Gemstones vs. Potatoes

One of Idaho's auto license plates reads "Famous Potatoes"; maybe it should actually read something else. Everyone knows Idaho is famous for its great tasting (with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper) spuds. But did you know, Idaho is also known as THE "Gem State"? There are more gemstone varieties (72) in Idaho than any other place in the world except the continent of Africa. And the prize winner is the Star Garnet which is only found in Idaho and India. Come and see the gemstones we have to offer. ALL OUR GEM DIRT IS MINED IN IDAHO AND MONTANA. Pan with us. Get your hands dirty.You'll have a BLAST!


Looking for something? Try our QUICKVIEW BLOG POST RETRIEVAL page. Your other option is to use the SEARCH box in the upper left corner of each page.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mining in Idaho

Idaho Gem State Mines

“Idaho has many different types of minerals, and it was gold that brought the first permanent settlers to the state. Although minerals can be used up, we are lucky to have enough minerals to meet our needs for hundreds of years to come. Explore the natural history of Idaho mining with the photographs and text below.”….. 

Gem State Mines Blog…..”When we think about history and miners, we usually think of men with picks, shovels, gold pans, and perhaps a burro. The truth is, most of these men make very little money. It took five to ten minutes to wash the sand and gravel out of the pan, and the miner often found only five to ten cents worth of gold for his work. A few “struck it rich,” but most men made only a few dollars a day. That took the glitter out of gold for many men. The smart miners soon learned they would have to use machinery to make money from mining.”….. 

…..”When we think of mining, we often think of exciting metals like gold and silver. However, there are many important minerals which are not metals. These are called industrial minerals. Idaho is rich in industrial minerals. Idaho has seventy-two kinds of gemstones. This is more than any other state, and second only to Africa in the rest of the world. Agates, jade, opal, garnet (pink, green and red), and diamonds to name a few have all been found in Idaho. It is believed the biggest diamond ever found in the United States – weighing nineteen and one-half carats – was found between McCall and New Meadows. (Idaho’s state gem is the star garnet.)”….. 

Gem State Mines BlogTo view the remainder of this interesting historical article, CLICK HERE. 

Come by as soon as we open this coming summer, get dirty and find your fortune at our gemstone mine located on Idaho’s scenic Hwy 200 on Lake Pend Oreille in the panhandle. Enjoy and go to for comments or send an email directly to me at:

Tags: Idaho gemstones
     Gemstone mining in Idaho

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Idaho Welcome

This bumper sticker pretty much says it all.

Idaho Gem State Mines Blog

Come and get you hands dirty at Idaho Gem State Mines. Good clean and wholesome fun. Your kids and grandkids will have a blast. It is a time when they will always feel and be SAFE. So rather than let them go and visit friends on South Halsted in Chicago, skateboard over on 10th in Atlanta, ride a bike on South Central Blvd. in LA or simply stroll over to Northwest 11th Place in Miami, bring your loved ones in for a real Idaho gemstone mining experience they (and you) will always remember.

Tags: Mining Idaho - The Gem State
     The Treasure Hunt

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Gem State Mines Blog
Courtesy of Gold City = Franklin, NC
Corundum is a crystal containing aluminum oxide and oxygen (Al2O3). It also contains traces of chromium, iron and titanium. Corundum is naturally clear and transparent, but can form in different colors. It is the basis of many natural gemstones like the ruby (usually red) and sapphire (usually blue). The actual origin of the word means “ruby”.

This crystal is extremely hard; it is second only to the diamond. It also has a very high specific gravity. Corundum can scratch almost anything. It is commonly used as an industrial abrasive. In addition to hardness, corundum is very dense for a transparent mineral. When you find your first ruby or sapphire, you will immediately notice the hardness; and if held up to a light after being cleaned, its transparency.
Gem State Mines Blog

Corundum commonly can be found in sand along local Idaho rivers and streams. Because of its hardness, it is resistant to weathering. The largest documented crystal weighed in at 335 pounds. A simple commercial process to make these beautiful crystals has been devised and unfortunately significantly driven down the price of the natural occurring Idaho gemstones. I must say however, there is nothing like finding one of these beauties in the buff and in the wild.

