Tourmaline King Mine (Gem claim; King mine; MS 4500; MS 4926; Schuyler mine; Wilke mine), Tourmaline Queen Mountain (Pala Mtn; Queen Mtn), Pala, Pala District, San Diego Co., California, USA
|Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):||33° 23' 26'' North , 117° 4' 24'' West|
|Latitude & Longitude (decimal):||33.39083,-117.07361|
|Köppen climate type:||Csa : Hot-summer Mediterranean climate|
Kings are like stars,—they rise and set, they have
The worship of the world, but no repose.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), Hellas, Line 195
The Tourmaline King is a gemstone mine located in the SE4 Sec. 15, T9S, R2W, SBM. The mine development workings are situated at an elevation of 1600 feet, and extend laterally along the steep northern slope of the Tourmaline Queen Mountain following a gem-and-rare earth element (REE)-bearing pegmatite deposit. The property is a patented lode mining claim totaling 13.47 acres of private land within the current boundaries of the Pala Indian Reservation.
In March of 1903, Frank B. Schuyler and D. G. Harrington of Oceanside hiked to the top of the brush-covered mountain just 1.5 miles north of the Pala Mission, prospecting for quartz and tourmaline crystals. Schuyler and Harrington began their search along a pegmatite ledge exposed running down the northernmost slope of the mountain. About 300 yards down from the summit, at an elevation of approximately 1640 feet - the duo came upon a rich tourmaline bearing pocket zone exposed along a broken section of relatively flat-lying coarse pegmatite weathering out along the surface.
In 1904, Waldemar T. Schaller of the United States Geological Survey visited the Tourmaline King and described the work by Schuyler and Harrington at the point of discovery for the lode claim staked by them on March 7th of that year. The primary development was a cut 12 feet wide, which had barely scalped off the top layer of weathered coarse gray diorite, exposing a stratum of coarse broken feldspar and lepidolite mica averaging 15 inches in thickness. Within this stratum was recovered about 10 pounds of pink tourmaline, occurring as gem pencils - disseminated throughout the altered mass of decomposed feldspar or kaolin, containing lepidolite coated albite as well as quartz crystals and spessartine/almandine garnets.
Soon after Schaller’s visit, Schuyler began constructing an underground drift into the pegmatite immediately below the point of the surface discovery. Other important improvements to the property were constructed which included a blacksmith shop measuring 12 x 10 feet, and a house measuring 18 x 16 feet. Both wood frame buildings were covered with corrugated iron. The west part of the house was used as a mess room, and the east part was used for the engine and air compressor, and as a store room.
A couple of years later and no more than 60 feet underground, a huge tourmaline crystal-filled pocket was discovered, locally referred to as a “walk-in pocket” - which upon excavation extended nearly 30 feet in length, averaging 10 feet in width, and continuous for up to 30 feet down dip. It was said that this single pocket zone when thoroughly exhausted, produced nearly 8 tons of pink tourmaline, consisting of many exceptionally large and deeply colored crystals - most of which were quickly consumed by the Imperial Chinese government for a then outstanding price of $187.50 per pound. A miner from the nearby Tourmaline Queen lode recalled a shipment being packed out by Schuyler on mules which carried 16 powder boxes full of large pink tourmaline crystals.
In 1907, D. B. Sterrett of the US Geological Survey described development work at the Tourmaline King mine in 1906 as being "pushed energetically for a part of the year". Sterrett described the mine producing "tourmaline of great beauty and large size", together with "some beryl and "water sapphire." Sterrett also describes litigation with a neighboring claim (Ed Fletcher Jr. lode mining claim), which had caused work to cease around the middle of the year. On June 11th, 1907, a judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiff Ed Fletcher of San Diego, against the defendants, by the Superior Court of San Diego County. An appeal to the Supreme Court of California was filed by the defendants on June 14th, 1907.
