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Royal Peacock Black Fire Opal Mine in Denio, Nevada

Digging for tailings

In a remote region of northwestern Nevada, 100 miles away from the nearest grocery store, there lies an isolated RV park and a sign proclaiming “MINE: Visitors Register At Office.” 

For those wanting to spend a day in the life of an opal prospector from the early 1900s, Royal Peacock Opal Mine in Nevada’s opal-rich desert landscape provides the tools, the guidance, and the vast opal reserves to make it happen. A site of gemstone discovery since 1912, the Royal Peacock Opal Mine is best known for the black fire opal, a dark stone flecked with vivid color that is the official gemstone of Nevada.

These brilliantly-hued opals can be mined by amateurs and experts alike from May 15th to October 15th of every year at Royal Peacock. For those willing to strain and sweat, bank digging is the optimal way to mine opal. While bank diggers have to swing picks and shovel heaps of dirt, the work is more likely to pay off with large gem returns. Those looking for a less backbreaking experience will likely opt for tailing digging, which involves raking through the upturned grounds with a keen eye. 

If you’re lucky enough to find an opal on your mining excursion, you can bring it home—finders keepers! Although some may go home empty-handed, some may strike it big. Royal Peacock has yielded black fire opals of over 130 pounds.


via Atlas Obscura - Latest Articles and Places