Deming, New Mexico Trip
March 9-12, 2006

by Dale Gann

After a 10 hour drive we reached Rockhound State Park and set up camp. Rockhound State Park is located about 15 miles southeast of Deming, NM at the base of the Little Florida Mountains.

On Sunday Jack Crandall and I went to a small rock and gem show in Hachita, NM. There were about 10 dealers. There were 2 that caught my attention, one was from Mexico and had Selinite Rose clusters and Aragonite, both at very good prices. The other was from Deming. His name was Rich and he had an agate claim near the “Big Diggins” claim. He was selling very unusual triangular shaped agate from his claim. Of course I had to buy some. When we got done at the Hachita show we headed for a blue agate site near Virden. The agate was in weathered basalt. I found a nice banded piece in the basalt and worked on it for over an hour. It’s still where I found it in the basalt. We didn’t have much luck there so we went to another site northwest of Silver City that was reported to have Apache Tears. We found the site and only 2 Apache Tears. On the way back to Deming we tried to get to an artifact site but the gate was locked.

On Monday we decided to head towards Cooks Peak and Fluorite Ridge for Fluorite. We found the Fluorite at an abandoned mine site but it was in massive form and didn’t interest us. I did find some nice drusy quarts pieces. We then went down the road several miles and saw a weathered basalt outcrop and decided to stop. While climbing around on the hills I found an area of wonder stone, a type of banded ryolite. The material was well silicfied and should take a nice polish. There were chunks in many different combinations of yellow, red, orange and white.

When we were done at Cooks Peak we decided to try our luck at an agate deposit near Hatch. We found the site as described in the guide book but we didn’t find the agate. As I was hiking through a wash at the bottom of a diversion damn I saw a rock in the wash that was totally different than all the rest. Of course I had to check it out. It was about a foot across and looks like a piece of petrified banana plant. It has layers that resemble the different leaf layers I remember seeing as a kid in Miami. The layers are smooth and colored differently than the internal matrix. I need to get pictures of it to a petrified wood expert to get it identified. I have never seen anything like it.

On Tuesday we went into Deming to visit the Mimbres Luna Museum. I had read that they had the Thunderegg and Geode collection assembled by Paul “The Geode Kid” Colburn. The collection contained examples of thundereggs and geodes from all over the western half of the United States along with other mineral and petrified wood specimens. The museum also had a very nice collection of Native American artifacts including both Folsum and Clovis points.

We connected with 2 other members of the club, Mike and Paul. We left the museum and headed back to Rockhound State Park to try and find the nodules that others have found there. One of the volunteers at the park gave me a map to his “secrete deposit”. As usual it didn’t pan out.

Wednesday the 4 of us headed to the Round Mountain Rock Hound area in Arizona northwest of Lordsburg, NM. The site is known for Chalcedony roses and fire agate. When we got to the site the material was lying all over the ground. Great collecting. It made up for the poor results from the previous days. We all collected our fill and headed down the trail. We got to the end of the trail and ate lunch and were off again. This area had larger pieces. I started following the trail of pieces up the mountain and found the source, another basalt outcrop. Along with the larger pieces of chalcedony I also found pieces still weathering out of the basalt.

Thursday was the first day of the Deming show and the first opportunity to go on one of the club sponsored field trips. While I was standing in line Dan and Vicki Aber showed up. So all 6 of us signed up for the trip to the club’s agate claim named “Big Diggins”. The club had brought in a backhoe and dug 2 trenches. You could dig in the trench or the tailings. I dug in both and found my limit of 25 pounds. The agate is red with white banding. I found several vugs with a red rind with clear quartz and calcite inside. Great material. We left at about 1:30 so we could check out the show back in Deming.

There were about 100 dealers located both in and outside. All types of material were displayed. Lots of local material along with material brought up from Mexico. Some very good deals could be had.

Friday Dan and Vicki went on the field trip to the Baker Thunderegg mine owned by The Geode Kid. The rest of us decided not to go on the club trip to the mine because the Kid said we could go to the mine any time we wanted without having to deal with the crowd. We decided to try to get up the north side of Cooks Peak and dig in the mine dumps. We tried several trails and all went to private land or locked gates. We decided to go the Fluorite Ridge instead. Mike led us to a Fluorite vein he had found on an earlier trip. We collected for a little while and decided to go down the road to the ryolite site. We found multiple banded ryolite outcrops with some very nice material. I also found a nice crinoid fossil on a piece of limestone.

Saturday we met at Mike’s place and headed to the Baker Thunderegg mine. The mine is about 30 miles southwest of Deming. On the way to the mine we passed the Air Forces Aerostat base. The Aerostat is a tethered surveyance balloon used to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. When we got to the mine there were several areas that had been dug in the past. We decided to dig at the main pit. The pit was about 30 feet deep with fairly straight sides. The matrix was somewhat hard and the eggs were spread throughout the formation. Digging in the sides was hard so I dug in the loose material. We all found a good number of eggs ranging from 1 to 3 inches across. I found several with a shape that resembled hot dog buns. I have cut several and they have red banded agate with clear quartz in the center. Some are solid and some are hollow.

Jack and I left early to go through the show one last time. That afternoon the wind really kicked up and it made for an interesting time for the outside dealers. When Jack and I got our fill we decided to go back to Fluorite Ridge to find some more fossils. I found some nice ones on and in limestone. After leaving the fossil site I decided to try and find a psilamalane site. We followed the directions and found the site. At first we only found small pieces on the surface. I started to scrape the surface and found larger pieces. The Geode Kid had some polished pieces that were really neat. I have some in the tumbler as I write this.

Sunday we broke camp and headed home. We made good time until we hit snow at Monument. From Monument to Denver it took 3 hours. All in all it was a great trip. We collected in new areas for us and in some of Mike’s favorite.

Now it’s time to plan the next big trip.