October 27, 2016. Update: Dean Otteson has passed. He conducted the mine dig I went on. He was friendly, affable, and upbeat. He had true enthusiasm for turquoise and he treated our tour group extremely well. The mine tours and digs are no longer being conducted. Everyone is saddened by his loss. . . .
May 18, 2017. Update. While going through my phone, I found a voice message from Dean. He had called to congratulate me on the article. I thought I’d post it for those who’d like to hear his voice again.
In the middle of October, 2015 I was set to move some personal possesions to Las Vegas. I could take any number of routes from Sacramento but the road I was most interested in passed through Tonopah, Nevada. That was the point from which the Ottesons conducted tours and digs of their Royal Royston turquoise claim. I had recently become interested in turquoise and as a rockhound I felt I should capitalize on visiting the site before operations shut down for the winter. Such an adventure was surely worth an article. But what magazine would be interested?
I approached the editor of Rock&Gem (external link) with a preliminary question: would the mine’s high dig fee ($100) preclude my article from being considered? She assured me that although all articles were taken on speculation, (internal link) she thought many readers would pay that kind of fee and that she would certainly review my piece. With that encouragement, I set off on my journey, taking in as many side venues as I could along the way. I would eventually tour and photograph the Keck Museum in Reno, The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Sales Office outside that town, the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, and the Tonopah Historic Mining Park.
The following are photographs and captions not contained in the January, 2016 issue.
The large and awesome Luella Margrave Turquoise Collection at the W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Museum on the campus of UNR. Predominantly Nevada specimens, this display may inspire me to begin my own Nevada collection.
The Royston Mining District lies about 25 miles Northwest of Tonopah.
Dean Otteson talking with one of our group. A brilliant Nevada day. Over ten family members have claims in the Royston Hills. Turquoise is a family affair, so much so that Dean says they have been pitched a reality show.
Just one part of one cabinet at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Outstanding collection of Nevada rocks, gems, and minerals. Note the turquoise rough.
Stop in at the Mizpah Hotel when visiting Tonopah to see the Otteson’s turquoise turned into jewelry.
The view from the dash, leaving the claim. The essence of rural Nevada. A solar power facility collector glows in the lower center-right. And if these words and pictures won’t get you to go, I’ll leave it to Kipling in The Explorer. (internal link) This is just part:
Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”
July 5, 2016 update: I have gone on to have another article published in Rock&Gem. Read about it here. (internal link). And in August, 2016, Rock&Gem will publish another article of mine.