Gem State Mines BlogWe are proud to be a source of quality gemstones like rubies and sapphires in the Clark Fork River valley in the Panhandle of Idaho. Our gemstone dirt comes only from the mining areas of Idaho and Montana and our gem mine water actually flows from an abandoned silver mine shaft. Come and explore the wonders of an authentic Idaho gemstone search. While you are there discover Annie’s Orchard with its brand spanking new antique boutique. You will have a BLAST!

PS – You’ll find some local fly fishing supplies at Annie’s as well. And if you ask, I’ll bet you can get advice on local productive fishing grounds.

Tags: Mining Idaho - The Gem State
     The Treasure Hunt

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mining Idaho - The Gem State

The history of Idaho mining is colorfully amazing. There are multiple sources out there regarding out state's over 150 year history of digging, panning and searching for enormous wealth in "them there hills". Here is a wonderful historical article from Go to their website to "Discover your family tree". Click on the link at the end of this post for their entire historical perspective of mining in Idaho.

Idaho's gem state mining
"Gold Rush
When gold in California began to peter out, miners sought gold in other places, including Colorado, Nevada, Montana ... and Idaho. Idaho's rugged mountains presented a real challenge to prospectors and travelers alike. Still, by 1860, a man named Elias Davidson Pierce asked the Nez Perce natives if he could prospect on their lands. They said no, so in the true prospector tradition, Pierce did it anyway.
In early October, Pierce and his team built a mining camp in the north fork of the Clearwater River, and they quickly found gold on the Orofino Creek near what would soon become the town of Pierce, the first gold rush town in Idaho. Pierce said, "I never saw a party of men so much excited. They made the hills and mountains ring with shouts of joy."
Idaho Mining History
Idaho's nickname is the "Gem State", because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found here. In addition, Idaho is one of only two places in the world where star garnets can be found in any significant quantities, the other being India.
Here is a look at the history of mining in Idaho, which has shaped the state's political boundaries, built cities, and supplied the nation with minerals necessary for today's modern lifestyle.
Tags: Coming but not here yet.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Treasure Hunt

Clark Fork, ID
Young Prospector
I called my youngest daughter the other day and we were discussing things to do on my upcoming trip back east to see family. She lives with her husband in the Great Smoky Mountains in Otto, NC. I just happened to mention the possibility of going "ruby mining" to her and she said that she would love to go. I, my children and now my grandchildren have fond memories of this activity when we were children. I began my "ruby mining" career at age 12 (earliest memory) in Cowee Mountain, NC.

Clark Fork, ID
Old Prospector
It is called "ruby mining" by our family because that is the most common gemstone found in those parts. In Idaho it could be called garnet or gold mining, for these are more common here. 72 different gemstones can actually be found in our state.

A little like snow skiing and a lot cheaper, "ruby mining" is an activity the entire family can enjoy. Everyone, young and old, loves to get their hands dirty and wet and pan for valuable gemstones. When you are young, you really think the uncut amethysts, smokey topaz, rubies, sapphires and garnets which you frequently find are of course worth a fortune. These finds are kept by children for years and yes they are worth a fortune--to them. Why? Their father and mother took them on THE treasure hunt of their young lives.

Gem State Mines
Breathtaking Scenery
No one ever goes away empty handed. We are very excited to open our first Family Oriented Gem Mine in Clark Fork, ID hopefully this coming summer. Come and join the fun of Idaho gemstone mining and see what all of the hullabaloo is about. Let us know what you think. We will be discussing all of Idaho's different gemstones here, so you will know exactly what to look for when you come and visit our mine. Simply email us at or me YellowStoneFly directly at:

Gem State Mines
The Prize - A Ruby