This weekend we went to the Oceanview Mine in Pala Ca. It was a blast!! Back in the early 1900's or so a gem called Pink Tourmaline was found in the area. The then Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi of China loved pink tourmaline and bought large quantities for gemstones and carvings. And that is how San Diego county became the hub for pink tourmaline.
Fast forward to now and 95% of the mines in this area have shut down, if not totally then to the public. However the Oceanview Mine still lets the public come and sift through the trash pile. This is how it works....During the week they blast in the actual mine and do the money making thing. Then they take all the trash and rubble push it into a pile for the tourists to sift through on the weekend. You pay $60 a person and drive WAYYYY out to BFE, follow these tiny signs on to private property, turn off the paved road and then a lady in a ATV meets you to take your $ and release forms (It is No-Fun-Afornia so there HAS to be legal stuff) Then you drive up the mountain to the circle of stations and the pile.
We had a great time and will be going again. I would highly recommend adding this to your list of adventures in the SD area if you are out here. Reservations are a little shady but take my word for it TOTALLY LEGIT. SUPER FUN!!
They actually have a really nice set up not to mention the view. One of the miner guys says they can handle about 71 tourists at a time. 71 x $60 = A pretty decent profit for cleaning out the trash and baby sitting tourists. Anyway all the stations come with 2 screens a larger grated one and a smaller one, toothbrush, trowel, bucket, and water bin. All this is propped up on a table with the top cut out so all the dirt and junk can be thrown right underneath.
Right at 11am the heard all the people around and give us a little tutorial on how to do this the most efficient way and the rules of the pile. Lead guy says "You only need 15 secs at most at the pile. I don't want to become the pile nazi but I will if I have to. DO NOT pick at the pile, take your bucket scoop and go." Since I can't lift a full bucket roomie and BF we nice enough to bring me my allotments. In return I would clean out the water bin. This is something else they were VERY clear on. Because if you don't clean your water after every 2-3 screens it will turn to cement-ish gunk and break the watertub.
Away we went! Bucket dumped in to screen one,which is stacked on screen two. Pull all the giant pieces and wash them toss underneath if they are junk place on ledge if they are keepers. Shake all dirt and small pieces so they fall on to screen two, dunk in water and wash everything off. Once you pick through screen one repeat process with screen two. We did this for two hours and then took lunch.
You have to bring everything with you, food water, hat sunscreen ect. (Remember to bring dish gloves, our hands are TORN up!) We stopped at the store and got sandwiches. I think they were planning on sharing with EVERYONE on the mountain. Some people brought beer we will plan better next time.
We didn't leave till they kicked us out at 4pm. Other people started straggling out at about 2 but we were in it till the end. This is a HUNK of Green Tourmaline that BF found. They say that 1/5 of it can be cut into a setting. He might just keep it as a pretty paper weight though.
This is what made these mines famous. Pink Tourmaline!! This is a gem quality piece that Roomie found. They were all oohing over it at the mine. Very very nice find.
Other random semi-important finds: Watermelon Tourmaline (Green rind with pink inner) Kunzinte (glass looking stuff lower left) Aqua Marine (Upper left)
Till next time.....