On December 30th of 1908, an agreement was made between the defendants, F. B. Schuyler, H. E. Harrington, and plaintiff, Ed Fletcher to resolve the dispute over the location of the southern boundary of the Tourmaline King claim, and the northern boundary of the Ed Fletcher Jr. claim, which was litigated in San Diego County Superior Court resulting in a judgment in favor of Ed Fletcher. However, arbitration between both parties resulted in a compromise north line for the Ed Fletcher Jr. claim to settle all controversies between themselves such as minerals removed by either party, resurveying both parties disputed claim boundaries, and dismissing an appeal of the court's decision and the original patent application for the Tourmaline King lode claim.
On June 16th, 1909, continued arbitration resulted in a second, final agreement between both parties, as stipulated by the Superior Court of San Diego County, waiving all claims of money judgments by the plaintiff against the defendants, and dismissing all appeal proceedings by the defendants, and satisfying the judgment of record. Not only did the agreement solidify the establishment of a compromise line and define the apex of the ledge, but it also granted rights for the construction of tunnels and dumping of waste-rock relating to the compromise line on the Tourmaline King mine; allowed for ingress and egress for men and materials for both parties across each others claims, specified the right of the Tourmaline King owners to establish and maintain a camp by tents or temporary buildings at any place or places on the Ed Fletcher Jr. claim, and mandated that both parties would not interfere each others mine workings, extending forever these rights to their heirs and assigns.
Around late 1909, local pioneer mineral and gem dealer - Albert Everett, heard that the mine owners were in a big pocket of fine pink tourmaline. Everett quickly traveled the 22 miles from Escondido to the base of the mountain on his buckboard carriage. A steep hike up the southern slope brought him to the mine buildings perched high on the northwest side just below the summit, where the miners had displayed some contents of the huge pocket upon a rough wood plank work table measuring about 3 by 8 feet. Everett described the table as “completely covered from end to end with big thick pink tourmalines, stacked like canned goods, side by side”, the largest flat terminated pocket crystal measuring about 4 by 8 inches long. Although Everett had first choice of purchase that day, regrettably he had only been able to bring with him a mere $28.00 - though he still left the mine with a nice selection of small pink crystals and a vivid tale of the gem bonanza.
Not long after Everett’s visit to the mine, Robert M. Wilke of Palo Alto arrived at the property. An ardent gemstone collector, mineralogist and mining engineer - Wilke made special efforts to visit the active gem mines and granite quarries at every opportunity in search of materials for his collection. Impressed with the quantity and quality of the tourmalines discovered by Schuyler - he purchased some of the largest tourmalines found on matrix for display in both his personal collection, and major museums in the United States and Europe. These specimens were carefully repaired by Wilke, who was known for several years throughout San Diego County as a reputable dealer in large and unique gemstone matrix specimens.
On December 12th of 1910, F. B. Schuyler relocated the Tourmaline King lode claim, at which time the claim boundaries were adjusted to include the remaining 100 feet of pegmatite exposure and ground formerly claimed as the "Gem" lode, which was abandoned by its locators, Mrs. F. B. Schuyler and Mrs. H. E. Harrington.
At the request of Schuyler, on February 15th of 1911, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Surveyor General for California - issued instructions to the Los Angeles Land District, to perform Mineral Survey No. 4926 of the Tourmaline King lode claim. Work commenced February 21st, 1911, being executed by Henry V. Wheeler, a licensed United States Mineral Surveyor, together with the assistance of Henry A. Murillo and Joseph Romero - both whom acted in the capacity of Chainman. According to instructions received from the U.S. Deputy San Francisco, California, Wheeler proceeded to mark the corners and survey the boundaries of the Tourmaline King Lode. This survey also described the physical improvements to the claim, which consisted of 3 tunnels totaling 324 linear feet, subsequently valued at $3250. The mineral survey was completed on February 23rd, and certified by Wheeler on March 30th, 1911. The U.S. Surveyor General for California, E. H. Archer, approved Wheeler's survey on November 21st, 1911. Finally, on July 21, 1913, fee title was granted to Schuyler for the Tourmaline King Lode by President Woodrow Wilson, and recorded as patent number 347761.
