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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

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 33° 23' 27'' North , 117° 4' 25'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 33.3908333333, -117.073611111

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 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.

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 his homeland of Germany. 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.

Around 1916, R. M. Wilke purchased the patent grant deed from Schuyler, and 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. 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. Wilke passed away in September of 1946, and ownership of the mine remained within his family.

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.

Beginning sometime in the early 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 unauthorized individuals. These rogue miners in search of gems used methods ranging from simple hand tools to actual drilling and rock-blasting. The tell-tale debris and backfilling from these illegal ventures greatly contributed to the degradation of the underground workings, continuing intermittently until the early 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 with the surviving relatives of R. M. Wilke between 1998 and 2002 by SDMC ultimately resulted in the purchase of the patent grant deed to the Tourmaline King lode.

A surface development and underground exploration program by SDMC commenced early October of 2002. The event was marked by the delivery of a new Hitachi ZX800 hydraulic excavator from Japan - to be used for roadway redevelopment and portal reconditioning required by federal and state mine safety regulations. Within 3 weeks nearly 1600 linear feet of bermed roadway was completed by the crew, providing safe vehicular access to the old upper workings by contouring along the original northeast access trail as it meanders westward across the adjacent land of the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Tourmaline Queen mine property.

Remote sensing has confirmed the Tourmaline King lode is continuous and traceable along the surface for a minimum distance of 2000 linear feet. Underground inspections by SDMC indicate that the deposit remains continuous down dip and along strike as exposed within the outer margins of the deepest workings. Small amounts of gem and specimen quality pink green and blue tourmaline [elbaite (vars. rubellite, verdelite, indicolite)], pink beryl (var. morganite), and red to orange garnet (specs. almandine, spessartine) have been collected from remaining sections of previously exploited pocket areas within the pegmatite as exposed in the old underground workings, which have since become inaccessible due to near surface caving. Observations and physical data collected by the SDMC indicate another large fault/fracture related country rock anomaly located approximately 600 linear feet south from the deepest existing underground working face.

Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities

23 valid minerals.

Localities in this Region

  • California
    • San Diego Co.

The above list 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.


Schaller, W. T. (1904), The tourmaline localities of southern California. Science 19, pages 266-268.

Sterrett, D. B. (1904), Tourmaline from San Diego County, California. American Journal of Science, Volume 17, p. 459-465.

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

Waring, G. A. (1905), The pegmatyte veins of Pala, San Diego County. American Geologist 35, pages 356-369.

Sterrett, D. B. (1907), Precious stones. Mineral Resources U.S., 1906. Department of Interior, US Geological Survey, Government Printing Office, Washington; p. 1213; pages 1239-1241.

Wheeler, H. V. (1911), Field notes of the survey of the mining claim of F. B. Schuyler, known as the Tourmaline King Lode in Sec 15, T9S, R2W, SBM. USDI, Surveyor General's Office, Mineral Survey No. 4926: 14 p., 1 plat.

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. Chapter 1, pages 61-78.

Schaller, W. T. (1916), Mineral Resources of the United States, Gems and Precious Stones, 1915, Part II. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey: p. 846; December 11th.

Schaller, W. T. (1919), Gems & Precious Stones. Mineral Resources U.S., 1916, Part II - Nonmetals. Department of Interior, US Geological Survey, Government Printing Office, Washington; pages 888-898.

Tucker, W. B., Reed, C. H. (1939), Los Angeles Field District - Mineral Resources of San Diego County. California Journal of Mines and Geology, quarterly chapter of State Mineralogist's Report 35; January: p. 38-42, Illus., maps.

Jahns, R. H. (1948), Gem deposits of southern California. Gems and Gemology 6, 1, pages 6-30.

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: 34-35, 38, 40.

Weber, F. H. (1963), Geology and mineral resources of San Diego County, California. California Division of Mines and Geology, County Report 3: 309 p., illus., maps.

Pemberton, H. Earl (1983), Minerals of California; Van Nostrand Reinholt Press: 51, 179, 186, 312, 325, 435, 498.

Bancroft, P. (1989), Gem Mining in San Diego County. Environment Southwest, San Diego Natural History Museum, Number 525, pages 14-20.

Keller, P. C. (1989), The Gems of San Diego County. Environment Southwest, San Diego Natural History Museum, Number 525, pages 11-13.

Amero, R. (1996), Panama-California Exposition, San Diego 1915-1916. Online journal of San Diego History, San Diego Historical Society.

Swoboda, E. R. (2001), "King". Unpublished manuscript. Swoboda Inc., Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, CA; 4/25, 3 pages.

Fisher, J. (2002), Gem and rare-element pegmatites of southern California. Mineralogical Record, Vol. 33: p. 381.

Wilson, W. E. (2006), Mineralogical Record Label Archive; Biography of Robert Max Wilke (1862-1946) at

Wilson, W. E. (2009), Mineralogical Record Label Archive; Biography of Frank Barlow Schuyler (1872-c1927) at

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