Topaz Mountain Gem Mine

Mining Season 2006

Brief History: Topaz Mountain Gem Mine is the name Walt Rubeck gave his two placer claims in the Tarryall Mountains in Park County, Colorado. For over 15 years, Walt dug for topaz on his claims. He allowed the public to screen buckets of topaz bearing gravel for a few years until insurance concerns compelled him just to sell the gravel to customers for their screening off site. For several seasons Walt also had a "museum" on site where he sold stones and displayed some of those he had found. Walt was also a gem cutter and cut many of the topaz he and his customers found. The Topaz Mountain Gem Mine became known as the best producer for Colorado topaz.

I had visited Walt on numerous occasions. Both I and my two sons searched for topaz in the buckets we purchased from Walt. I had long prospected the Tarryall Mountains for topaz myself and had discovered several locations. When my two boys grew old enough for hiking any distance and strong enough to carry a full pack, we would hike in to the old CSMS claim and dig for topaz. It wasn't long before we were also scouring the cliffs above. Over the years we found several nice pockets, and our collection of crystals slowly grew. None of us wanted to part with any for they were very difficult to obtain. Most of the topaz I have sold, until recently, were those I obtained in old collections or purchased from other field collectors. We used to stop and visit with Walt when our trips took us past his mine. Usually he had a "treasure" or two to show off as we compared stories.

Walt passed away in the early spring of 2005. I was fortunate to be able to purchase the two claims and have spent several months getting them ready to operate with mechanized equipment. In the meanwhile, I have done some hand digging and recovered a few promising stones. I have also spent a distressing amount of time chasing off claim jumpers. Due to my Forest Service plan of operations and my Colorado mining permit, I cannot allow others to dig on the claims. When I am present, that is another story. And for those of you who know me, or have taken the time to get in touch with me, you know that when possible, I have allowed you to join me on some digging trips. I do anticipate we will be on site more this coming year and visitors will be welcome, but only when we are there.

Setting: Topaz Mountain Gem Mine is situated within the picturesque Tarryall Mountains at nearly 9,000 feet. Pilot's Peak rises to the northwest to over 10,600 feet and a steep canyon wall rises to the east. This area was heavily timbered until the Hayman fire of 2002. When it swept through, it burned much of the timber from the claims and the surrounding hillsides. Now, scarred and blackened snags cover the mountains. Recovery is underway, and much like the area around the Glacier Peak amazonite claims farther south, the wildflowers have returned in abundance. Aspens are also up to six feet tall. The grass is quite lush. Of course, it will be many years before the pines and firs return.

The Claims: Although Topaz Mountain Gem Mines cover 29 acres of ground, the entire surrounding area also produces topaz. Private land borders the west and south sides of the claims, but National Forest encircles the claims to the north and east. Be aware the National Forest becomes Wilderness at the ridgeline. As you know, no mining claims or activities are permitted in Wilderness areas. Nearly 100% of the land surrounding the Rubeck Placers is also staked by other claimants. Indeed, several claims overlap the Rubeck Placers but are junior (the senior claim has the mineral rights). Presently, I am unaware of any fee dig sites for topaz in Colorado.

Nature of the Topaz: Over half the topaz recovered are colorless. Of the remaining 50 percent, about 20 percent are a light, ice blue; another 20 percent are a very light champagne (light pinkish orange); and about 5 percent are choice, medium blue or medium champagne (approaching a light orange). Many of the blue topaz are also bi-colored. Looking lengthwise through the C axis, an hourglass shape of champagne coloration is often seen. Although the blue is stable in sunlight (some even deepen in color), the champagne color will almost always fade. Some fade within hours of exposure; others take years to fade. I have also found a few topaz which are yellowish or greenish.

Other Minerals: A number of associated minerals are also found with the topaz or are included within the topaz. The most predominant inclusions are phenakite and schorl. Others are microcline, albite, ferro-columbite and some goethite. Smoky quartz which occurs in the deposit as loose crystals often have tiny phenakites or needles of schorl attached. The microcline feldspars also often show mats of tiny black needles of schorl scattered on their crystal faces.

Stone Sales: Topaz we produce from the claims is currently being sold through our mineral sales business, Pinnacle 5 Minerals. Some topaz is so feathered or included that it is sold as tumbling rough or for inexpensive specimens. Most of the better quality rough topaz is being offered as faceting material, often in parcels of several stones where at least one will yield a nice stone. We also cut some of the rough ourselves and offer the faceted gems as either loose stones or set in gold or silver jewelry. The prize, the sharp, terminated crystals are offered as specimens for mineral collectors.

85.5 Ct Topaz
cut by Ron Boyd

Stone was found April 2006

Pinnacle 5 Minerals will be at both the fall and spring Marty Zinn shows in Denver. We will also be at the Inn Suites in Tucson, Room 182. Check with us for other local, Colorado area shows.

Visiting Topaz Mountain Gem Mine: You are welcome to visit, however, we are only on the site sporadically. No digging is allowed unless we are present. It may be possible that you can assist in digging, or that I will allow you to work in a certain area. If so, we will split what is found. In the future, we hope to offer gravel which contains topaz

Mining Season 2006 Page 2