In 1914, California State Geologist Frederick Merrill reported that at the time of his visit to the Pala area, none of the gem mines were in operation. He stated that this was primarily due to the lack of demand by Chinese merchants for medium quality pink tourmaline, caused by the death of the Dowager Empress of China, and subsequent outbreak of revolution. However, Merrill also reported a strong demand for fine tourmaline specimens used in mineralogical collections and museums worldwide, and for gem quality rough stones, which were sold to local lapidaries and jewelers for consumption in the tourist trade, or sent to the New York marketplace.
In 1915, Waldemar Schaller of the US Geological Survey reported that several more-or-less transparent pink beryl crystals were found. Also that year, the Panama Pacific International Exposition or World's Fair was held in San Francisco, California. The exposition was a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal, and commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovering of the Pacific Ocean by the explorer, Balboa. The Palace of Mines (former Washington State building) opened with exhibits from mines in Southern California, Utah, New Mexico and Montana. Schuyler exhibited tourmaline gems and specimens obtained from his earlier mining operations - the motto for this marketing campaign being "Wear a tourmaline for luck." During "Mining Week", which was held September 20-25th, the souvenir program described a "mysterious visitor", which would appear at 1:00 pm near the Tourmaline King Mine exhibit in order to hand out raffle tickets, where upon every fiftieth Mysterious Man ticket was a free pass to enter the simulated gem mine tunnel, adjacent to the display featuring minerals and jewelry for sale. Overall, approximately nineteen million people attended the event, which was considered a great success.
On May 6th of 1919, R. M. Wilke contracted to purchase the patent grant deed from F. B. Schuyler and H. E. Harrington for the sum of $4750. Placing the contract in escrow with the Berkely Bank of Savings and Trust, Wilke began a second round of intensive surface and underground development, continuing with Schuyler's process of using compressed air for rock drilling, dynamite for rock blasting, and rail with push carts for waste-rock removal. Work began extending underground workings down-dip 140 feet from the point of the original surface discovery, which in the process Wilke was reported to have encountered some additional zones of lithium enrichment containing numerous small gem-bearing pockets.
By 1920, underground development at the Tourmaline King totaled over 1200 feet of tunnel. These workings consisted of interconnected drifts, inclines, and irregular rooms. When work by Wilke and his crew exactly ceased is unknown, though it likely occurred sometime around 1922; when records of tourmaline production suggests final closure of the last formal gem tourmaline mining operation in Pala, reported to be at the Tourmaline King mine. In July of 1925, California State Mineralogist Lloyd L. Root reported that Wilke’s operations had produced considerable amounts of lepidolite, morganite, tourmaline and kunzite.
On March 5th, 1938, R. M Wilke and his wife Elizabeth Wilke, signed a quit claim deed to Ralph W. Buchanan of Shaker Heights, Ohio, conveying ownership of the Tourmaline King mine to their son-in-law. In January of 1939, California Division of Mines, Los Angeles Field District Mining Engineer W. B. Tucker; together with San Diego County Bureau of Mines, Mining Engineer Charles H. Reed - reported the mine to be idle. On August 4th, 1943 R. B. Buchanan transferred title of the mineral estate to his wife Elizabeth Wilke Buchanan. On August 23rd, Buchanan inquired with the California State Bureau of Mines about the disposing feldspar from the deposit on a royalty basis. Robert Max Wilke passed away in September 16th of 1946.
Richard H. Jahns began an intermittent study of the Pala district during the period of July 1946 through March of 1948. A total of 29 weeks were devoted to field work by Jahns, who was joined for 10 weeks by Lauren A. Wright. Jahns and Wright, together with the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Division of Mines, compiled what is considered the foremost report on gem-bearing pegmatites in the region - which was published by the Division of Mines as Special Report 7A in June of 1951 - and entitled the “Gem and Lithium Bearing Pegmatites of the Pala District”.
