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Columbia Mine (April Fool claim; Belo Horizonte claim; California Gem Mine; Columbia Gem Mine; Desert Rose claim; San Jacinto Gem Mine; Discovery), Thomas Mountain, Thomas Mountain [town], Cahuilla Mining District, Riverside Co., California, USAi
Regional Level Types
Columbia Mine (April Fool claim; Belo Horizonte claim; California Gem Mine; Columbia Gem Mine; Desert Rose claim; San Jacinto Gem Mine; Discovery)Mine
Thomas MountainMountain
Thomas Mountain [town]Town
Cahuilla Mining DistrictMining District
Riverside Co.County
CaliforniaState
USACountry

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Key
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
33° 35' 12'' North , 116° 37' 42'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
Locality type:
Nearest Settlements:
PlacePopulationDistance
Anza3,014 (2011)5.5km
Alpine Village146 (2006)14.9km
Idyllwild3,583 (2010)19.0km
Idyllwild-Pine Cove3,874 (2011)19.7km
Rancho Mirage18,083 (2017)26.2km


O Columbia! the gem of the ocean,
The home of the brave and the free,
The shrine of each patriot's devotion,
A world offers homage to thee;

—David T. Shaw & Thomas a'Beckett. Lyrics from the song "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean", (1843).

Setting:
The Columbia Mine is the oldest gem tourmaline mine in California, and is located in the SW¼SW¼ sec. 1, T7S, R3E SBM, 2.9 km (1.8 miles) S of Thomas Mountain (town), on the SE ridge of Thomas Mountain (summit), and 11.8 km (7.3 miles) ENE of Cahuilla (town). The mine workings are situated approximately 200 feet NE of Thomas Mountain Road, near the summit of the divide at an elevation of approximately 5,143 feet AMSL. MRDS database stated accuracy for this location is 100 meters.

History:
James Hamilton[1] is credited with the first recorded discovery of gem tourmaline in California. Hamilton discovered tourmaline on the southeast slope of Thomas Mountain in June of 1872. Some mining was done at this point by Hamilton, and many gem tourmaline crystals were obtained, including a fine specimen acquired by George F. Kunz prior to 1873.

In 1893 serious mining efforts were made developing the deposit. In that year, both the California Mine and San Jacinto Mine were opened along the ledges to the southwest and northeast of the Columbia Mine, and some of the finest tourmaline crystals in the world were recovered. It was reported that many "float" crystals of colored tourmaline were found along the surface, with some of the largest crystals measuring up to 9 inches long. More than a bushel of fine gems was recovered that first year, including a beautiful red and green crystal eight inches long that was purchased by Harvard University. Another fine specimen was bought by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Kunz described the deposit at that time as a pegmatite vein ranging from 40 to 50 feet wide, and trending north to south through the old crystalline rocks which make up the mountain range. The vein was described as in some places consisting of pure feldspar, or feldspar with quartz, and at other points consisting of all mica, or rose quartz and smoky quartz. The tourmalines were described as varying in size from micrograins to crystals 4 inches in diameter, occurring mostly in the feldspar, but also found in other portions of the vein, sometimes in pockets or isolated. The larger crystals were said to generally have a green exterior with red or pink centers (var. watermelon tourmaline). Some of the other crystals recovered were said to contain green, red, pink, black, and intermediate colors (var. polychrome tourmaline), while others were a uniform tint of red (var. rubellite), pink, colorless (var. achroite), or blue (var. indicolite). Kunz described the associated minerals as rose quartz, smoky quartz, asteriated quartz, and fluorite, with some quartz having penetrations of fine hair-like crystals of tourmaline similar to rutile.

The Riverside Press (January 12, 1897) reported that the tourmaline mine owned by "Messrs. Jackson and Whiting in the Tahquitz district" were recovering some valuable gems. "Two specimens just taken out measured 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches each and are valued at about $400 each, as they are very valuable for ring settings, pins, etc. The color of these stones varies from a dark green to a deep amethyst." The report continues by stating "The largest tourmaline stone ever found in the world was taken out of this mine by Mr. Chilson and placed on exhibition at the World's Fair, where it took the premium. It was afterwards sold to an Englishman for $500."

In 1905, Kunz described the Columbia mine as being owned by H. C. Gordon, P. E. Johnson, J. C. Connell, and William Dyche of San Diego. According to Kunz, work had ceased at the mine around 1899, and only the minimal required assessment work had been accomplished over the following five years. Kunz hypothesized that the gem pockets may have been exhausted, as "nothing important" had been found recently. Elaborating on his 1893 description, the deposit was detailed as ledges of pegmatite consisting of a fine granite, with both sides of the pocket material seemingly identical in character, which was said to differ from any other mine yet found in the gem districts of California.

In 1959, John Sinkankas reported that any attempts to reopen the mine had enjoyed only limited success. On August 15th, 1982, a new lode mining claim was located by Jim Sherman, named the New Columbia #1. Another lode mining claim was later located by Sherman on January 8th, 1983 - forming a contiguous group of claims, and sequentially named the New Columbia #2. On September 28th, 1993, Sherman transferred his interest in both claims to Matthew C. Taylor of Vista, California. On September 1st, 1997, Taylor, together with J. Blue Sheppard of Pala, and Lee E. Humiston of Seal Beach - located the Belo Horizonte No. 1 and Belo Horizonte No. 2 lode mining claims, adjacent and contiguous with the New Columbia #1 and New Columbia #2 lode mining claims already owned by Taylor.

Under Taylor's ownership, several large open cuts and trenches were made to expose the old workings, utilizing heavy equipment including wheeled backhoes and loaders to remove overburden and decomposed rock. Several good sized pockets containing superb gem-quality elbaite crystals have been encountered throughout the excavation process. Some of the larger tourmaline crystals recovered were considered typical of the locality, with specimens of apple green exteriors with deep red centers that rival the finest known examples of such occurrences worldwide. The modern exploration of the site has been systematically documented by Taylor throughout his ongoing geophysical and mineralogical studies of the deposit. According to Taylor, the Columbia pegmatite is atypical of the region due to a nominal amount of mica group minerals present in the elbaite-bearing pocket zone of the dike.

Mineralogy/Geology:
Local rocks include Mesozoic granitic rocks , unit 2 (Peninsular Ranges).

Development:
Workings include unspecified underground openings.

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Mineral List


3 valid minerals. 1 erroneous literature entry.

Detailed Mineral List:

Elbaite
Formula: Na(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Reference: Rocks & Min.: 63:441.
'Feldspar Group'
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
Fluorite
Formula: CaF2
Description: Most likely apatite
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Indicolite'
Formula: A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Mica Group'
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
Quartz
Formula: SiO2
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
Quartz var: Rose Quartz
Formula: SiO2
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
Quartz var: Smoky Quartz
Formula: SiO2
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
Schorl
Formula: Na(Fe2+3)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmalinated Quartz'
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmaline'
Formula: A(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmaline var: Achroite'
Formula: A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmaline var: Rubellite'
Formula: A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmaline var: Verdelite'
Formula: A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.
'Tourmaline var: Watermelon Tourmaline'
Formula: A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Reference: Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 122-123, 171 p.

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 3 - Halides
Fluorite ?3.AB.25CaF2
Group 4 - Oxides and Hydroxides
Quartz4.DA.05SiO2
var: Rose Quartz4.DA.05SiO2
var: Smoky Quartz4.DA.05SiO2
Group 9 - Silicates
Elbaite9.CK.05Na(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Schorl9.CK.05Na(Fe2+3)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Unclassified Minerals, Rocks, etc.
'Feldspar Group'-
'Indicolite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'Mica Group'-
'Tourmalinated Quartz'-
'Tourmaline'-A(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Achroite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Rubellite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Verdelite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Watermelon Tourmaline'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Group 9 - NORMAL HALIDES
AX2
Fluorite ?9.2.1.1CaF2
Group 61 - CYCLOSILICATES Six-Membered Rings
Six-Membered Rings with borate groups
Elbaite61.3.1.8Na(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Schorl61.3.1.10Na(Fe2+3)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Group 75 - TECTOSILICATES Si Tetrahedral Frameworks
Si Tetrahedral Frameworks - SiO2 with [4] coordinated Si
Quartz75.1.3.1SiO2
Unclassified Minerals, Mixtures, etc.
'Feldspar Group'-
'Indicolite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'Mica Group'-
Quartz
var: Rose Quartz
-SiO2
var: Smoky Quartz-SiO2
'Tourmalinated Quartz'-
'Tourmaline'-A(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Achroite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Rubellite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Verdelite'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
'var: Watermelon Tourmaline'-A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z

List of minerals for each chemical element

HHydrogen
H ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
H SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
LiLithium
Li ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
BBoron
B ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
B TourmalineA(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B Tourmaline (var: Watermelon Tourmaline)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B Tourmaline (var: Rubellite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B Tourmaline (var: Achroite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B IndicoliteA(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B Tourmaline (var: Verdelite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
B SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
OOxygen
O ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
O TourmalineA(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O QuartzSiO2
O Quartz (var: Rose Quartz)SiO2
O Quartz (var: Smoky Quartz)SiO2
O Tourmaline (var: Watermelon Tourmaline)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O Tourmaline (var: Rubellite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O Tourmaline (var: Achroite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O IndicoliteA(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O Tourmaline (var: Verdelite)A(D3)G6(T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
O SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
FFluorine
F FluoriteCaF2
NaSodium
Na ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Na SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
AlAluminium
Al ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Al SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
SiSilicon
Si ElbaiteNa(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Si TourmalineA(D3)G6(Si6O18)(BO3)3X3Z
Si QuartzSiO2
Si Quartz (var: Rose Quartz)SiO2
Si Quartz (var: Smoky Quartz)SiO2
Si SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
CaCalcium
Ca FluoriteCaF2
FeIron
Fe SchorlNa(Fe32+)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)

References

Sort by

Year (asc) Year (desc) Author (A-Z) Author (Z-A)
Kunz, George Frederick (1904), Precious stones: Mineral Resources U.S., 1903: 968.
Kunz, G. F. (1905), Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 37: p. 21, 63, 122-123, 171 p.
Ware, J. W. (1935), Gem Mining In San Diego County, California. Gems & Gemology, Vol. I, No. 8, March-April, 240pp. The American Gem Society, Los Angeles, California.
Murdoch, J. and Webb, R. W. (1948), Minerals of California. California Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mines, Bulletin 136: p. 301; 402 pp.
Weight, H. O. (1953), Fabulous Jewels. Calico Print, Vol. IX, No. 4, July, 40pp. The Calico Press, Twentynine Palms, CA.
Sinkankas, J. (1959), Gemstones of North America. Vol. 1. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 675 p.
Murdoch, Joseph & Webb, Robert W. (1966), Minerals of California, Centennial Volume (1866-1966): California Division Mines & Geology Bulletin 189: 371.
Evans, James R. and Matthews, R. A. (1967), California minerals – Tourmaline. California Division Mines and Geology Mineral Information Service: 20: 143.
Saul, R. B., Evans, J. R., and Gray, C. H. (1970), Mines and mineral resources of Riverside County. California Division of Mines and Geology County Report 9. Unpublished manuscript: 246-249.
Pemberton, H. Earl (1983), Minerals of California; Van Nostrand Reinholt Press: 348, 503.
Gunther, J.D. (1984), Riverside County, California, Place Names: Their Origins and Stories. Riverside: Rubidoux Printing Company.
Gochenour, K. (1988), Black Tourmaline from Little Cahuilla Mountain, Riverside County, California. Rocks and Minerals, 63 (6): p. 440-444.
Taylor, M. C. and Foord, E. E. (1993), Clay Minerals associated with miarolitic rare-element pegmatites of the Peninsular-Ranges Batholith, Southern California. Clay Mineral Society 30th Annual Meeting Field Trip Guidebook.
Wise, M. A. and Taylor, M. (1994), Geochemical Evolution and Petrogenesis of Granitic Pegmatites of Southern California: unpublished manuscript, 10 pp.
Taylor, M. C. (1997), Personal communication with S. L. Ritchie regarding the Columbia mine history; Nov.
Taylor, M. C. (1999), Personal communication with S. L. Ritchie regarding the Columbia mine history; Jan.
Fisher, J. (2002), Gem and rare-element pegmatites of southern California. Mineralogical Record 33(5): 363-407.
USGS (2005), Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS): U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, loc. file ID #10115556.
U.S. Bureau of Mines Minerals Availability System/Mineral Industry Location System (MAS/MILS): file #0060650096.

USGS MRDS Record:10115556

Other Regions, Features and Areas containg this locality

North America
Pacific PlateTectonic Plate

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