Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sweet Home Rocks! Part II – Pyrite

Pyrite

Pyrite

Last week we told you about the fabulous petrified wood field open for public digging outside of Sweet Home, Oregon. We also told you this is a great area to find pyrite.

Jerry & Marilyn - "Enough pictures, it's still a half hour to the site."

Jerry & Marilyn – “Enough pictures, it’s still a half hour to the site.”

On this same weekend, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check out the “pyrite seam” as Jerry called it. Many years ago Jerry and my stepdad used to pan for gold on Quartzville Creek outside of Sweet Home. This is an area set aside by the Forest Service for public, no fee digging. They found out about the pyrite seam from one of our neighbors so many years ago. He had been on the road crew that cut the road through the seam – apparently they all thought for a few minutes that they were rich!

We headed up Quartzville Road east of Sweet Home. It goes past Sunnyside County Park, a park we highly recommend if you want to stay in the area. It’s large, roomy, has a couple of boat docks where we launched our kayaks into the river rather than right out into the busy Foster Reservoir.

Keep going several miles and you’ll see Green Peter Reservoir. From the pictures, you can see why “green” is in the name. Why it is Green Peter though, I have never found out.

Green Peter Reservoir, Sweet Home, Oregon

Green Peter Reservoir

Finally, we turned on a road leading past an obvious dry camping area, and just headed up about 2 miles. We saw a couple of cars parked alongside the road and a couple of people on the small hillside. Suddenly Jerry exclaimed, “That’s it!” I think he was worried it would be all overgrown after so many years. Jessica jumped out as excitedly as I did to run over to the hill. You could see sparkles all over the hillside and even down onto the road! They were calling to us! Jerry reached down and picked up a beautifully shaped piece and Jessica and I were nearly giddy with excitement.

Nancy, Jessica & Jerry at Pyrite Seam

Nancy, Jessica & Jerry at Pyrite Seam

Now, the hillside is a little slippery because the rock and dirt is soft. You have to be very careful going up and down it because it’s easy to fall and hurt yourself. But does that every really stop a rockhounder?

We gathered pieces we broke out of the rock as well as pieces that I wanted to take home to show the grandsons.

Pyrite in matrix

Pyrite in matrix

Finally we had to leave and stopped back by the dry camp area for lunch. Thankfully Jerry brought a small BBQ and we replenished our energy with hot dogs, chips and drinks.

Nothing better than a BBQ after rockhounding!

Nothing better than a BBQ after rockhounding!

Then he decided to try panning for gold in the creek. It was mainly to show Jessica how to do it. Jerry really didn’t expect to find anything because that particular spot is heavily panned. But it was a great day to cool off down by the river.

Jessica and Rusty enjoyed playing in the river while Jerry panned.

Jessica and Rusty enjoyed playing in the river while Jerry panned.

Although Jessica and I would have been happy to go back and spend a lot more time looking for pyrite, we ran out of time this day. But we all meet up every year in Oregon, so I know Jessica and I will definitely make sure we go back again and find more of that beautiful pyrite!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Oregon, Outdoors, Rockhounding/Gold Panning | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Home Rocks! Part I – Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood at Holleywood Ranch

The Sweet Home, Oregon area is known for Holley Blue and other agates. But did you know you can also dig petrified wood and gather pyrite? Now I know some people say, “Pyrite?! Who wants Fool’s Gold?” Well, this is very pretty, nicely shaped Fool’s Gold.

Jerry and Jessica ready to dig petrified wood, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Jerry and Jessica ready to dig

On this day, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check it out. We first arrived at Holleywood Ranch just outside of town, to dig for the petrified wood. We saw the sign showing we were at the right place, but no one was in sight. It turns out you should always phone ahead because the owners live on a hill behind the field where the digging takes place, and so they aren’t always in the field. There is a white house next to the fields but that is rental property, so please don’t bother the renters.

Petrified Wood Field, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood Field

We met up with owner Brad Newport, and he showed us the wagons and probing tools and told us to head on out to see what we could find. The top of the ground was literally littered with pieces of petrified wood. It’s tempting to reach down and pick up several pieces but even more tempting to see what we could dig up for ourselves. We saw several trenches where other people had dug so we checked them out and found several pieces nice enough to keep. Most pieces were rather small, but there were some pieces in the field that were simply too big to pick up!

Jessica standing on large piece of petrified wood, Sweet Home, Oregon

Jessica standing on large piece of petrified wood

After choosing several pieces we headed back to the gate where there was water available to clean our finds and decide which ones to keep. The details really show up when the rocks are wet! Then we took them up to Brad’s house to pay for our keepers.

Petrified Wood from Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood from Holleywood Ranch!

When we walked into his shop, we were enthralled! Petrified wood everywhere! Limb casts, huge pieces, colorful pieces – it was a rockhounder’s heaven. We had some time to talk to Brad, an extremely pleasant gentleman, and he told us how he bought the property not knowing the petrified wood was on it. And when he did find out, he nearly wore himself out digging every day after work. I could completely understand, I would have done the same thing!

