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Calcite, Willemite and Hydrozincite, Miller Canyon, Arizona

This beautiful 4-color rock is from the Nelly James Mine (also known as Miller Canyon), in southern Arizona. At its best under short wave UV, this specimen features calcite, willemite, hydrozincite, and sphalerite. The size of this specimen is 94 x 66 x 52 mm and it weighs 447 grams.

The Nelly James was a small open pit lead, copper, zinc, gold and silver mine located in Miller Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona. Its history lasted from the 1880’s until 1915 or so. The small amount of ore produced by the Nelly James was inconsistent with the size of the operation, leading to speculation that the property was more of a prospect, and may have been part of a stock scam. The good news to fluorescent mineral collectors is that to this day, the Nelly James mine has been a productive source of beautiful fluorescent minerals.

Shown in the above photograph, taken under short wave UV (254 nm), calcite fluoresces red to pink, the willemite green, and hydrozincite blue/white.

As seen above, the same rock looks pretty drab under visible light.

Miller Canyon is located in the rugged terrain of the Huachuca Mountains, in Cochise County, Arizona. Near the top of Miller Canyon lies the Nelly James mine. The hike to the Nelly James is 3 miles long, and requires a vertical elevation gain of 1500 feet over challenging terrain. Being located close to the Mexican border, Miller Canyon provides a route to illegal immigration and drug smuggling into the US, so presents a real possibility of risky encounters on the trail. Despite the risks, the Nelly James mine has been a productive source of beautiful, multi-colored fluorescent minerals for years. The specimen featured here was collected in March of 2020 by Ken and Gail Hennig.

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