In August of 1947, and again in May of 1948, Jahns mapped the surface workings and geology of the Tourmaline King mine - which was still owned by Wilke's heirs. Investigations by Jahns were aided by Waldemar T. Schaller of the U.S. Geological Survey, whom provided Jahns with maps and descriptions of the Tourmaline King mine which were prepared during his field investigations of the district when the mine was in the early stages of development by Schuyler.
Jahns described the physical form and character of the deposit in great detail, stating that the pegmatite had been developed by several small, irregular cuts for 450 feet along the trace of the northwest trending dike down the steep northwestern slope of Tourmaline Queen (Pala) Mountain. Jahns also described the pegmatite and associated septa-like stringers as ranging in thickness from a knife edge to about 16 feet, with the surface workings exposing the primary gem-bearing dike which appeared to average 8 feet or slightly less. This main dike was described as ranging in dip from 25 to 40 degrees west, averaging 32 degrees - and marked by many rolls, most of which had amplitudes of 2 to 5 feet. These rolls were primarily represented by mere changes in dip, generally flattening between 5 and 10 degrees.
Jahns noted that in most of the underground mine workings the country rock was gabbro, although in the lower workings there was thinly foliated feldspathic quartzite and light-gray quartz-mica schist exposed. It was also noted that the dike appeared to cut across a major contact between gabbro on the southeast and quartzite with small sill-like masses of gabbro on the northwest. The contact was described as trending northeast in the immediate vicinity of the mine, although becoming much more complex to the south - marked by septa of gabbro that appeared to extend southward and westward into the quartzite.
In most places the foliation and bedding in the metamorphic rocks was described as trending east-northeast to northeast and dipping steeply north-northwest to northwest. The dike exposure inspected by Jahns consisted chiefly of coarse-grained graphic granite with subordinate albite and muscovite. The upper units near the hanging wall containing abundant wine-red to salmon colored euhedral garnet crystals occurring up to 2 inches in diameter, locally constituting 15 percent of the rock.
Exposure of the footwall along the surface workings was described as relatively fine-grained, sugary, albite-rich pegmatite with crudely developed planar structure. He further stated that the central or inner unit which was the pocket-bearing part of the dike appeared very discontinuous and poorly defined - characterized by irregular concentrations of coarse and fine-grained lepidolite, coarse schorl, opaque pink tourmaline, coarse cleavelandite, and lenticular masses of quartz-euhedral perthite pegmatite.
Jahns concluded that Schuyler and Harrington had encountered a local flattening of the dike in which the central unit had been exposed as a result of weathering. It was this zone which yielded the bulk of gem tourmaline produced prior to Wilke’s ownership. Thus, with little production records available from Wilke - Jahns was only able to speculate on the amount of material produced, influenced in part by inspection of the available exposures within the extensive underground workings which remained accessible at that time. Uncharacteristic of the report, especially considering the scope of the existing development - a geologic map of the accessible underground workings was not included in the final draft. Ultimately, the report directly encouraged many local miners to exploit the mine workings as Jahns had noted that gem tourmaline was still easily produced.
In 1949, the original pack trails from the south in Pala, and to the east from Trujillo Creek were still in use to access the mine. A new trail from the northern portion of Magee Ranch was created, traversing towards the south as another route of access to the mine. Additionally, a Road from Pala heading north along the base of the mountain to the Basque camp at Salmons City was constructed. Throughout the 1950's, substantial portions of the upper underground inclines, and to a lesser extent the workings further down dip, were subjected to pegmatite support pillar removal or “high-grading” by numerous individuals. Mining methods ranging ranging from simple hand tools to pneumatic drilling and rock-blasting were steadily employed. In 1959, Richard H. Jahns again worked the mine briefly, reportedly producing several fine tourmaline and beryl specimens from the pockets along the walls of the old upper underground workings.
