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Alvarado mine (Alvarado prospect), Stewart Mine (MS 6162; Stewart Lithia mine), Tourmaline Queen Mountain (Pala Mtn; Queen Mtn), Pala, Pala District, San Diego Co., California, USA

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 33° 22' 50'' North , 117° 3' 45'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 33.38056,-117.06250

Located in the S2S2SW4NW4 Sec. 23 T9S R2W SBM, the Alvarado (prospect or mine) is at the south end of Tourmaline Queen Mountain, approximately 2/3 mile northeast of Pala. The workings are in the south end of the Stewart pegmatite dike which strikes northward, dips about 22 degrees west, and outcrops for several thousand feet along the east slope of the mountain. The workings consist of several shallow open cuts developed between 1872 and 1885. The Alvarado is located within the patented Stewart mine property boundaries.

According to prospector and miner Frederick M. Sickler of Pala, the deposit was first discovered by a Spanish-Indian cowboy named Valenzuela sometime around 1872. Valenzuela was reported to have been hunting deer near the spot and upon discovery, broke off some pieces of the pink rubellite in its matrix of pearl-colored lepidolite, and brought them to down to Pala to display as samples. Around that time, old time prospector and local rancher Henry Magee, was reported to have seen a sample of the rock, and decided to investigate the nearby ledge where it was said to have been found.

Subsequently, the pegmatite deposit was first officially claimed under the General Mining Act of 1872 by Magee, apparently mistaking the pink tourmaline prisms embedded in the lepidolite mass for cinnabar crystals. Unable to extract mercury from the crystals, Magee attempted to have the mineral properly analyzed by several chemists back east. Without conclusive test results, Magee's "quicksilver" claim was eventually allowed to lapse. Not long after, Magee's small workings were expanded by Tomas Alvarado, owner of the adjacent Spanish Rancho Monserate. Alvarado was reported to have claimed 40 acres around 1878 under the Timber and Stone Act, and worked the deposit briefly for decorative mineral specimens, considering the lepidolite with rubellite to be a peculiar marble.

On February 24, 1885, the San Diego Union reported that Alvarado was selling his marble mine near Pala to eastern men. Several years later, longtime prospector and miner Frederick M. Sickler of Pala reported that a German chemist from New Jersey, Lungwitz, had determined that Alvarado's "marble" was lithia ore. The main part of the deposit was thought to be on Alvarado's 40 acres, but survey errors had placed his land too far south. When Lungwitz had Fred's father (Marion M. Sickler) survey the line, it was found that only a corner of the mine was on the 40 acre parcel (westernmost of Alvarado's 160 acre group association purchase in the S2 of Section 23).

By 1888, Sickler had sent word of the situation to Lungwitz, but soon afterwards local store owner Frank A. Salmons, filed a quartz (lode) mining claim to the main portion of the deposit, just north of Alvarado's land. Salmons subsequently sold his claim to the American Lithia & Chemical Company of New York, and would go on to locate and develop the nearby Tourmaline Queen and Pala Chief Mines, later forming the Pala Chief Gem Mining Company.

From 1892 onwards, the Alvarado mine would become known as the Stewart mine (MS 6162). American Lithia & Chemical Company first mined the deposit for lithium ore between 1892 and 1907. Mining operations resumed around 1914, and the deposit was worked extensively by the company until 1924. Around 1925 the deposit was leased to the National Industrial Chemical Corporation of New York, whom operated the mine until 1928.

Ironically, Pala resident and teacher Salvadora Griffith married Valenzuela. Salvadora was employed for a while in the Los Angeles area, where she saved enough money to build her own home. Capitalizing on the lithium and gemstone rush started by her husband's discovery, she built her house in Pala with several extra rooms which were rented out to the many prospectors in the area during the early 1900's.

Mindat Articles

Biography of Don Tomás Alvarado 1890 by Scott L. Ritchie

Mineral List

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on

Holocene - Pliocene
0 - 5.333 Ma
Quaternary alluvium and marine deposits

Age: Cenozoic (0 - 5.333 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Temescal Formation; Modesto Formation; Victor Formation; Alameda Formation; Aromas Red Sands; Bautista Beds; Brawley Formation; Borrego Formation; Burnt Canyon Breccia; Cabezon Fanglomerate; Campus Formation; Casitas Formation; Chemehuevi Formation; Corcoran Clay; Cushenbury Springs Formation; Dos Picachos Gravels; Dripping Springs Formation; Frazier Mountain Formation; Friant Formation; Harold Formation; Heights Fanglomerate; Hookton Formation (part); Huichica Formation; La Habra Formation; Manix Lake Beds; Mohawk Lake Beds; Montezuma Formation; Nadeau Gravel; Ocotillo Conglomerate; Orcutt Formation; Pacoima Formation; Pauba Formation; Peckham Formation; Pinto Formation; Resting Springs Formation; Riverbank Formation; Rohnerville Formation; San Dimas Formation; Shoemaker Gravel; Temecula Arkose; Battery Formation; Bay Point Formation; Colma Formation; Lindavista Formation; Lomita Marl; Merritt Sand; Millerton Formation; Palos Verdes Sand; San Pedro Formation; Sweitzer Formation; Timms Point Silt

Description: Alluvium, lake, playa, and terrace deposits; unconsolidated and semi-consolidated. Mostly nonmarine, but includes marine deposits near the coast.

Lithology: Major:{coarse alluvium}, Minor:{fine alluvium}

Reference: Horton, J.D., C.A. San Juan, and D.B. Stoeser. The State Geologic Map Compilation (SGMC) geodatabase of the conterminous United States. doi: 10.3133/ds1052. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1052. [133]

66 - 145 Ma
Granite pegmatite dike

Age: Cretaceous (66 - 145 Ma)

Description: Tabular, pegmatitic-textured granitic dikes. Most dikes range in thickness from a few centimeters to over a meter. Larger dikes are typically zoned compositionally and texturally.

Reference: Kennedy, M.P., and S.S. Tan. digital prep. by Bovard et al. Geologic Map of the Oceanside 30’ x 60’ Quadrangle, California. California Department of Conservation California Geological Survey. [131]

Data and map coding provided by, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on 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 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.


Castle, F. A. and Rice, C. (1888), The Manufacture of Lithium Salts for Medicinal or Technical Purposes. American Druggist, Vol. XVII, No. 4. William Wood & Company Publishers, NY: April.

Kunz, G. F. (1905), Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau bulletin 37: p. 124.

Merrill, F. J. H. (1914), Geology and Mineral Resources of San Diego and Imperial Counties: Gems, Lithia Minerals. California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, Cal. California State Printing Office, December. Chapter 1, p. 67.

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: p. 7.

Weight, H. O. (1953), The Fabulous Jewels of Old Pala and the Mesa Grande. Calico Print, Vol. IX, No. 4. The Calico Press, Twentynine Palms, California, July, 40 pp.

Weber, F. H. (1963), Geology and mineral resources of San Diego County, California. California Division of Mines and Geology, County Report 3: p. 98.

Yamaguchi, E. (1998), Writings on Fallbrook History: Agriculture & Natural History; Mining Notes from Newspapers, 2. SDU 2, 24, 1885, 3:4. Fallbrook Historical Society.

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