19. John Cornish's 2005 Idaho Heulandite Dig
North America's finest Pink Heulandite at the Rats Nest Mine, Custer County, Idaho

By: Scott Kleine (Great Basin Minerals)

Invited by my friend John Cornish, I ventured into the depths of Idaho to pursue North America's finest pink heulandite at the Rats Nest Mine, Custer County. My departure was delayed due to bad weather and I arrived with only a single day left in which John had the trackhoe at his claim. The evening I got into John's camp, the weather was cold, rainy and windy. By the time I left, 5 days later, it felt like we were in a microwave oven! John worked really hard and I truly feel that his season was a great success. Here now are pictures of his 2005 dig.

At the crack of dawn we began what would be the last day of mining with the excavator. John's result of a week of hard digging lay along side the trench

A vigorous morning of mining and recovering fine pink heulandite specimens. John and I worked at a furious pace and it was difficult for me to find time to take pictures

Many pockets were lined with just hair-like white mordenite. A few had some light pink heulandite

A typical mordenite pocket, with some heulandite. These vugs average about 10 to 15cm across, but can reach over 1 meter!

Here John is in a giant 2-meter+(7 foot) pocket zone of mordenite(but no heulandite...)

A close up of the huge pocket. This is the largest of such John has ever seen at the mine! I sure hope he finds a heulandite pocket this big, someday!

A nice find; Rich in-situ zone with 10 to 15cm choice pink heulandite pockets. Pocket zones like these come and go, with up to several days between finds, even with an excavator. I was fortunate to be there on a very good day!

A classic 20cm heulandite pocket in the wall. The pile of white mordenite hairs on the bottom of the vug, which resembles a nest, show why the claim has its name- Rat's Nest Mine
Click on picture for super-sized image

In the middle of my first day at the mine, I discovered a group of unusually fine pink heulandite pockets to 15cm. Also observed were a series of black holes going into the wall...

With part of the "false wall" carefully removed, a spectacular 30x30x45cm pocket is uncovered!! John says that it rates among the finest gem heulandite pockets he has ever seen from his mine!

A 30cm-wide (one foot) closeup of this amazing pocket! Pristine white sprays of mordenite to 6cm and gem amber calcites to 4cm were also present. It was very exciting to discover, document and collect!

WOW!!! A 25cm-wide closeup of gem pink heulandites to 4cm, white sprays of mordenite and amber calcites!
Click on picture for super-sized image

The front base "false wall" 20cm+ cabinet specimen of fine pink heulandite from the big pocket

A box of super fine mordenite & heulandite specimens, some of which are from the big pocket

A great combo cabinet piece of heulandite with mordenite from the big pocket, measuring 20cm!

Another box of fine combos, many of which are from the big pocket. Specimens range from 8 to 20cm+

A superb 17cm cabinet piece of hair-like mordenite with light pink heulandite. John says that this is one of the first years he has been able to preserve these ultra fragile specimens

A fine group of heulandite and mordenite specimens. The front-left cabinet specimen measures over 20cm and in one of the finest mordenites John has so far found, making it a world-class piece!

John found a showy 15cm heulandite cabinet piece with a superb 6cm gemmy pink spray!

A group of fine heulandite specimens all from one pocket found the day before I arrived

A great large cabinet specimen with a 7cm heulandite rosette at the center!

Other specimens all from a single, great pocket!

John proudly packs a rare 5cm pink stilbite spray on cabinet-sized mordenite from his mine

A season of hard work; Here John shows off a large quartz stalactite and a nice calcite blade, along with a sea of pink heulandite!

With commercial mining finished for the year and the pit well buried, I know what John's going to be doing for a long while?!

Yes, that's right; TRIMMING!!

And trimming...

And more trimming! Alas, it was time for me to head home. I had a GREAT time and I thank John for inviting me to see it all, first hand!

EXTRA! See John Cornish's room at the 2007 Tucson Mineral Show at the Inn Suites

< article 18     article 20 >

All text, images, and design 2006 Scott Kleine All rights reserved.
Mirrored by The-Vug.com by permission

Top of Page   Home   Most Updated   Weekly Updates   FAQ's   About Us   Advertising   MySpace   Graphics

Webdesign by Brandy Naugle, Copyright 2002-2006; The Vug; a division of Zzyzx Minerals