I’m quickly becoming a fan of Pelican Point. I guess you might be able to go anywhere in Utah and see this kind of mineral diversity–I don’t know. But due to the close proximity of the place, I have been able to visit it a number of times and investigate some really great collecting sites.
Back in the 1970’s John Holfert spent a considerable amount of time digging out these amazing specimens of goethite pseudomorph of pyrite. I guess he thought he had mined all the good ones out. Collectors have been visiting the location again recently, and although the specimens are not as large and harder to clean, you can still pull out some beautiful rocks there.
I had heard about the pyrite here and seen some specimens, but for some reason couldn’t find the location for over a year. I don’t know why–it’s actually very easy to get to. I finally got some decent directions from a friend and was able to instantly spot the quarry in Google Earth. It’s a scar in the ground on the ridge of a hill, overlooking a very popular shooting range (I know, yikes!). Just drive south of Pelican Point until you see Little Cove, and park somewhere. There will probably be people shooting into the hillside.
I was fascinated by these sandy shelves jutting out of the hillside halfway up the cove. You can tell right away that it used to be a shoreline of old Lake Bonneville (I think roughly 100k years ago). The round tumbled stones and mud hardened enough to preserve the shoreline in places, and it cantilevers out over the ravine.
I made my way to the top of the ravine and saw the excavation. After digging around for a half hour I found that the pyrite is located in the orange dirt. I could see little mahogany-colored cubes in the dirt, and every once in awhile what looked like a bunch of connected sugar cubes.
In case you didn’t know, a pseudomorph occurs when one mineral replaces another, retaining the shape of the original. In this case pyrite is partially replaced by goethite, resulting in a color somewhere between rust orange and black. They are beautiful to look at, but very difficult to clean. I used an old toothbrush and some dentist’s picks to get a few of my specimens clean, but others will just have to remain in the hard clay matrix.
I have heard that the claim at some times has been privately-owned. I’ve seen other collectors there and no signs on the property, but I’m checking on the ownership status. In the meantime, if you go there be very careful about stray lead from the sharp and not-so-sharp shooters down below.