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Newletter Archive > November 2012 - Idaho's Star Garnet and Metal Detecting Research Ideas

November 2012 - Idaho's Star Garnet and Metal Detecting Research Ideas

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Featured Gemstone: Star Garnet

Idaho is nicknamed "The Gem State" and for good reason. The mountains of Idaho contain an array of precious metals including veins of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, copper, as well as a number of rare gems like jasper, opal, jade, topaz, zircon, tourmaline, and my favorite, the star garnet.

Star garnets are so rare that thus far they have only been found in two places in the world; Idaho and India. Idaho is so proud of their star garnet deposits that they named star garnet the state gemstone in 1967.

Star Garnet is one of the rarer gems that exhibits asterism, or the star effect.The star effect is caused by inclusions of rutile. In order to display the star effect the rutile needles must have the right alignment to reflect light in a pattern forming a multi-ray star.

The star effect in most star garnets is subtle and requires good lighting to see clearly. The best lighting to see that start effect is bright sunlight in the middle of the day where the sun is directly overhead. Most star garnets display a 4-ray star, 6-ray stars are extremley rare.

Research Ideas for Metal Detecting Leads

I am not a metal detecting whiz with a storeroom of fantastic treasures, nor am I an encyclopedia of treasure legends, but what I am good at is research, and today I'm going to share some ideas for coming up with new leads for potential metal detecting sites. Some of these may not be new to you, and some are specific to Oregon, but if nothing else this article should at least help get your brain working on new ideas in research.

The nearest University library is an obvious place to look. Archives of old newspapers on microfilm and/or microfiche, histories, etc can be good sources, but some libraries also keep Sanborn Fire Maps of local towns. Sanborn was an insurance company that made extremely detailed maps of towns, down to locations of wood sheds and outhouses. A Sanborn map and Google Earth may be all you need to locate the site of an old saloon, assay office or privy pit.

Another source I absolutely love are the Southern Oregon Digital Archives made available through Southern Oregon University ( SODA is an online searchable archive of old diaries, letters, speeches, interviews and so on. Some of the more interesting things found in the archives are a series of oral histories of people alive in the late 1800s and early 1900s transcribed from interviews done in the 1970s. These histories are firsthand accounts of everything from when and where the circus came to town, to when the flood washed out the schoolhouse to when so and so shot so and so. SODA is full of some fascinating stuff, but also a wealth of potential leads. Does a university in your state have something similar?

Another place to drop by is City Hall. Smaller towns often have town histories available. I picked one up in Halsey, the town we used to live in. They photocopied every page for me for six dollars and in it I found fascinating references to the original location of what is now the Brownsville Pioneer Picnic, tales of a farmer throwing gold coins into his field, robberies, murders, lost documents of the town's incorporation that lead to the town no longer being "dry" and an anecdote later confirmed by a long time resident of the town that our house used to belong to Klondike Kate Barlow, a notorious figure from the Klondike gold rush!

There are a billion leads out there if you know where to look. Hopefully this gives you a few ideas of where to start.


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