The show is not over! Check out the last page of my Tucson show report that has more great Tucson Show crystal photos
and also a report on my digging for petrified wood in Holbrook, Payson Diamonds in Payson, a horrifically bad road leading
to the Planet mine to collect chrysocolla, and more. There is even pictures of Pork!
Just CLICK HERE to check out the last page of the 2019 show report, or if you landed on this page and haven't been along
for the ride from the start then you may wish to start on page one using the navigation bar below.
You are on page 6 - the Finch Mine.
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|The upper left photo was taken in the field and shows a freshly liberated cluster of
reddish-orange wulfenite crystals that have a thin cryptocrystalline chalcedony coating and
have a black druse coated matrix. Since this photo was taken in the field the specimen is dirty
and hasn't been washed or rinsed off.
The upper right photo shows the dirt road below the Finch Mine. Jeff Lennox is seen prying
specimens of chrysocolla from the veins at the base of the hill on the lower road just past the
mine entrance. Oddly enough, while there was marked deposits of vividly colored blue and green
chrysocolla near the lower road, none was seen up at the mine. I'm not too schooled on this
type of deposit since I grew up on the opposite side of the country but with my limited experience
it seems that the chrysocolla occurs mostly on the periphery of the deposits. I could, of course,
be totally wrong about that.
I have never dug for nor collected wulfenite crystals so I was excited about the trip to the Finch
mine after seeing pictures of what could be found there. The dirt road leading from Hayden to
the mine started off really steep but was graded fairly well aside from a few washes. The mine
road itself was a different story as it immediately started out as a series of very sharp steep
switch-backs. I had brought my new Tacoma TRD PRO loaded with tools, and with its long
wheel-base I didn't relish the thought of negotiating the impossibly sharp switch-backs. Luckily,
Jeff won the rental car lottery Jackpot and ended up with a 4x4 Jeep Wrangler. The turns were
so sharp that even in that we had to back up a few times. The road was NARROW as well, and
two places had washed out with just enough room to get by them. The mine is located way up
the ridge and is probably over 200 feet higher than the road below. We had both agreed ahead
of time that if it started to rain we would pack up and leave immediately, as the two narrow places
would be exceedingly dangerous if the road became slick or muddy even a little bit.
|Each year when I go to the Tucson show I always go out and do some digging. This year I went to the Finch
Mine in Hayden, Arizona and a few other places. Although I am going out of order a little bit, I will start with
the Finch Mine.
The Finch Mine has Wulfenite crystals that vary in color. These range from the typical "Butterscotch" color
to Tan, pure yellow, red and orange. The clarity of the crystals varies from a gemmy transparent to
completely opaque. The wulfenite crystals sometimes are completely to partially covered with a sparkling
cryptocrystalline chalcedony druze. Sometimes vividly colored wulfenite crystals grow on a sharply
contrasting black druse and in bright lighting these are phenomenal. The wulfenite crystals - the ones that
are not covered and reinforced with a chalcedony coating - are very delicate, fragile and brittle. It is very
hard to get the uncoated wulfenite crystal specimens out without damage and chipping/breakage. The thicker
the coating the more resistant the wulfenite is to damage but the problem with that is that the wulfenite is
harder to distinguish as the coating thickness increases.
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|2019 Tucson Gem Show Report
Updated March 02, 2019
5:10 PM Eastern
You are on Page six - The Finch Mine.
|After figuring out where the mine was located we spent a
couple of hours looking for wulfenite. I wasted a lot of
energy breaking rocks with no joy. Then I found a place
that had fantastic wulfenite crystals! The terrain here is
steep and cactus of every kind seemed to be spaced
about every four inches apart! Here (at left) is the digging
area and as you can see, sharp angry cactus was
everywhere. In the distance just up the hill was a saguaro
that must have been 25 foot tall. Swinging a sledge
hammer with cactus poking me from all directions will not
be something that I soon forget! The elevation at the mine
is about 2,400 feet, so not too bad, but not the 500 feet
oxygen level that I am used to.
|At right is very gemmy transparent yellow wulfenite
crystals without any chalcedony coating on them.
This specimen also has clear colorless to white
acicular micro-crystals of some kind that can only
barely be seen with the naked eye but that look
astounding with a 10x loupe.
Since the wulfenite crystals looked fragile I was
afraid to even rinse it off with water. This was
probably a wise move on my part, because later
when I looked at it with a loupe I noticed the
micro-minerals. It's doubtfull that they would have
survived being rinsed. Despite the specimen never
having been cleaned or even rinsed, I think it looks
really nice as it is.
|As the day progessed Jeff and I took turns swinging a 16 pound
sledge hammer. At times the rock would break fortuitously,
yielding small vugs lined with wulfenite crystals. All in all, once
we figured out where the crystals were, we were able to get
many nice specimens in short order! Swinging a sledge hammer
is not for everyone though. I don't want to give the impression
that these were "easy" to find.
|Expand above 2x to see the
micro-crystals. I think the acicular clear
crystals are selenite?
|At left is seen a nice specimen of Finch
Mine wulfenite crystals. This specimen
is still dirty and will look fantastic once
cleaned. These have a very thin
|Below is wulfenite crystals with a heavy
coating of chalcedony. This also has a
whitish mineral that I believe is selenite
|Below: Freshly-dug dirty wulfenite crystals from the Fine Mine in Hayden, Arizona. This is a front and back view of the
same specimen. The appearance varies between the two sides, with one side having a black druse coating.
|One mighty blow from the sledge hammer happened to have been particularly well placed. A large section of rock (shown below) broke off yielding a sizeable
vug lined with wulfenite crystals. This section was so large and nice that I didn't even notice the smaller piece (that is shown above) which was laying in the
hole!! I suppose the large specimen induced a form of tunnel vision.
|Below left: Heavy chalcedony
over wulfenite crystals.
Below right.: Light
chalcedony coating on yellow
wulfenite crystals on a
sparkling black druze matrix.
|Prospective visitors to the Finch Mine would do well to stay at the
General Kearney Inn. It's a no-frills kind of place but reasonably clean
and 10 miles from the mine. While staying there I had taken some
pictures of the cactus to send to my daughter. I'll share them here
because it's the exact same types of cactus found at the Finch Mine.