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Tick Canyon Howlite...
Now Closed, See Note Below

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Rock Hunting
Howlite is a borate mineral and occurred here along with an extensive deposit of borax and colemanite. The Stering and Pacific Coast Borax companies mined the borax and colemanite from 1908 to 1922 and are said to have recovered over $3,000,000 worth of material. The Howlite was of no use to the miners and so was thrown aside as waste.

Type of material found

Howlite
Agate Howlite.

Description of material

Creamy white in color, sometimes with gray-black veins which give this gemstone its very showy appearance. Occurs as gray nodules or masses looking very much like a head of cauliflower. A piece chipped off the gray exterior will reveal the white interior. Of course, the material with the lined pattern in the white is the most desirable. Small nodules can be picked up on the dumps. It is necessary to dig in the dumps to uncover the larger pieces. Takes a good polish. Makes striking cabs, pen bases, bookends, and is soft enough to carve.

Agate. Good grade of agate, some with green and red moss occurs in veins on the slopes of the hill to the west side of Tick Canyon.

Equipment needed

Rock pick and shovel for digging in the mine dumps. Heavy digging tools and chisels if you plan to dig in the agate veins.

How to get there

From Solemint Junction proceed northbound on Antelope Valley Freeway. Exit at Agua Dulce Canyon Road offramp, turn left and proceed up Agua Dulce Canyon 1.4 miles. Turn left onto paved Davenport Road and go 2.1 miles to Tick Canyon. As you approach, you'll note the pink cast to the hills and the dark gray mine dumps on each side of the road. Looking up into the mouth of Tick Canyon, you'll have no trouble identifying it, as it is a singularly distinctive canyon set apart by an awesome play of colors on the canyon walls. A poor dirt road goes into the canyon a short way, but it is best to park along the highway and walk in. The Howlite is found throughout the gray mine dumps and opposite the cement foundations of the old Borax mining operations.

Webmaster notes from September 10, 2001

I stopped by yesterday and found a fence and gate across the entrance. The sign said No Trespassing, U.S. Borax Property, (805) 287-0839. I did find a nice specimen, about 1 lb, outside the fence and it looked like there were many more in the stream bed below the fence.

Heading back home I took Aqua Dulce Canyon Road South from the freeway (Hwy 14). About 1.4 miles from the freeway I found a small steep wash crossing under the road with a smorgasbord of rocks. These included several types of granite, purple cryptocrystalline quartz, what looked like actinolite mixed with feldspar, mica, and many more in the three minutes I looked. Continuing South I turned left onto Soledad Canyon Road and spotted several more interesting areas within a few miles.
Note:Although closed, US Borax allows collectors an opportunity to collect borate minerals, during the annual Boron Rock Bonanza. Held Palm Sunday weekend, at the Boron High School, this is a free rock show. Or, visit the Borax Visitor Center in Boron. 760-762-5810

Tick Canyon Howlite

Permission for content use granted by Glenn Olson

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