Between 1959 and 1963, Carl Larson of Fallbrook, and his son William F. Larson, made continuous weekend trips to the Tourmaline King mine, screening the old mine dumps for morganite, and colored tourmaline, especially after the rains. Together, they also worked some gem pockets underground, producing some fine tourmaline crystals, of which the finest materials recovered were still in the private collection of W. F. Larson as of 2017.
By 1968, a foot trail had been extended easterly from the original Tourmaline King mine pack trail, running north towards the top of the mountain, and east over to the south end of the Tourmaline Queen mine property. Additionally, the northern road from the Magee Ranch was extended southeast to the northwest edge of Trujillo Creek. On October 12th, 1970, Elizabeth Wilke Buchanan transferred ownership of the mine to her daughters with a Gift Deed to Barbara Buchanan Garber, and Elizabeth Buchanan Luthy of Palo Alto.
In 1971, Bill Magee of Pala, created a new roadway from the Stewart mine to the south, northwards to the top of the mountain for Pala Properties International, who were working at the adjacent Tourmaline Queen mine. At this time, Magee together with George A. Ashley, also of Pala, used the new road to continue underground work at the Tourmaline King mine, including drilling and blasting. One pocket encountered was so large in dimensions that they could easily sit inside of it while extracting red-tipped green tourmaline crystals from the walls. This pocket was later dubbed the 'Glory Hole' by Ashley.
By 1973, the large blue-capped pink tourmaline find at the adjacent Tourmaline Queen mine only a year earlier had spurred even greater numbers of individuals into continuing work at the Tourmaline King mine. By 1974, Magee and Ashley had partnered with Roland Reed of El Cajon, continuing the drilling and blasting activities underground and reportedly discovering many significant colored tourmaline crystals throughout the process. Dr. Richard Jahns, then Dean of Earth Sciences for Stanford University, also visited the mine with E. E. Foord, D. H. Hamilton and P. E. Long that same year. By the end of June, James L. Bowersox of Poway was also busy working portions of the underground mine on the weekends, primarily in backfilled areas of the older workings that had been skipped over by Ashley and Reed, producing several pounds of exceptionally fine small pink tourmaline crystals over 27 years.
Between 1981 and 1983, Byron Weege of Pala hit a down-dip extension of an old pocket that produced many fine pink tourmaline crystals up to 3.5 inches long. Reed, together with Michael Lopez, James Brown, and Helmuth Rohrl, extended the roadway from the top of the mountain to the northern slope of the Tourmaline King mine, allowing modern equipment including a new compressor and drill to be utilized, while exploiting the upper workings to a much greater degree than their previous work, and produced many exceptional tourmaline specimens as a result. The extensive work was noted on November 2nd by Richard L. Garber upon a trip to the mine for the purpose of inspecting the property on behalf of his family. By 1985, the difficult Trujillo Creek crossing along the northern road from Magee Ranch had been completed by Oscar Nukka of Oceanside.
Between 1987 and 1992, Christopher Wentzell of Claremont, together with his partners Jeff D. and Paul S., extensively explored the mine, building several makeshift structures to protect the underground workings from runoff and erosion brought about as a result of the new cuts and roads created by Reed. Over the years Wentzell hit many nice pockets, and produced serveral pounds of fine pink tourmaline crystals, while documenting the historical workings on the surface and underground.
The tell-tale debris and backfilling from numerous mining ventures greatly contributed to the degradation of the underground workings, continuing up until the late 1990's. Some hobbyists went as far as to construct large shakers and screening devices which were packed in and assembled on site - used to recover valuable tourmaline crystals buried within the dumps. Sadly, vandals eventually destroyed the old structures and early mining equipment.
The San Diego Mining Company (SDMC) began a program of surface reconnaissance and detailed underground mapping of the old Tourmaline King mine workings in 1998. Work occurred intermittently throughout the months of October, November and December, with considerable time being spent defining the areas of greatest historic yield. Persistent screening of the brush-covered mine dumps continued well into the 21st Century. One individual accounted his 20 year career of occasional weekend trips - recovering nearly 20 kilograms of fine commercial-grade tourmaline crystals suitable for faceting clean and colorful gems in calibrated sizes. As a result of other interviews and admissions, it is estimated that "weekenders" removed well over 100 kilograms of tourmaline crystals and segments from the property in this manner. Negotiations between Scott Lothair Ritchie and Richard L. Garber to acquire the mine were ongoing up until January of 2002. These negotiations ultimately resulted in the sale of the patent grant deed to the Tourmaline King lode by Elizabeth B. Luthy and Barbara B. Garber, to Gary Dean Martin and his wife Sheila Geist Martin of San Clemente.
A surface development and underground exploration program by SDMC commenced early October of 2002, after a thorough land survey was completed and prepared for filing with the County of San Diego. This survey accurately defined and documented in detail the existing roadways and property boundaries for the patented lands. Remote sensing performed during survey work confirmed that the Tourmaline The pegmatite vein averages 15 feet in thickness, and is traceable along the northern surface strike for a distance of over 2000 feet, and to a depth of 600 feet along a western dip. The vein is continuous underground at the deepest penetration of all historic workings. The deposit can be exploited to a maximum depth of nearly 1600 linear feet along strike and 400 feet up dip, for an estimated volume of 9.6 million cubic feet of vein which can eventually be explored. It was also determined that a maximum of 6.4 million cubic feet of pegmatite could be safely mined based on available surface relief and property constraints.
It was also determined that the gem-bearing zones of pegmatite mineralization (paystreaks) are much smaller in volume, averaging 75 feet along strike and 200 feet along dip, or about 225,000 cubic feet of paystreak based on observed local and regional geologic structures and historic records. Observations and physical data collected by the owners indicated two large fault/fracture related country rock structural anomalies associated with favorable geochemical trends located approximately 300 and 600 linear feet south from the deepest existing underground working face that extends about 160 feet back southward from the surface.
The delivery of a new Hitachi ZX800BE hydraulic excavator from Japan was used for roadway redevelopment and portal reconditioning required by federal and state mine safety regulations. Within the first three weeks nearly 1600 linear feet of bermed roadway was completed, providing safe vehicular access for emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement response to the old upper workings by contouring along the original northeast access pack trail as it meanders westward across the adjacent land of the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Tourmaline Queen mine property.
Redevelopment work progressed slowly from 2003 up until June of 2017, integrating modern drainage design elements to control surface water runoff from the existing roadcuts on the adjacent Ed Fletcher Jr. mine, while preparing the upper and lower adits for modern, mechanized underground mining operations at depth, providing forced air ventilation, and a secondary escapeway. During this period, several hundred pounds of gem and specimen quality pink, green and blue tourmaline, pink and colorless beryl, and red to orange garnets were produced from areas adjacent to previously exploited pockets within the pegmatite exposed in the old underground workings, and by diligently screening the old mine dumps.
Although much of the old workings had become inaccessible due to near surface caving by 2017, new workings are underway to intersect the old drifts and raises, and cleanup the debris and backfill from nearly 80 years of ongoing mining in the historic original workings. The lowest existing underground adit is expected to intersect both of these anomalies and will allow for the exploitation of a projected 450,000 cubic feet of paystreak with the potential to produce 18,000 pounds of gem and specimen quality tourmaline crystals.
Mineral ListMineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities
23 valid minerals.
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 Macrostrat.org
|Cretaceous - Triassic|
66 - 252.17 Ma
|Mesozoic gabbroic rocks, unit 2 (undivided)|
Age: Mesozoic (66 - 252.17 Ma)
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. 
66 - 145 Ma
Age: Cretaceous (66 - 145 Ma)
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. 
Localities in this Region
- San Diego Co.
- Pala District
- Tourmaline Queen Mountain (Pala Mtn; Queen Mtn)
- Tourmaline King Mine (Gem claim; King mine; MS 4500; MS 4926; Schuyler mine; Wilke mine)
- Tourmaline Queen Mountain (Pala Mtn; Queen Mtn)
- Pala District
- San Diego Co.