Brad Newport, Owner of Holleywood Ranch, Sweet  Home, Oregon

Brad Newport, Owner of Holleywood Ranch

He didn’t plan to open his property to the public until the Travel Channel Cash and Treasures show called him and wanted to visit. One of their requirements is that the property be opened to the public so he decided to try it. He had a great time telling us the story of the filming of the show, and some of the funny highlights. Holleywood Ranch has also been featured on Grant’s Getaways!

Holleywood Ranch is open for digging every day (weather permitting), just make sure to call ahead to 541-401-0899 or 541-409-6047. The digging is easy, the ground is soft and flat so no hiking, just a simple walk out into the field. You only pay $1.50 per pound for the pieces you choose to keep.

 

More gorgeous petrified wood! Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

More gorgeous petrified wood!

You can find Holleywood Ranch online at http://holleywoodranch.com/

The link to the episode on Cash and Treasures, as well as Grant’s Getaways can be found here: http://holleywoodranch.com/claim-to-fame/

Come back next week to find out more about how Sweet Home Rocks! Part II – Pyrite.

Categories: Oregon, Outdoors, Roadside Attraction, Rockhounding/Gold Panning | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uphill Both Ways – Latourell Falls, Oregon

Family at Latourell Falls

Brandy, Josh, and Anden at Latourell Falls

One Saturday recently we went to Oregon with my daughter, Brandy, and her family (son Anden, boyfriend Jason). We intended to go on a hike around Multnomah Falls. We didn’t think to check any website to see what might be going on that day. Apparently it was the 100th anniversary of the building of the Benson Bridge that crosses over the lower Multnomah Falls. How many visitors show up when it’s the 100th anniversary of this iconic bridge? Hundreds, maybe thousands. How many parking spots are there are Multnomah Falls for these hundreds, maybe thousands of people? Much less than that.

Now, I will say that I’m glad the falls gets so many visitors, but sad it was on the day we decided to go. So we headed west on the Historic Columbia River Highway hoping to find someplace else to hike and then suddenly we see a parking spot with a sign that said “Latourell Falls” and there were a couple of parking spots! We needed two, so we grabbed them. We saw a walkway heading downhill that looked like it went to the lower falls, the one we could see from the road, and so we headed down it. It was a nice, short walk, and the falls were beautiful! It was a short walk back to the parking lot, short enough it just gave us a taste of hiking and we wanted to go more.

Let's all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason) Latourell Falls

Let’s all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason)

So we decided to head to the upper falls. Now, looking at the map, to me, it’s never very clear how far or how strenuous the walk is, but what the heck, right? So off we headed – uphill. Steeply uphill. Both ways. OK, kidding – sort of. Brandy, Jason, Anden, and Josh took off ahead of me and David. Bless David’s heart for staying with me and my slow pace. I think he just didn’t want to have to carry me out of there…

Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

Unofficial Lookout Point

View from Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

View from Unofficial Lookout Point

The trail kept going. And going. Through a lush green Pacific Northwest forest, with that woodsy smell you associate with camping – and s’mores. That smell alone will keep you going. Finally, the rest of our group came back to meet us. They figured we were still at the parking lot (now why would they think that?) and they didn’t think there were more falls, but we assured them there was. Hours and hours later (kidding again, but it was a bit of a hike) there they were! The beautiful upper Latourell Falls! We made it! Of course, so did a lot of people with small children, but hey, it’s hot and we’re delicate.

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Time to head back down and it’s a loop so just follow it, right? Yep, right up until there’s a side trip to a sort-of look out. It dead ends so obviously that’s not the way back so we head back up the trail on around the loop. But it keeps going up and up! See, I said it was uphill both ways! We figure that can’t be right, we’re supposed to go down to the parking lot, so we turn around and go back by the lookout and down another trail there. It becomes obvious very quickly that it’s not right either because it’s not maintained. Oh, and it’s a dead-end. Back the other way again. Uphill. Again. Finally, we see the trail below us and know there is hope. Suddenly it does quickly head back down and we end up, alive and well, at the parking lot. We were all hot, sticky and exhausted, but felt we had a great workout and it was beautiful scenery. So even though we intended to hike Multnomah Falls, we were glad our plans were changed for us and we were able to see the two falls that we might not otherwise have taken the time to stop and see. It turns out it really was only a 2.4 mile hike.

If you like hiking to waterfalls, you need to check out the book, “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes,” by fellow travel writer, Adam Sawyer. He refers to himself as a “Professional Gentleman of Leisure” but I refer to him as “one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.” Adam’s book just came out this July and he is busily working on another one for Washington. You can find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Waterfalls-Oregon-States-Waterfall/dp/0762787279/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407106247&sr=8-1&keywords=Waterfall+hikes+of+Oregon

Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: