Today at Shoshone, California. Inyo County.

Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized video

Railroad Pass, Clark County Nevada

Railroad Pass, Clark County, Nevada — (second page here —>)

Railroad Pass is outside of Boulder City where the dam is located. Bureau of Reclamation land. I’m here above the Railroad Pass Travel Center where there is dedicated parking for the River Mountain Loop Trail.(external link)

This is a good place to explore from. Vehicle security is excellent and the convenience store provides food and restrooms.

A pretty day but no quartz. I lose interest without quartz. Must. Have. Quartz. Highlight was some blue tinged rhyolite, nothing else worth showing. No “U”, little “UV”.

Looking south. The Railroad Pass Travel Center is downslope. Railroad tracks make the best subjects.  As long as some train isn’t coming at you. Trains do not play well with others.

I thought this road might lead somewhere but it only went to the high tension transmission tower.

Setting the footings and erecting these transmission towers must have been hard work in this volcanic rock.

I’ll get my friend to identify this.

Looks like an optunia.

Working on it. For now, DYC. Damn yellow composite.

Didn’t go up that hill! Not with my wrenched back. Lot of rhyolite.
Simple geological map from

A hill of many colors, red, gray, tan, bleached. As if some mineral had leached out of the hill and then weathered.


“Volcanic rocks-[includes some unmapped dikes and small irregular intrusive masses. In north -central part of quadrangle (north of U.S. Highway 93) the contact with unit mapped as volcanic and intrusive rocks (Trvi) is arbitrarily drawn; near that contact most of the unit consists of highly fractured altered lavas and volcaniclastic rocks that are cut by dikes and bleached to various pastel colors as a result of argillc and silicic alteration; away from the contact equivalent(?) rocks are distinctly darker and less altered, such as east of Railroad Pass where conspicuous dark-reddish-brown exposures of grayish-red to grayish-red -purple highly faulted lavas of intermediate composition and interstratified sandy to conglomeratic sedimentary rocks are exposed. The lavas contain 5–20 percent phenocrysts of plagioclase, hornblende, and biotite and minor augite or olivine. The sedimentary rocks contain clasts of porphyritic plutonic rocks of probable late Tertiary age. Near the TV reflector the rocks are intensely sheared by several low-angle faults that juxtapose contrasting lithologies including altered tuffaceous sedimentary rocks and brecciated red and dark-gray intermediate lavas. To the east dark-gray more mafic lavas that are probably stratigraphically lower are cut by numerous white to light-gray dikes.”

Now, I have to read up on argillic and silicic alteration.

Did you notice the reference in the text to the “TV reflector”? That might seem impossible to locate today, however, since I collect old maps, I was able to find it on a 1960s Metsker’s Map of Clark County, Nevada. All old maps are valuable, most especially those showing township, range, and section.

From left to right: mountain bike trail, Union Pacific tracks, River Mountain Loop Trail, HWY 11/95

Blue tinged rhyolite. Hmm. I stop at all things blue. No cutting material.

Technical mountain biking trail. Part of the larger Railroad Pass Loop. My days of this are over. It was fun, though. While I’m sure you won’t believe me, this segment of the trail is so difficult that it’s called The Shit. Look at the Google Map at the bottom of this page. You’ll see.

Can you see what is happening here? Nothing mining related, someone has hollowed out a side in the hill.
I think this may have been a sleeping place for some worker, since daytime temps can exceed 110 degrees in the summer. Maybe best to seek cool earth.

A cloud came over! Clouds and weather played havoc with my magazine article photography. Notice how my other photographs are bright and sunny? And then you have this pall. Not good but you can’t control it other than waiting. What was really tough was when I had to come back to a site a week or two later to photograph some things again.  The look of an area might be completely changed and I’d have a goofy looking selection of photos. Also, FYI, editors want portrait orientation, even if you are shooting landscapes or outdoor scenes. Their layout people always want choices, so try to get a few shots in portrait mode. That arrow points to what I think may be andesite. I am going to find out later.

Really nice looking mud cracks with a popcorn top. I’m sure there is a reason. Life always has more mysteries than answers. That’s what it does.

The truck stop. When you need a powerful symbol for your tough, macho company, always use a cat.

Railroad Pass, Clark County, Nevada — (second page here —>)
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

Day Three of the PowWow and at Desert Gardens, Quartzsite, Arizona, Friday, January 17th

NB: Short link for this page is:

Friday at the QIA PowWow and Desert Gardens

Day Three of the QIA PowWow greeted everyone again with perfect weather. Cool mornings and then long sleeve shirt weather in the afternoon. Wind picking up later in the day but no more than a breeze.

Day Three at The QIA PowWow 2020 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Although I was trying to keep focused through the day, my mind kept returning to a location I discovered halfway between Parker and Quartzsite while investigating railroad ballast. (external link) My gold prospecting spidey sense kept tingling. Yes, I may be talking to you. But I’d rather leave to sample some black sand. Gold fever is a true sickness. (internal link)

I was at the PowWow only long enough to exchange a piece of eudialyte that I had bought the day before from Alexander Blagula. (internal link) All of the previous night my purchase had bothered me. I had settled for what I could afford, not the cab I truly wanted. Before heading to Quartzsite I stopped at Wells Fargo in Parker to get the extra money I needed. Alexander seemed happy to see me, as I think he knew what I wanted to do. With graciousness he took back my first stone and gave complete credit for the new cab. In the way he talked and acted, I got the feeling that he was glad I was buying his best material. This video is from the day before (internal link)

Alexander Balagula of Unique Russian Mineral from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Desert Gardens

I took a few videos of the crowd at the PowWow and then moved across I-10 to Desert Gardens. To make it there, I used the frontage road as I had always done. Before you get to Desert Gardens, however, you have to pass through the Tyson Wells venue area. That venue sells a variety of things, not just rocks. It was complete madness, just looking at the teeming crowds put me nearly into a panic attack. I couldn’t imagine anyone voluntarily entering that swarm yet hundreds, if not thousands, seemed happy to do so.

Once at Desert Gardens things calmed down. The aisles are wider than the PowWow, making it seem more relaxed. The food, though, expect for the hot dogs, was limited and disappointing. I think the food is prepared by vendors who pay to be there, rather than cooked by happy volunteers. I’d bring your own food as you will probably be wandering for several hours. The big rocks are here, especially of rough of all kinds. Every vendor was from somewhere different, each had their own story and their own experiences. Each was an expert on at least several of the rocks or minerals they were selling. They all have their favorites, although they are often hesitant to name them. A number of fluorescent mineral dealers were at Desert Gardens. I didn’t see any radioactive minerals.

The first folks I met were at P.V. Rocks. Gary Peavy owns this business and he hails from Peoria, Illinois. He does some regional shows but once a year he gets out to Quartzsite. Wide variety of materials with much from the Midwest. E-mail is and his website is

PV’s Rocks at Desert Gardens, Quartzsite, 2020 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

I was finally able to meet up with R.C. of Geological Specimen Supply (external link). He hand carried my latest order to me, rather than posting it as usual. Just what I needed, another box of rocks. He pointed out T-Cat in his van. R.C. always takes a cat collecting with him. He had been looking at PowWow for what I used to call peridot in vesicular basalt. I think he is saying it is actually peridotite xenolith in basalt. I think. I always have to read up on what R.C. says to me. It’s a great learning experience. He answered some of my pesky rock questions and seemed interested in the crazy looking railroad ballast I had seen near the La Paz County Fairground. Yes, rockhounds and geologists are interested in railroad ballast.

I also caught up with the Keadys of Rockchuck in Schurz, Nevada. (external link) I’ve written extensively on them before. Chelsea is continuing lapidary while awaiting the birth of her first child. I have their video on a previous page, but, what the heck, here it is again.

After many tries, I also managed to find Laura Fitzpatrick, otherwise known as #geologistonboard. She is an Instagram influencer, who has thousands of followers. She writes extensively and in depth on geology and travels the world with her husband hunting and investigating everything rock related. She recently toured the Himalayas, reporting on each step of the way through Instagram. It’s all about the Gram. She agreed to an impromptu interview inside her well kitted Geo Mobile, a specially outfitted four wheel Mercedes van. She turned out to be a real gold bug and marvelled over my gold in quartz jewelry, insisting on taking pictures of the pieces. I tried not to bore her with my prospecting stories but she followed every detail of my accounts. Through the internet she is helping thousands learn about geology and to give people accounts and pictures of places most of us will never see.


I also talked with David Bintliff of the Rock Broker. See the video below. My big regret was that I did not stay or ask that he light up these rocks. I tried to make it the next day but bridge traffic was terrible. If you meet David, he does have lamps on site and I am sure he will show you what is happening with these multiple colored rocks.

David Bintliff of the Rock Broker. 605-593-6012.

It was a treat, too, to meet the folks at Jim’s Rough Rocks who have a banner proclaiming Ocean Breeze Jasper. Their Facebook page is here:

They are from Redmond, Oregon. Not the Redmond in Washington State, home to Microsoft, but Redmond, Oregon. I messed up on the video and misstated their business name. Apologies. Will try to fix.

Jim's Rough Rocks at Desert Gardens in Quartzsite. 2020. from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

A few more hours in Quartzsite tomorrow and then I head off Saturday afternoon for Kingman, Arizona. Stay tuned.

