In October of 2012 I had plans to go to Arizona to camp and rockhound with several family members. As the time approached, one thing and then another led to just about everyone dropping off the list of attendees. One of my sons lives in Deming, New Mexico, and the other lives in Tucson, Arizona. Since we were the only 3 people still planning on going, we modified our plans and met in Deming with plans to go to several close by places by day and return to a steak on the grill and all the comforts of home at night.
Neither of my sons had the rockhound bug, but both love to hike and explore new places, so they went along with that in mind and figured that if they found a rock or two, that would be ok too. One of the day trips we took was to the Fluorite Ridge mining district, northeast of Deming about 12 miles. There are two or three old mines that at the time were closed and reclaimed, but still have tailing piles that are accessible. Getting there was very easy, the dirt road that leads to the area is off of NM 26 and is maintained and passable by car, no four-wheel drive needed.
After we parked near the base of one of the tailing piles, we did some hiking and kicked a few rocks just to see what was there. We found agates and jasper in abundance and then I walked up on a pile of Psilomelane. When I say a pile, I mean a big pile, a foot and a half wide and four or five feet long and when I put my shovel into it, it was at least a foot deep. This was an obvious discard pile, I suppose from the mine, so there weren’t any spectacular specimens, but it was fun to see so much of it in one place. We collected some of the better-looking ones and left the rest for the next rockhound (I’ve been back a few times thru the years, and most of it is still there).
After taking a lunch break we started picking around on the mine tailings, and I decided to start digging on the side of the dump, back towards the mine entrance. I started finding some nice chunks of Fluorite and soon the guys started digging their own holes. We found lots of discarded stones, some on matrix and some not. Thumb size to fist size and even a couple of football size chunks. As the sun was setting I recommended that we fill our holes and head to town, but the guys weren’t having any of that, the rockhound bug had bitten them by that time. They said, “we still have some daylight, and we have headlamps too”. Sure enough, we did have our L.E.D. headband flashlights with us, so we put them on and dug a little more.
As the last of the daylight faded away, we started filling our holes, sorting what we wanted to keep and tossing the rest around the area so they could be found by someone without a shovel later. Fluorite Ridge is a great place to go if you want easy access, moderate terrain and plentiful collecting opportunities. For me, just getting my adult sons hooked on rockhounding made this a great place to go.