Virgin Valley Opal
Rookie Year Opal Hunting 2003
It was a hot day at the Royal Peacock Mining Co.
My mother, my aunt and I made the trip from Sisters, Oregon to Virgin Valley, Nevada
hauling our 23 foot camp trailer. We arrived around 4 PM and set up camp. Later, dining on steak and remarking how pleasantly it had cooled
off we were anticipating a good following day to look for opal. This was my first trip to the Virgin Valley and I envisioned pieces of opal
the size of logs waiting to be found. One thing I learned at the Royal Peacock
is how early things get started. I awoke at around 5:30 AM and stuck my head out the door
of the trailer to get a look around and was surprised to see several individuals up and
going about their day as if it was getting late.
The hurried activity in the campground really started to become noticeable around 7:30.
I went to the gift shop at 7:45 and the
nice lady said I could go on up to the mine anytime. If I had of known that I would
have been up there much earlier. The gals finaly got their ducks in a row at about 8:10 and
we drove up to the mining location about a mile away. We drove the dirt road past what I
would call a small herd of burros , are they called herds?
They "hehawed hehawed" at us as we drove by. We arrived and all along a big bank were
people and vehicles. We found an open spot at the end of the bank and backed our truck
into position. Time to find opals I thought to myself as I jumped out and began pulling
tools from the rig. I sunscreened up and then found I had somehow lost my hat. I
tied a bandana around my head against the hot sun and was ready to go. I aproached a
large pile of very large dirt clods and had to think; somewhere, just somewhere, is an opal in
all of this mess. I began to break up the huge clods with my rock pick. After an hour of digging I had
found only one rather ugly looking limbcast the size of half a snickers bar. I turned my
attention to the bank and soon was getting into some "glass" or plain black opal. The big glass I was getting
had me excited and I worked the area over looking for some with fire. Soon I found some and let my mom handle the extraction because she was much more careful.
I was thrilled when she handed me a couple pieces with
bright play of color. A guy up the bank from us came into a big piece of black fire opal
that was the "find of the day", and one guy on the tailing pile came into a gorgeous piece of
yellow opal. My mom also found a small piece of precious opal that was perfectly white
and full of color on the tailing pile. I found what amounted to five small pieces and they showed pretty good color. I hadn't found the super-sized log, but I had gotten my feet
wet and I was hooked! Many of the people hadn't found anything. On the way
back to the camp I noticed the burros had moved strategically into the shade, smart
Copyright 2003-2004 Ken Dinneen
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