Pow Wow Show Promoters
Mike & Carolyn Zinno

Quartzsite Improvement Association
235 E. Ironwood Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346

You can read more about Quartzsite at Rock&Gem’s website and Facebook page. (external link). I was covering the day to day at the PowWow for them this year and I have written extensively on all things Quartzsite in the past.

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

non-fiction writing Thoughts on writing

New Book Coming Along Well

Ran off a copy of what I have written so far. A good two to three more months of work. Coming along.

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

The Harding Pegmatite Mine in Taos County, New Mexico

The Harding Pegmatite Mine in Taos County, New Mexico is owned by the State and managed by the University of New Mexico. You can visit and collect up to five pounds of material but there is a procedure you must follow and an unmarked entrance road you must find.

I describe those details in my Places to Visit and Collect in the Southwest file (external link) at my rockhounding site.

Taos County is D.H. Lawrence country and still home to countless artists, writers, and their studios.

These photographs are from last October.

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

books editing writing organizing writing rocks and lapidary Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

From My Book: Places to Visit and Collect in The Southwest

November 7, 2019

The latest version of this file will always be at my rockhounding site:

Here’s the latest version of my Places to Visit or Collect in the Southwest:






I do have a mobi or Kindle format for mobile but it is hosted at my rockhounding site, this personal blog website can’t host that kind of file:





These are places I visited or were recommended to me while traveling in the Southwest for my book. I mostly visited rock related places and ground open to collecting.

Weather wise, October may be the best time to travel the Southwest, followed by May.

It is impractical to visit every place you want to go because day after day you will find certain stores, mines, and museums closed.

Traveling Monday through Thursday is especially tough, my advice is to prospect or collect on those days and then try to visit businesses and museums closer to the weekend.

You will have to return to the Southwest to visit places closed on your first travel. I envy you.

Support Me at Patreon


Table of Contents

State Chapters

California (Southern)
Colorado (Southern)
Nevada (Southern)
New Mexico
Utah (Southern)

Map Stores

Desert Map and Aerial Photo – Palm Desert, CA
Wide World Maps & MORE! – Phoenix, Az (Central)
Wide World Maps & MORE! – Phoenix, Az (North)
Most BLM and USFS district offices sell local maps of areas they manage

Surveying Stores

Colton Surveying Instruments – Colton, CA

Rock, Gift, and Prospecting Shops by State


Sunshine Gallery and Gifts – St. David
Meteor Crater Gift Shop – Outside of Winslow
Rock-a-Buy – Duncan
Jim and Ellen’s Rock Shop – Cottonwood
The Gold Lady – Golden Valley / Kingman
The Miners Depot – Quartzsite
More shops in this file further on, to be hyperlinked soon . . .

California (Southern)

The Collector – Fallbrook
Desert Discoveries Rock Shop – Boron
Diamond Pacific – Barstow
Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society – Fallbrook
Minerals Unlimited – Ridgecrest
More shops in the text, working on hyperlinking . . . .

Colorado (Southern)

San Juan Gems – Cortez

Nevada (Southern)

Cactus Joes Nursery, Las Vegas
Rupprecht Estate Rock Yard – Las Vegas
Jewelry and Mineral of Las Vegas

Hidden Treasures Trading Company, Goldfield
Vanderford’s Gold Strike, Goldfield
Rock Chuck – Schurz

More shops in the text, working on hyperlinking . . .

New Mexico

Mama’s Minerals – Albuquerque
Mama’s Minerals – Santa Fe
New Mexico’s Mineral Museum and Gift Shop – Socorro
More shops in this file further on, to be hyperlinked soon . . .

Fee Digs, Tours, and Appointment Necessary Visiting
Courtland Ghost Town -Tours – Dig – Pearce, AZ
Gemfield Gem Claims – Dig – Goldfield, NV
Florence Mine – Tour – Goldfield, NV
El Dorado Canyon Mine Tours – Tour – Nelson, NV
Peridot Dreams – Tour or Surface Collect, San Carlos, AZ
Himalaya Mine – Screen Wash – Lake Isabella, CA
Oceanview Mine/Pala Chief – Dig – Wash Screen -Pala, CA
Ernst Quarries/Shark Tooth Hill – Dig – Bakersfield, CA
Questa Fire Agate Mine – Dig – Oatman, AZ
Blanchard – Desert Rose – Dig – Bingham, NM
Kelly Mine – Dig – Magdalena, NM
Prospecting or local rock and gem club membership often provide access to private fee digs


Many museums listed in the text, working on hyperlinking . . .


Many clubs listed in the text, working on hyperlinking. . . .

