July 27, 2009
In late July we drove to Spokane, Washington for my grandsonís wedding. We didnít plan on any collecting or sightseeing stops on the way to Washington, since we werenít sure how long the trip would take. We did go to the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND because it was only a few blocks from one of our overnight stops and their brochure said they had three white buffalo. As it turned out, the white buffalo were in a distant part of the pasture that day, so we didnít see much.
I recalled that I had some micro violet garnets in my collection with a locality of St. Maries, ID. On checking the map, it appeared that our route would take fairly near St. Maries, so I asked for information about the locality on the Rockhounds mailing list. I was referred to a forest service site on the web for a locality just south of St. Maries.
When we left Spokane we headed for that site, Emerald Creek. Itís reached by a gravel road off Route 3 between Fernwood and Clarkia. Seven miles up that road thereís a parking area. From the parking area you walk back a few yards, then a half mile up another road. At the top, you pay your $ 10.00 fee and start digging. Buckets, shovels, screens and sluices are provided.
You start by filling a bucket or two with dirt that has been dredged from Emerald Creek by the Forest Service. This is to protect the aquatic environment of the creek. A couple of dredgings a year by the Forest Service was felt to be less harmful than having collectors mucking around in the creek continually.
You then screen the contents of your bucket to get rid of the excess dirt.
Finally, you take the screens to the sluices. The problem you run into is that the water in the sluices is continuously recycled, so itís just as dirty as the material youíre trying to wash! I couldnít even wash my hands off when I was through. I had to rewash what I collected after we got home.
Even though the $ 10.00 fee allowed you to collect all day, I left after about 2 hours. The day was quite warm, and there was no shade in the parking area where my wife and dog were waiting.
Our next stop on the way home was at Devilís Tower, which was only a short detour off I-90.
I had planned on staying the next two nights in Rapid City, SD to collect at a few of the pegmatite sites in the Black Hills, and also to visit Mt. Rushmore. This proved to be impossible- it was Bike Week in Sturgis, SD, and it was impossible to find a motel room. We kept going for another 100 miles, where we were able to find a motel room, although at a high price. If we get another chance to visit the Black Hills, weíll make sure it isnít when the area is full of motorcycles!