for any quarry operator to get both a Use Permit from Trinity County and a SMARA permit from the State, there has to be an operating plan in place that assures the public there will be no pollution. Those processes require a full-blown EIR for a project of this size. Additionally, at Island Mountain, the proposed quarry site will be situated well back from the Eel River, out of sight from the river, and visible only from the railroad or the air. Moreover, the hand-wringing over possible quarry pollution rings disingenuous in the absence of any outcries regarding the toxic chemicals presently leaching into the Eel River from the Island Mountain Copper Mine on Dean Whittier’s Lone Pine Ranch. "

The specifics of the location of the mine are give at the above link, together with some details of other copper claims in that area.

gemboy said...

Crossing posts...thanks Ernie...if that book on Indian Dick is at the Blue Moon, I will buy you a copy and bring it by Monday!
Indie...hope this interests your husband!?
A Hayfork points of interest page talks generically about the IMCM and then adds this teaser.... "Sierra Clubbers can visit the last tree on earth here."?!!!

spyrock said...

hey gemboy, can you please tell me how long quartz mining claims are good for in california. i found one dated feb 1, 1917. thanks, and any green rocks are my favorite. california jade, sepentine, mariposite, little green meteorites from mars. does indian dick know these rocks whereabouts?

gemboy said...

Spyrock, I have been gobbling up your posts, thanks.
Off the top of my noggin' I would say you need to check out the claims records usually kept at the County Courthouse. Claims need to be kept up from year to year to stay valid,
You may have found a claim that you could file on if no one else has jumped the claim and maintained it.
This is by no means a definitive answer for you, so do keep asking others.

Not sure what scale of potential you think you have there, but I will say that there is a minefield (no pun) of regulations involved in filing and working a claim.
My landline speed makes it torturesome, but going to and typing quartz in california should get you to a page that lets you dial into maps of mines in your area. There are a lot of gaps in his data in certain areas.
I was trying to track down a rumor of quartz crystals at the Laytonville quarry and found it on that site. Frequently when I track down rumors of local quartz crystals they turn out to be micro-crystalline like the pictures Ernie posted.
(You can also take a look at the bend in the river where the IMCM is located at )
Hope you have something there.

gemboy fesses up said...

Who was Indian Dick?
I have the taste of post-in-mouth and must confess. My addled memory translated a little book on Wailaki Jack at the Blue Moon into Indian Dick.
Forgive me.
Who was Indian Dick of Indian Dick Road fame?

gemboy said...

Note: a quartz claim is another term for a lode claim...not a quartz crystal claim. The way I answered that might get misconstrued by other readers.

spyrock said...

thanks for the info gemboy. i've got the book and page number on one of them. and it's probably there on the other claim too somewhere when i find it again. i've sort of given up on trying to return to the land my grandparents lived on. it's not the same there anyway. but things change. who would have thought a black man would become president. so maybe when they legalize pot, they will have tasting rooms like the ones in napa. maybe spyrock cabernet will be the main cash crop and pot will be just another perscription drug. i'll still leave open the possibility that i'll return to that land, but that wish is on a back burner. if i'm supposed to go there, it will happen. so the mining claims are just fun things to talk about with my cousins whose ancestors filed the deeds with ours.