Organizations I Financially Support (external links):
Fluorescent Mineral Society:

Clubs I Belong To (external links)

Southern Utah Rock Club:
Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society:
Nye Gold Seekers:

Businesses I Regularly Use and Endorse (external links)

Geological Specimen Supply:
Minerals Unlimited:

Arizona (and one exception in Utah) [back to top]

James Mitchell’s Gem Trails of Arizona is dated but essential.

Anyone traveling extensively off-pavement in Arizona should get an Arizona State Trust Land Permit. $15.00 for individuals. Rockhounding on Arizona State Trust Land is prohibited but stopping at any point on these lands constitutes a “use” and that use demands a permit. Determining where these properties exists while driving is nigh impossible, most are managed grazing land outside of small towns or settlements. Rather than guess, it may be easier just to get a permit.

Washington County (Utah)

BLM Arizona Strip Office
345 E Riverside Dr.
St. George, UT 84790

37°04.986′ N 113°34.611′ W

This office is physically present in Utah but manages Arizona land. They manage the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, a no collecting area, and the Virgin River Recreation Management Area in northwest Arizona, a noted rockhound area. The office has some nice rock and mineral displays.

On my last visit they requested that I fill out a rockhound permit when I asked about collecting. This form applied to casual use, not commercial operations which demands a permit. No other office has asked me to fill such a thing out and other BLM offices look at the document with curiosity. Many BLM and USFS offices act as their own fiefdom, drawing up practices and procedures to fit their particular area.

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Drone non-fiction writing Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

Out Rockhounding in The Nopah Range

Went rockhounding Monday an hour’s drive west of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nopah Range is mostly in Inyo County, California. Extremely scenic, no trees. Bring your own shade. 

A geologist friend of mine remarked on the photo below, “That’s where sand comes from!”

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

rocks and lapidary

Back to the Nopah Range Wilderness Area

Took a break a few days ago to continue exploring the Nopah Range in Inyo, County, California. I was looking for an old silver and lead prospect. Didn’t find it.

As always, incredible scenery even with the temperature near a hundred degrees. Bring your own shade. Wonderful pieces of quartzite scattered on the ground, some nicely pink. The next time I go I will collect a half bucket or so for tumbling.


Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

Field Trip in California’s Mojave Desert Coming Up!

I’ve been to this rock shop several times and gone out on one of their field trips. Highly recommended to do both. If you can’t catch this trip, check out their schedule for future events. Only fifty people permitted on this trip. Have fun!

Field Trip March 23d

Mining Supplies and Rock Shop and Hesperia Recreation and Park District are sponsoring field trips for $10.00 per person paid in advance, in our store.  If you wish to pay through our website it will be $11.00 per person.  Go to, choose field trips and buy the field trip you wish to attend by clicking the “add to cart” button. Paying at the sight is $20.00 per person. Everyone paying in advance will receive an email explaining where the gathering site is, what time to meet, what we will be finding, what to bring, approximate times, etc. You are welcome to join up with others at the site who may have 4-wheel drive. We will be accepting only 50 people for this trip.

Saturday, March 23rd, North Cady Mountains – 4-wheel trip

Hi all, we will be meeting right off the Basin Rd exit on I-15.  We are meeting at 8:00am and will be leaving the staging area by 8:15am sharp!  This is a location that never fails to please.  Collecting areas exsist for fluorite, many colors of agate, Sagenite, nodules and so much more. At this site there are many options to choose from.  Collecting can be done in the parking area or we can hike to any of the many locations all with 1 mile or so of the parking area.  This is an advanced 4-wheel drive out to the site. All vehicles going must be high clearance 4-wheel or all-wheel drive. Deep sand and a few very rough hills are included in this drive.  There is a gas station one exit past Basin Rd, but it is not cheap!  Those who want to go and do not have 4-wheel drive may try to team up with people who do at our gathering site, but this is not a guarantee.

You will need to bring a rock hammer and a bucket to carry your finds in.  You may also want to bring extra tools such as a heavy hammer, chisels, protective eye wear, and a pickaxe, in case you want to try and pry loose some of the agate seams still locked in the hard matrix rock.  Make sure to have plenty of water, some snacks, sunscreen, and a full size spare tire (or two) for your vehicle.  Some of the sites require a bit of a hike to get to and the ground can have a lot of loose rocks so please where some good shoes!  Hope to see you all there!!!

For further information please call: Mining Supplies and Rock Shop 760.508.1080 or William A Johnson Trip Leader Cell: 760-267-1333.


Lois Papner
Mining Supplies and Rock Shop

760 244-9642


Categories Uncategorized

Back from Plymouth, California

I am back from the Mother Lode Country of California. For the next two weeks I will be working hard on my book before I take another collecting road trip. As I left Plymouth I happened upon a mysterious rock outcropping that I am only now researching. My recent post at my rockhounding website starts a discussion on what might be called iron stained scrambled eggs. The post is here: