A story by John Gaumer
The Carey family owned a ranch near Prineville, OR, which was known for its lovely plume agate. One day, the family operated a free dig opportunity at their ranch, and we leapt at the chance to find our own specimens. It was 1952, and the whole family climbed into our car and headed to Prineville, OR.
Once we arrived, we started digging. The agate material was float, meaning it had eroded free from the matrix material and was trapped in the dirt across the face of the slope. Unfortunately, when we got there, the good stuff seemed to have already been mined, and we weren’t finding much.
Not wanting to be disappointed, we came up with an idea. Instead of digging on the face of the slope, we decided to dig at the base of a large juniper tree. The ground around the tree was undisturbed and we finally started to find some lovely pieces. Every two or three shovelfuls of dirt rewarded us with an agate, and many of the nodules showed indications of the prized deep red plumes.
We took home a full carload of great material that day. Over the years, we have used it to make custom jewelry and museum showpieces. Click here to take a virtual tour of our favorite Carey Ranch plume agate museum specimens.