The Red Cloud Mine is one of the best localities for wulfenite and one of the premier localities of the world to boot! (in my opinion). I have been there a couple of times and Daniel Joyce and I decided to return to attempt to collect some nice wulfenite crystals, again. The red-orange colour and excellent crystal forms are irresistible! Here is a short photo essay with captions to give you an idea of what this trip was like. There is also an article in the "Articles" section of this website with more detailed info about and photos of the Red Cloud Mine and the trip there.
Roger teased us by showing us a few nice specimens that he had recently collected and had for sale. THIS one was amazing but I would have had to get a second mortgage on my home to purchase it!
I call this photo "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work I go!". Roger leads Chris and me to a collecting spot along the precipitous edge of the pit. Obviously, Daniel took the picture.
This is a view of much/most of the Red Cloud Open Pit. The pit was developed over a couple of large collecting projects by consortiums of professional mineral collectors. They left a few good specimens behind, thankfully!
Can you see the collectors on the edge of the pit? Daniel is up to the left and Chris is further down to the lower right of the photo. The windy day made us, being on the pit walls, a little more anxious.
Here is a more close up shot of Chris on the Pit Wall, excavating some nice wulfenite specimens.
Daniel and I focused on one area, digging off a foot of rubble and then chiseling the rock down about 1.5 feet. We encountered only one decent vug which produced our several specimens. We were chiseling in fluorite/quartz/willemite vein material.
Here I am at my chiseling post working out the one nice vug. I think you can see the excellent crystal on the specimen that I am holding. More careful trimming will be required to make an actual specimen out of it.
The collecting team of Daniel and David Joyce. We moved a lot of rock that day!
Can you see the small wulfenite in-situ, in this photo? Just beyond that I opened the vug with the good wulfenite crystals.
The Red Cloud Mine Road starts, near the Military "Proving Grounds", north of Yuma Arizona. It is a very civilized beginning which quickly deteriorates into a very rough, difficult road for 16 miles or so, traversing washes and difficult terrain. A four wheel-drive is recommended.
The Red Cloud Mine is in La Paz County, in the Sonoran Desert at an elevation of 1070 feet, very close to the Arizona/California border.
We met up with Roger, at the Mine. Roger is the perfect guy to watch over a mine like this. He has great experience as a contract miner, has excellent collecting ability and doesn't mind living WAY out in the booners! Here Daniel (L) and Chris (R) plan our visit with Roger.
I think this is the favourite of the ones we collected. Nice orange-red crystals in a quartz cavity, along with some small willemite crystals. 9.0cm long. It has since been successfully trimmed!
A very nice vug of orangey wulfenite crystals in this vug. 7.0cm across
This is the specimen that I am holding in my hands in the photo in page one. Very nice 7mm crystal in matrix that needs to be trimmed down.
An elongated, tabular wulfenite crystal on quartz-fluorite matrix. Love these elongated crystals!
OK, we didn't collect this one. I purchased it from Roger and it is now in my Arizona Cabinet. Love the contrast!
Maybe it is the result of too many lonely, quiet days out at the mine but Roger came up with the idea of hanging "Bob the Skeleton" out in the middle of nowhere with a sign beseeching people to have their picture taken and then post the picture to the Red Cloud Mine twitter account. We did and will!