*MUST HAVE RESERVATION*
- Phone: 559-935-5909
- Web site: http://calstategemmine.com/
- Length of Vacation: Day only
- Cost: Adults $70 / Kids 12 and under $20
- Open: Saturdays and Sundays only
- Type of Prospecting: Benitoite
- Equipment: Provided (see website for instructions)
- Instruction: Provided (demo at 9 am)
- Lodging: Camping and Hotels nearby (see site for nearby lodging)
- Meals: Bring your own
From their web site: History of the Mine
During 1906 James Couch and his family owned a ranch near Coalinga where they grew produce and chickens. In 1907 the economy slowed down much as it is doing now and he decided to prospect some areas south of New Idria Mines that he had heard stories about from some of the locals.
From the information that I received as a kid growing up at New Idria Mines, many of the local families who worked for the mines as wood choppers and later hauling oil from Coalinga to the mines knew James Couch and considered him a friend. Frank Nunez and Joe Larios, local miners who were born and raised in the New Idria area knew him well and always spoke fondly of Couch to me.
Couch was grubstaked by a Coalinga oil man R.W. Dallas. Couch headed out from Coalinga up Los Gatos Creek Canyon road, and about nightfall found himself on the headwaters of the San Benito River. Seeing that there was abundant grass and water he made camp. The morning light showed him a little rocky exposure on the northern side of the canyon that caught his attention. Closer examination of the outcrop showed an eroded pocket of white rock with bright blue crystals sticking out all over, realizing this could be something important Couch collected a quantity of the material, in his words, “blue crystals were lying all over the ground.” He returned immediately to Coalinga to show his find to Dallas. Later that week Couch rode three days, one way, by horseback to Hollister the county seat to file a federal mining claim. (see site for entire story)