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Katerina Mine (Ashley mine; Caterina mine; Catherin mine; Catherina mine; Katrina mine), Hiriart Mountain (Hariat Mtn; Harriot Mtn; Heriart Mtn; Heriot Mtn; Hiriat Hill), Pala, Pala District, San Diego Co., California, USA
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Latitude: 33°22'23"N
Longitude: 117°2'33"W
 
 
"Katerina"
—Italian, meaning "pure".

Setting:
Located in the center of the S2SW4 Sec. 24 T9S R2W SBM, the mine is low on the southwest slope of Hiriart Mountain, aggregating 20.66 acres, more or less. Over 2,056 tons of material had been excavated from open pit operations at the Katerina mine, principally during the period from 1902 to 1940. Approximately 2,019 tons of rock and ore had been removed from 13 underground workings between 1902 and 1992.

The Katerina mine is located approximately 2.5 miles east of the town of Pala, in San Diego county. Access is 1.3 miles north from state highway 76, on Magee road. The west boundary (endline) of the lode mining claim is 321 feet east of Magee road. Access to the property is by a two track dirt road, ending 992 feet from the intersection with Magee road. Slopes on the claim are steep, measured by Brunton compass at approximately 24 degrees. The claim is positioned on the south slope of Hirart Mountain at an elevation varying from 820 feet at the southwest corner to 1,240 feet above sea level at the northeast corner. A steep, narrow, south flowing drainage dissects the claim across the center of the property.

History:
The deposit was discovered by Bernardo Hiriart and first located under the general mining laws by Marion M. Sickler on March 15th of 1902. Sickler reported that later that year, he and his son Frederick, discovered nodular to blade-like crystal fragments of a clear, colorless to straw-yellow and pale-lilac mineral. Several unsuccessful efforts were made to identify the mineral, until December of 1902, when they sent specimens to George Frederick Kunz, a gem expert for Tiffany and Company of New York. This newfound gem variety of liliac-colored spodumene was subsequently named in honor of Dr. Kunz, and was popularly known as "California's own gem"[1].

Not long after the date of the Katerina location, the surrounding vacant public lands were temporarily withdrawn and removed from mineral entry under the United States land and mineral laws pursuant to Secretarial Order dated January 24, 1903. This order was a temporary withdrawal pending acquisition of all private inholdings, including valid existing rights, for the benefit of the Pala Tribe, under Indian tract allotment pursuant to the Act of January 12, 1891.

In 1905, Kunz described the Katerina mine as a cut 40 feet in length and 30 feet in width, which exposed a ledge of lepidolite 2.5 feet thick, producing about 6 tons of lepidolite. Also from this cut was reported some kunzite and spodumene production, the greater part of which was considered float. Other gems found included pink beryl and a few tourmalines.

In 1906, Kunz described the main Katerina development as a large open cut which cut the "pay streak", or central part gem-bearing part of the ledge, which varied from 2 to 4 feet in thickness, and consisted of quartz, albite and lepidolite. Several pockets were reported to be found, primarily containing quartz crystals and violet-colored kunzite. Another cut some one hundred yards to the east was said to reveal similar pockets, with pink kunzite and some indicolite, together with quartz crystals, often clear and fine. One pocket from here was said to yield nearly a ton of crystallized quartz, with some individual crystals weighing up to 40 pounds.

Between 1907 and 1938, Marion Sickler reported a total approximately 538 days of work extending tunnels and open pit at the Katerina mine. On August 27th, 1938, Marion M. Sickler deeded the mine to his son Fred for 1 dollar and 'love and affection'. Between 1939 and 1946, Fred reported a total of approximately 150 days of work prospecting the ledges.

On July 28, 1947, Fred M. Sickler and his wife Florence A. Sickler sold the mine to George A. Ashley of Pala. In 1948 Ashley reported running over 68 feet of tunnels. Between 1949 and 1956, a small amount of work was accomplished, and Ashley continued filing his affidavit of annual assessment work.

Ashley sold the claim to Karl V. Morin Jr. of Vista and Jean P. Oddous on January 4th of 1957. Work began improving the road, and renewed tunneling and drifting at the Katerina throughout 1959. In 1960, a well was drilled on the property, and other sections of pegmatite were prospected for gem minerals. Again in 1964 tunneling and drifting operations at the Katerina throughout 1965. Between 1972 and 1984, additional tunneling and some open pit work was accomplished by Morin and mineral collector Al Ordway of Hesperia.

On November 1, 1990, Morin leased the Katerina mine for 5 years to Otto Komarek and Byron Weege, both of Pala. In December of 1990, Weege discovered a large pocket while working underground which contained several cathedral-style quartz crystals, many with tiny indicolite inclusions, giving the quartz a pale bluish cast. Over 125 feet of underground drift was constructed by Komarek and Weege, utilizing a small diesel wheeled loader to load and haul waste rock to the surface for dumping, combined with hand tool work while working the pocket zone. On December 21st of 1992, Morin quitclaimed an undivided 2/3rds interest in the Katerina lode mining claim to Komarek and Weege.

On December 9, 1992, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), initiated an investigation and verification of rights under the United States mining laws in order for the claimants to proceed with planned mining activities. Field examinations of the Katerina mine were conducted beginning with a preliminary examination on January 7th, 1993. In March and April of 1994, the BLM conducted surveys of the mining claim boundaries. Investigations continued in January of 1996, with detailed field examinations of the Katerina lode claim conducted by mineral examiners Robert M. Waiwood and Walter R. Todd between March and April. These examinations detailed the mineralization of the claim, and included survey and mapping of all improvements and access to them.

On March 20, 1996, two pockets were discovered underground by Karl Morin, Otto Komarek, and Byron Weege, and over 1,200 grams of kunzite and over 2,000 grams of morganite specimens were removed from the pockets. On October 30, 1996, a mineral report was completed and serialized, completing the validity examination of the Katerina Lode, which concluded that the claimants had fulfilled all obligations under the mining laws, and had a right to proceed with mineral operations, and a right of access guaranteed under the General Mining Law of May 10, 1872 (30 USC 22 et seq.).

In November of 1998, a small find of kunzite was made in the area of the dike worked by Ashley during the early 1950's. The mine area was consumed by wildfire which started near the southern claim boundary in July of 2001.

On May 5, 2003, Otto Komarek quitclaimed his one half of one third portion of the Katerina mining claim to Byron C. Weege.

On April 5, 2005, Karl Morin quitclaimed his two thirds portion of the Katerina mine claim to Byron C. Weege, giving Byron Weege ownership of the entire Katerina mining claim.

In 2007 - 2010 Byron Weege with the help of friends Stephen and Lisa Koonce and Joe Johnson minor prospecting and exploration of the Katerina mine claim was conducted with the purpose of beginning operations at the mine in the near future. During this period a few small pockets were encountered in the upper tunnels yielding both Kunzite and Morganite crystals.

In July of 2010 Byron C. Weege passed away and transfered the Katerina mining claim to his brother.

On October 1, 2012, Greg Weege quitclaimed the entire Katerina mining claim over to Joe Johnson. With the intent to once again get the Katerina mine in working condition as Byron wanted.

Currently the Katerina mining claim is again being prospected and a plan of operations has be made for beginning operations at the Katerina mine in early 2013. Joe Johnson, Stephen and Lisa Koonce and several other experienced Pala area miners are working hard to once again bring the Katerina mine back into active operation.



Footnotes:
1.Kunz received spodumene samples from Frederick M. Sickler, but no locality information was given at that time. There is, however, ample supporting evidence that the samples sent to New York were from the discovery workings of the Katerina mine.

Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities
Albite
var: Cleavelandite
Amblygonite
Bertrandite
Beryl
var: Goshenite
var: Morganite
Columbite-(Fe)
'Columbite-Tantalite'
Cookeite
Fluorapatite
Foitite ?
Helvine
Lepidolite
Lithiophilite
Microcline
Muscovite
Orthoclase
'Perthite'
Phenakite
Pseudomalachite
Pucherite
Quartz
Schorl
Spodumene
var: Kunzite
Stibiotantalite
Tantalite-(Mn)
Topaz
'Tourmaline'
Triplite
Vivianite


38 entries listed. 25 valid minerals.

Localities in this Region

USA

The above list contains all mineral locality references listed on mindat.org. This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in mindat.org without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.

References

Dana, E. S. (1892), System of Mineralogy, 6th. Edition, New York; Appendix 3 (1915), by Ford, W. E.: 22.

Kunz, G. F. (1905), Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau bulletin 37: pages 86, 129-132.

Kunz, G. F. (1906), The Production of Precious Stones in 1905. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Division of Mining and Mineral Resources. GPO, Washington: pages 26-27; 40 pp.

Wheeler, H. V. (1917), Field notes of the survey of the mining claims of Marion M. Sickler, known as the El Molino, Fargo, Hiriart, K. C. Naylor, and Vanderberg Lodes; and El Molino Mill Site; in Sec 24-25, T9S, R2W, SBM. USDI, Surveyor General's Office, Mineral Survey No. 5391A-B: 1 plat.

Jahns, R. H. and Wright, L. A. (1951), Gem and Lithium-bearing pegmatites of the Pala District, San Diego County, California. California Division of Mines special report 7A: 72 p.

Todd, W. R. & Waiwood, R. M. (1996), Mineral Report: Validity Examination of the Katerina Lode; Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior, Oct. 30; 71 p., maps/plats, photos, legal/technical data.

Fisher, J. (1999), The Katerina Mine, A Morganite And Kunzite bearing Pegmatite In The Pala District, San Diego County, California. Rocks & Minerals, May.

Moore, P. B., (2000), Analyses of Primary Phosphates from Pegmatites in Maine and Other Localities, in V. T. King (editor), Mineralogy of Maine. Mining History, Gems, and Geology, Maine Geological Survey, Augusta, Maine, p. 333-336.

Fisher, Jesse (2011), Mines and Minerals of the Southern California Pegmatite Province. Rocks & Minerals: 86: 14-34.

Mauthner, M. H. F. (2011), The History of Kunzite and the California Connection. Rocks & Minerals 86(2): 112-131.

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