Here's one for when you get tired of feeding the one-armed bandits in Vegas or Jean, NV.
The Argentina Mine is quite large and has pockets of exposed galena that you can chisel out of the host rock. Be sure to take along extra flashlight and batteries and a face shield might come in handy when chiseling.
Galena from the Argentina mine
This site gives you the opportunity to do some "hard rock" mineral collecting. You need a good heavy hammer (a 2 or 3 pounder) and some sharp chisels. You will also need a good lantern or flashlight since the minerals are back in the dark reaches of the mine. If your light goes out and you don't have a back-up I hope you told someone where to look for your corpse. This is a large mine with many tunnels so pay attention when you are moving about.
The primary mineral is galena which is lead sulfide. It is a shiny gray with a hint of iridescence. After it has weathered it loses some of it's shine. When you are looking for it in the mine look for dark gray patches. Then get out your hammer and chisel and cut the host rock away from the sample you want. When galena fractures it breaks into cubic shapes. The bigger the cubes the better the sample. The minerals is also very dense so a small piece weighs more than a piece of the host rock that is the same size.
We really enjoy going to this mine and haven't yet reached the end of it. There's really a lot to see in there, like the old ore cart rails that go down in one tunnel and up in a different tunnel. In one area the walls just glitter from the minute druse that covers almost everything.
To get to this site I recommend using a 4x4. You can get close with a vehicle that has some clearance but you will need to climb up a fairly steep ridge. With a 4x4 you can slowly drive right to the entrance.
From Las Vegas, NV. take the interstate to Jean, NV. and head "west" towards Goodsprings. About 4.5 or 5 miles from Jean a paved road goes to the left, take it. About 1 to 1 1/2 miles along this road you will be able to see some concrete structures off to the left and up hill from the road. I believe this is where the ore was brought. The Argentina mine is clear up on the far ridge. Keep going on the paved road for another mile or two. There is a fairly good road to the left. You will know you have the correct road because the are some mine tailing right next to the right side of this drive about 100 yards from the pavement. Go past these tailings for less than 1/2 mile if you don't have a 4x4 and find a place to park. You can see tailing scattered all along the ridge. Climb up and check the openings to find the one to the main workings. If you choose to follow the road it winds around and uphill past several areas that look like the rock has been heated quite hot. When you get near the top there is a drive going to the left. It will wind around and over to the mine. About .3 or .4 mile from the turn-off there should be a drive going to the left and down. There is not a lot of room at the bottom of the drive but with care you can get turned around down there.
When you get out of your vehicle look towards the drive you just came down and to the right of it you will see the mine entrance. Look in the tailings you parked on and you can find galena, some copper ores and some white opaque mineral. The white mineral is harder than calcite and softer than quartz. I haven't checked to see what it is yet (I'm just old and slow). If you drive past this turn you will come to the end of the ridge. If you get out and walk around the end you can look back towards Jean and down to the concrete structures you drove past earlier. There is one tunnel that goes straight through the ridge near this end of the drive.
The Mesquite Lake 30 x 60 minute topo map is the one you should have for this area. There are plenty of mines shown on this map, one of them has turquoise in the tailings and it's not far from this site. In fact you drove past it to get to the Argentina mine. With the map and these GPS co-ordinances you should be able to find the mine with little trouble. The GPS co-ords are N35°48.750' and W115°27.920'.
If you miss the turn when you get near the top of the ridge you will end up at some other small mines that are closed off so they can't be entered but the rock that is weathering out near them has some quartz crystals. They are small and weathered but you may get lucky and find a few good crystals.
If you choose to stay in the area the rooms in Jean are cheap most of the time. It is close and the food is good, but gas prices tend to be HIGH. Best to avoid the summer here as it gets hot, but October through April is pretty good. There's a lot of different minerals in the area to keep it interesting.
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