Exploration on Pala's Chief Mountain is ongoing


Last updated 2/9/2018 at 2:38pm

Jeff Swanger holds a Prince of Pala, aquamarine from the 49'er Pocket, Oceanview Mine.

FALLBROOK - Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society (FGMS) will present well known area gem miner Jeff Swanger as the guest speaker at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15.

CEO of Oceanview Mining, LLC and a professional miner in North San Diego County for 35 years, Swanger will speak on the "Ongoing Exploration on Chief Mountain in the Famous Pala Mining District". He owns all the significant mines on Chief Mountain (the Oceanview, Pala Chief and Elizabeth R mines) and will share how gem mining is once again alive in the area, for the first time in nearly a century.

Local mining enthusiasts and history buffs alike will appreciate Swanger's enthusiasm for keeping the mining efforts of the area active and prosperous, with a keen awareness of the importance the industry has held since discoveries of significant, rare gems such as tourmaline, aquamarine, morganite and kunzite first occurred in the early 1900s.

Growing up in nearby Escondido with an interest in pegmatites and mining, Swanger began his mining career in 1983 working at Pala's Stewart mine where he garnered valuable expertise from a group of "old timers" in mining the area's pegmatites.

In 2000, he acquired the Oceanview mine on Chief Mountain and began his own operation, turning it into a modern mining effort that also includes a public fee-dig access to mine tailings. An estimated 20,000 people from all over the world have come to Swanger's mines to dig for gems, keeping whatever treasures they find. He believes that the experience inspires the next generation of gem and mineral collectors.

Today Swanger's operation has become the largest underground gem mine in the United States and he continues to live his dream of discovering the next great gem pocket in the Pala Mining District.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free and plenty of free parking is available across the street from the FGMS building located at 123 W. Alvarado Street. Light refreshments will be served. An opportunity raffle will be held and mineral specimens will be available for purchase at a 20 percent discount. For inquiries call (760)728-1130 or see http://www.fgms.org.

These assorted gems come from the Oceanview Mine fee-dig.


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