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Bighorn Mine (Big Horn; Lapis Lazuli deposit), Cascade Canyon, San Antonio Canyon, San Gabriel Mts, San Bernardino Co., California, USA
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Latitude: 34°12'36"N
Longitude: 117°38'45"W
The Bighorn mine is located in the SW¼ sec. 31, T2N, R7W, (SB). The deposit is one of the only known sources for jewelry and carving grade lapis lazuli in California.

Workings & Production:
Word of the discovery of gem-quality blue lapis lazuli in Cascade Canyon was first reported to D. B. Sterrett of the United States Geological Survey by mineral dealer R. M. Wilke of Palo Alto in 1910. A small cut along the deposit was developed by local miners who thought the blue color signified the presence of silver, but these workings were later abandoned when assays failed to show any valuable metal in the so-called ore.

On May 12th of 1979, Sam Speerstra located a lode mining claim to the deposit, naming it the Bighorn mine. During a brief period, the mine yielded lapis of the highest quality from what was determined to be a vast deposit exposed vertically from the top of the ridge to the canyon floor below for a distance of 300 feet along strike. Speerstra employed a crew of three men to produce between 50 and 150 pounds of lapis lazuli rock per day.

Speerstra advertised the lapis lazuli produced from the Bighorn mine for sale consisting of rough pieces with some matrix ranging in weight from 1/2 ounce to several pounds; for $20.00 per 1/2 pound, $35.00 per pound. The best or top quality material was priced at $30.00 per 1/2 pound, and $55.00 per pound respectively. Commercial mining had reportedly ceased by 1980.

The area is part of the National Forest system, and has been encumbered since 1964 by the Cucamonga Wilderness, designated for the protection and management of desert bighorn sheep, which has prevented further commercial mining in the area due to the withdrawal of mineral entry under the general mining laws of the United States.

Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities
Haüyne ?
var: Lazurite
'Lapis Lazuli'
var: Fuchsite

Sodalite ?

8 entries listed. 5 valid minerals.

Localities in this Region


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Sterrett, D. B. (1911), Gems and precious stones. Mineral Resources of the United States for 1910, part 2; Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey: 872.

Rogers, Austin Flint (1912), Notes on rare minerals from California: Columbia University, School of Mines Quarterly: 33: 377.

Surr, G. (1913), Lapis Lazuli in Southern California. Mining and Engineering World, Dec. 27, 39, p. 1153-1154.

Sterrett, D. B. (1914), Gems and precious stones. Mineral Resources of the United States for 1913; Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey: p. 674-675.

Merriam, R. and Laudermilk, J. D. (1936), Two Diopsides from Southern California. The American Mineralogist. 21(11): 715-718.

Rogers, Austin Flint (1938b), Lapis lazuli from San Bernardino County, California: American Mineralogist: 23: 111-114.

Laudermilk, Jerome Douglas & Alfred O. Woodford (1940), Hydrous iron sulfide in California crystalline limestone: American Mineralogist: 25: 418-424: 418.

Eaton, A. L. (1946), Pomona club collects at mineralized Cascade Canyon. The Desert Magazine, Volume 9 Number 10, August. Desert Press, Inc. El Centro, California, p. 31, 40pp.

Murdoch, Joseph & Robert W. Webb (1966), Minerals of California, Centennial Volume (1866-1966): California Division Mines & Geology Bulletin 189: 223, 240.

California Division of Mines and Geology (1990), Mines and mineral producers active in California (1988-89); California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, Special Publication 103.

Sinkankas, J. (1997), Gemstones of North America. Vol. 3. Lapis Lazuli; Tucson, Arizona: Geoscience Press Inc.; p. 226.

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Copyright © Jolyon Ralph and Ida Chau 1993-2014. Site Map. Locality, mineral & photograph data are the copyright of the individuals who submitted them. Site hosted & developed by Jolyon Ralph. Mindat.org is an online information resource dedicated to providing free mineralogical information to all. Mindat relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters. Mindat does not offer minerals for sale. If you would like to add information to improve the quality of our database, then click here to register.
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