GPS Co-ordinates 36d 04m 14.3 s North 117d 09m 48.3s West
Balarat is a turn of the century ghost town about 30 miles north of Trona Ca. , home of the Searles Lake Gem-O-Rama. This was the destination of a 11/17/02 SPRC impromptu field trip. This area was mined for gold but we were there for the Balarat Marble.
In town you will only find one testimonial to Balarats history.
I caught an old desert rat Jim hanging out in the bustling down town saloon.
From the town of Balarat head due north 1.1 miles and go right up the dirt road. A 4x4 is nice but a high clearance vehicle will do. Now continue up happy Canyon following the stream bed until you get to the gate on the stream bed. You will have to walk from here on out. Good specimens can be collected in the stream bed all the way up the canyon. The larger stuff is about 2 miles in. If you go far enough you will run into the old mine. Get a topo map to locate the spot.
The marble seems to be coming from a light sedimentary layer that runs along the canyon about 3/4 of the way up the face. You can barely see the pink in it, which is the pink of the marble. It is this layer that sheds the marble down into the stream bed.
It seems that the Balarat marble was highly prized and cleaned out of these canyons. A lot of the locals say that it has all been picked out but I think they like to keep it a local secret. A fall flash flood cleared away about 6 feet of the stream bed this year and exposed lots of marble. It appears that it was not all gone, just buried.
Here is what the marble looks like in the rough
Here is what the marble looks like slabed and cabed
There are two other canyons that appear to be quite interesting, Pleasant Canyon and Surprise Canyon. They are both rich in minerals and history, but we will save that for another day. After a short drive and a good nights rest in Ridgecrest we are off to the El Paso mountains to look for Gold.
We headed to a little outpost called Garlock which is about 10 miles west of Randsburg about half way between the 14 freeway and Randsburg on Randsburg road. Turn off of the main roar at these GPS co-ordinates 35d 25m 04.5 s North 117d 45m 46.8s west, and head north west on the dirt road. Be very careful to stay off of areas that have claims on them. Most of this area is claimed but then most of the area has placer gold. You will see lots of folks dry panning in this area. We even found out where all of the old panners go at the end of there journey. I am sure there is a long story behind every tomb stone.
Here is the Cemetery with all the newly placed flags.
We didn't strike it rich here but we did find some quartz with gold specs in them and meet some real nice old timers who shared lots of their treasure with us.