Copper Rivet Mine Trip Report
Members attending: The Voyle's, the Knoshaug's, the Knight's, Bob Loeffler, Bob Berry, Moyra Lyne and the Mitcheltree's. Since this was a joint trip with the Gates and RAMS clubs, Bill and Ted (last names unknown), Ron Anderson, Donna Hughston, Tim Hillsten, and April Pullin and her friend Karen were also there. There were several others attending from the other clubs, although I don't know their names.
We all met in the parking lot of the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, CO. The annual Grand Junction Show was occuring this weekend, so there were a few more cars than you might have expected. From Grand Junction, we had to drive 1.5 to 2 hours south to the mine. Along the way, the group stopped at an old alabaster mine to look for a little bit of that material. We all then continued to the Copper Rivet Mine.
The Copper Rivet was really cool, but it was a very strenuous hike to the dump and then an even worse one to the main mine adit. A few of the rockhounds decided not to bother hiking up there because they could see how far up it was, maybe a 1000 ft vertical climb. The trip leader was Bill. I found out that he has been dubbed the "Billy goat", and it's obvious why! This was a moderate hike for him and mountain goats, but for most humans, it was difficult to extreme.
For those of us who made the hike, the mine dump was easy to dig/collect in, so that kept many people busy for a while. Approximately 100 to 200 feet up the slope, above the dump, was the main adit to the mine. Because of the steep angle, it took a little while to get there but we finally did. Brian and Wendy M. got some nice calcites out of the main tunnel, as did Ron A. and Ted. They were all packing up to head back down the mountain as Moyra and I were just arriving.
There were actually two adits. The main tunnel was crystalized with azurite, malachite and calcite (among other things). We entered the first adit and went in approximately 450 feet (according to Bob Berry who measured it using a string) and found the main stope where we collected for an hour or so. It seemed pretty stable so we weren't too afraid it would cave in on us. There were two levels that we could navigate. The level above us had even more mineralization, so Bob B. and I went up there for a while. To get there, we had to climb a wooden ladder that felt a little shaky although I'm sure it was as safe as when it was made many many years ago. He got some good specimens; mine weren't the best. I went back down the ladder to the main level and did some chiseling there. I was going after a nice double-terminated calcite crystal that appeared to be an inch long, but it was at a bad angle in a crevice that was the length of my arm, so I wasn't able to get it out. There was plenty of material laying about inside the mine, so there was plenty to take even if you couldn't break anything off the walls. When we were finished, it was time to come down. This was even more difficult than going up because of all the slippery rocks and dirt, and because we were all a little heavier with mineral specimens. :-)
The other adit was easier to get to since it was at the same elevation as the first mine's dump, but it was tunneled through red sandstone and the only mineralization that I saw was a few calcite seams (no good crystals). Outside, there were many nice micromount specimens (although I am not generally a micromounter), so the original miners obviously found something there, but we didn't see anything in the couple hundred feet that we went in. We didn't have hard hats, and the ceiling had some fractured sandstone, so we didn't feel comfortable in this tunnel.
While some of us were digging, Bill led another group to a fossil tracks area. I was later told that it was quite far away and required another somewhat strenuous hike.
Oh, did I mention the bats? We saw 3 bats in the two tunnels. They were sleeping and didn't bother us, although we might have been bothering them a little just by being there. The only other sign of life in or near the mine was a large black widow spider just outside the main entrance. It was as big as the ones I used to see in Phoenix as I was growing up! And of course, there were the usual birds and small animals around our campsite and along the trail.
After 2 days of digging, hiking and chiseling, it was time to head back home to Denver, almost a 6 hour drive. But it was another great trip to a neat place, so I won't complain!